Bringing the Heat

How an unlikely group of governors helped blaze a path to cheaper, more efficient home heating and cooling.

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by Alec Radzikowski
VP Group Account Director, Energy

A remarkable fact: even in a politically divided country—where "polarization" makes far more headlines than the (admittedly less sexy) theme of "agreeing about stuff"—it seems that, as a people, we still hold some truths to be self evident. Here are a few of them:

  • Reducing monthly utility costs = good.
  • Improving value of one’s home = good.
  • Receiving thousands of dollars in rebates when improving the value of a home = good.
  • Reducing CO2 and other crap that really doesn't belong in the atmosphere = good.

Do I hear dissent? Didn't think so. (Like a lot of other "kitchen table" issues, turns out that stuff like saving money and getting rebates aren't particularly "red" vs. "blue" issues, when stripped of tribal posturing. Go figure.)

And as far as actually achieving the goals we've agreed to as "good"? Nearly all of it can be accomplished through the use of a newly-relevant technology that's turning up in more and more American homes and businesses: heat pumps. In fact, In 2020 alone, 4.8 million heat pumps were installed in the US.[1] By 2030, the US Climate Alliance predicts heat pumps will be installed in over 20 million U.S. homes.[2] By way of comparison, that annual rates of nearly 2 million heat pump installations dwarfs Tesla’s annual U.S. sales tally of 350,000 unit.[3]

(Sidebar: what the heck is a heat pump? Fun fact—odds are you already have "heat pump technology" in your home. Namely, your refrigerator. A heat pump is simply a heat exchange device that pumps heat OUT of places where it's not wanted and pumps it IN to areas where it is. Thus it can both heat and cool, and is capable of operating at a truly remarkable 300% efficiency or more. Sidebar over.)

Remarkable fact number two: we have the "Inflation Reduction Act"—i.e., an act of the very government we're accustomed to (quite reasonably) disparaging as paralyzed, incompetent, pick your appropriate epithet—to thank for a great deal of this amazing adoption curve. The IRA includes a particular focus on heat pumps, one with a lot of immediately obvious benefits for pretty much every tax payer: stuff like reduced utility costs, reduced CO2 and "particulate" emissions (i.e., cleaner air), robust consumer rebates (actively infusing capital into circulation), and increased domestic job opportunities, from manufacturing to installation, servicing and beyond.

All of which feels suspiciously like a home run for America, rather than a zero-sum partisan win for some "side" or other. Which, when it comes to the federal government—with all due respect to our great nation and yadda yadda—isn't exactly something we're used to hearing about lately.

So how did this achievement come about? Well, it wasn’t exactly planned. Here's the backstory.

After the US pulled out of the Paris Agreement in 2017, the governors of Washington, New York, and California decided that they'd had enough of partisan infighting and gridlock—and formed the "U.S. Climate Alliance."

It's worth pointing out that since early colonial times, governors have always played a powerful and somewhat unique role in America. While an "independent" candidate achieving the presidency has never come close to happening, a significant number of U.S. governors have been elected without having a (D) or an (R) next to their name on the ballot. And still more have governed with an independent streak that's driven lasting and significant innovation in areas like economic development, educational expansion, and the extension of constitutional guarantees. Fact is: governors get things done.

Back to our story. Over time, the U.S. Climate Alliance grew, with two dozen governors pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 25% by 2025 and at by over 50% by 2030.[4]

Then, in April, 2023, via the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden Administration made $250 million in funding available to promote heat pump manufacturing in America—via construction of new commercial production facilities, transition of HVAC systems via retooling, and workforce support.[5] The stage was set, and the funding secured.

Closing out a circuitous route to this climate Cinderella story, last month the Climate Alliance–now spanning 25 governors–and the Biden administration pledged to quadruple the number of U.S. home heat pumps from 4.7 million to 20 million noted above by 2030.[6]

In short, looks like it's heat pump party time.

A critical takeaway? This is a powerful of example of politics transcending "the political," for the sake of common sense.

Consider this: in switching to a heat pump from other sources, the average US homeowner can expect to save $667 per year.[7] The home rebates involved are genuinely significant: according to Consumer Reports, the IRA's tax credit will cover 30% of the cost of a heat pump, up to $2,000 and including labor. And that's just for starters: in addition to the credit, those installing heat pump equipment are eligible for $1,750 for a heat pump water heater and $8,000 for a heat pump space heater/cooling system.”[8]  (Which starts to sound like, y'know...real money.)

Past immediate economic benefits and incentives, let's not forget those other elephants in the room: climate change, and plain old sustainability in a world of finite resources. Per the U.S. Department of Energy, heat pumps can be up to 300% efficient—meaning they can output 1.5 to 3 times the energy they use to run.[9] That translates to lower emissions: a typical air-source heat pump reduces household CO2 emissions by about 40% compared to gas furnaces.[10]

All in all: a pretty remarkable tally of practical success and future potential, for a country that we've been told is fraying at the seams.

Maybe there's hope after all? Seems like, when it comes to straightforward solutions like heat pumps that save money and burn less carbon...we're definitely getting warmer.

[1] “States Announce Major Push…”, Catherine Clifford, September 21, 2023, CNBC,

[2] Governors, Biden Administration Push…” Isabella O’Malley, September 21, 2023, PBS,

[3] Good Car Bad Car Automotive Sales Data, “Tesla Sales Figures…” 2020,

[4] “Governors, Biden Administration Push…” Isabella O’Malley, September 21, 2023, PBS,

[5] Department of Energy, “Biden-Harris Administration Announces…”, April 18, 2023,

[6] “Governors, Biden Administration Push…” Isabella O’Malley, September 21, 2023, PBS,

[7] “Should I get a heat pump?” March 13, 2023, Environment America Research and Policy Center,

[8] “Buying a Heat Pump…” Liam McCabe, Consumer Reports, August 15, 2023,

[9] “How Much Does a Heat Pump Cost?”, Alexis Carthan, This Old House, March 24, 2023,

[10] “4 Reasons You Might Consider a Heat Pump…” Liam McCabe, July 19, 2022, Consumer Reports,