An air-source heat pump installed in a new home
An air-source heat pump fitted to a new home. Source: Planprophoto for Shutterstock.

9 U.S. States Pledge to ‘Significantly Expand’ Heat Pump Sales by 2030; No Word on Natural Refrigerants

The states pledged that heat pumps will be 65% of residential heating, cooling and hot water equipment sales by 2030 and 90% by 2040.

In a joint effort to accelerate “pollution-free” residential buildings, nine U.S. states have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to “significantly expand” heat pump sales, with the goal of having heat pumps account for 65% of heating, cooling and hot water equipment sales by 2030 and 90% by 2040.

The MOU was signed by directors of environmental agencies in California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island. Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) organized the pledge, which was not signed by NESCAUM member states New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut.

NESCAUM has not responded to an R744.com query asking if the organization has a stance on natural refrigerants, including CO2 (R744), ammonia (R717) and hydrocarbons such as propane (R290), and whether natural refrigerants will play a role in the MOU’s goals.

In a press release, NESCAUM said that in addition to the 2030 and 2040 targets, the MOU also commits the nine states to developing an action plan for the widespread electrification of buildings within one year. The MOU’s signatories will also collaborate on gathering market data and monitoring progress. The agreement “emphasizes collaboration with “key stakeholders,” which include heat pump manufacturers and HVAC installers.

NESCAUM said the MOU’s signees will “lead by example” and commit themselves to promoting the installation of zero-emission grid-interactive technologies in “existing state buildings.” Low-income communities will also benefit from the heat pump pledge, it said.

“States also seek to direct at least 40% of efficiency and electrification investments to benefit low-income households facing high energy burdens and communities historically burdened with elevated air pollution levels,” said NESCAUM.

The MOU notes that buildings emit 173 million metric tons of CO2 annually across the nine states that signed the MOU.

“Accelerating the transition to zero-emission buildings is an essential step in reducing these harmful emissions that worsen climate change,” said Terry Gray, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

According to NESCAUM, the pledge will also support health benefits, especially in densely populated communities with high levels of air pollution.

“Implementing zero-emission concepts such as these into our homes and daily lives is integral to addressing the worsening effects of climate change,” said Shawn M. LaTourette, New Jersey’s Environmental Protection Commissioner. “This effort will benefit our economy, create jobs and contribute to healthy air.”

An evolving commitment

The MOU builds on an existing commitment from a bipartisan coalition of 25 state and territory governors, which includes the nine states that signed the MOU, the U.S. Climate Alliance. In September 2023, the Alliance committed to quadruple heat pump installations inside the represented states and territories to 20 million units by 2030. The Alliance did not respond to questions from R744.com at the time about the heat pump types it was targeting or if it planned to promote natural refrigerants.

According to recently released data from the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), there were 3.6 million heat pumps sold in the United States in 2023, a decrease of 16.6% from 2022.

However, in 2019, Julia Cerqueira, then Executive Director of the Alliance, asked attendees at the ATMOsphere America conference in Atlanta, Georgia, to educate federal and state legislators on the importance of using natural refrigerants in HVAC&R applications to reduce HFC emissions. ATMOsphere organized the event and is the publisher of R744.com. According to her LinkedIn, Cerqueira left the U.S. Climate Alliance in September of 2021.

All nine signatories of the MOU have policies in place to phase out the use of high GWP HFC refrigerants. California is incentivizing the adoption of climate-friendly refrigeration technologies with a focus on refrigerants with a GWP of less than 10. New York’s 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act committed the state to reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and by 85% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels with HFCs included in its scope.

“This effort will benefit our economy, create jobs and contribute to healthy air.”

Shawn M. LaTourette, Environmental Protection Commissioner, New Jersey

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