The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) has released an updated study on the benefits of heat pumps and heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) for Colorado homes, about 85% of which currently use gas for heating. SWEEP’s study concludes that heat pumps and HPWHs are now even more cost-effective than they were only one or two years ago, due to the significant increase in gas prices over the last six months. In addition, heat pump and HPWH performance and availability have continued to improve.
For new homes, SWEEP estimates that by eliminating the cost of the gas piping to the home, the total initial cost of an all-electric new home with an efficient electric heat pump and electric appliances will be about the same as, or slightly less than, the cost of a gas-heated home with gas appliances. In addition, the annual heating costs, including hot water, for an all-electric home will be about 10% less than for the gas home, and the all-electric home’s carbon emissions will be about 60% less.
For existing homes heated with gas, SWEEP reports that a practical option is to replace the central air-conditioner (AC) with a heat pump, when the AC needs to be replaced. An efficient heat pump can displace up to 80% of annual gas use for home heating, with the furnace covering the home’s heating needs during the coldest outdoor temperatures. SWEEP found that the annual heating costs for this heat pump application will be within about 10% (about $80 per year) of those for a home relying on an efficient gas furnace for all its heating needs. Reasonable utility incentives will cover most of the incremental costs of installing the heat pump in place of the AC. In addition, the home’s carbon emissions from heating will be reduced by about 50%.