US: Heat pump programs can’t keep leaving low-income households behind

(ACEEE blog, 12 Feb 2024) With billions of dollars coming to states for residential efficiency and electrification efforts, the successes and challenges of current heat pump incentive programs in New England show that state officials need to take a comprehensive approach to lower energy burdens for low-income households and to prioritize low-income households with gas heating.

Efficiency Vermont sent a press release last month touting the state’s leadership in installing the most heat pumps per capita among states in the Northeast. That might have been a subtle dig at Maine, which has more heat pumps overall and has been installing them at a faster clip, or Massachusetts, which has big ambitions but lags behind. Each of those states is part of the U.S.

Climate Alliance, which has set a goal of accelerating deployment of heat pumps, and incentive programs are a big part of achieving that target. But despite all of the glowing rhetoric, there is at least one major challenge: heat pump rebate programs in New England are struggling to reach low-income households, especially those currently heating with gas, the most important constituency.

As states across the country prepare to launch home energy rebates for efficient products like heat pumps, there are lessons to be learned from the existing programs in the Northeast.

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ACEEE blog, 12 Feb 2024: US: Heat pump programs can’t keep leaving low-income households behind