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Warming Up to Reality: Heat Pump Mythbusting

If you’ve heard about heat pumps, you may have also heard some rumors: about how heat pumps don’t work well in cold climates, how they are expensive to purchase and operate, and maybe even how heat pump technology is too new for the risk of adopting it in your own home.

We’re here to tell you…

Not everything you hear is true!

We’re here to bust some myths.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Myth: heat pumps don’t work in cold climates

Busted! This one is our favorite to debunk, hands down. You could say we’re the experts on it, heck, we wrote the ultimate guide for it! Let’s dive into all the reasons why this myth is simply that.

Enter, the cold climate heat pump

Did you know that there are air source heat pumps specifically designed for cold climates? They’re not much different than a traditional heat pump, except they’re built to produce more heat at lower temperatures than non-cold climate rated equipment. While they look similar to a heat pump you might see in a warmer climate, the specially designed internal components are where the magic happens. This allows cold climate heat pumps to operate down to very low temperatures — as low as -20°F!

Even in the cold climates like New England and the Colorado Front Range, heat pumps are rockin’ and rollin’, keeping homes comfortable all winter long. Their efficiency, rated by something called the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (or HSPF), can operate at a 10 or greater, meaning they’re transferring much more energy than they consume (and that’s what keeps you warm and comfortable in the cold winter months).

Still don’t believe us? Check out the data we gathered about our fleet’s performance during a brutally cold snap in the Denver area. 

Myth: heat pumps cost more to operate than furnaces

Busted! There are, of course, costs associated with installing a new HVAC system. But, when you consider the robust incentives available to offset that upfront cost plus the ongoing operational savings (not to mention the quality of life improvements – we have been told by more than one customer their heat pump was “life-changing”) you have yourself one smart investment.

Ready to learn more?

Heat pumps are more efficient than gas-powered furnaces

When it comes to energy efficiency, heat pumps take the win on functionality against their gas-powered counterparts. Heat pumps in general are much more energy efficient than traditional HVAC systems. Why? Because heat pumps use electricity to move heat, rather than creating it by burning fossil fuels.

The efficiency of heat pumps is measured by the Coefficient of Performance (COP), which compares the heat output to the energy input. Heat pumps can have a COP greater than 1, meaning they can move more energy as heat than the electrical energy they consume. Traditional heating systems, such as gas furnaces, typically generate less than one unit of heat for each unit of energy consumed, making their COP less than 1.

So, what does all this mean? Heat pumps are using less energy to heat your home, which in turn can lower your energy bills. Importantly, you won’t see all these savings in the same season. We generally find that our customers see the most savings during the summer months. More on that later!

Total cost of ownership

Let’s say you’re in the market for a new HVAC system and that’s how you stumbled upon this blog post. First, welcome! We’re so glad you’re here. Second, you may be wondering “but what is this all going to cost me?”

Good news for you – we’ve got some handy numbers at the ready.

Upfront cost:

The plus of purchasing an energy-efficient heat pump is all the upfront savings made possible by rebates and tax credits (available from the Inflation Reduction Act as well as alongside state, local, and utility rebates).  

Operating cost:

Okay, so we know there are great incentives available to offset your installation cost. What about actually running the heat pump?

Here’s some data that can give you a sense — for a test run in Maine (brr, talk about cold winters!), the average cost for different heating systems looked like this:

It’s worth noting that there are a lot of factors that can change these numbers – think the efficiency of the heat pump you install, the fuel and electricity prices in your area, and if you’re in a temperate or cold climate. For example, mild climates will definitely have lower operating costs than super cold ones.

Alongside this, there are other important factors that affect the cost of operating a heat pump, including the size and layout of your home (the bigger, the more expensive) and if you’re taking good care of your heat pump (cleaning your filters, calling for maintenance twice a year).

All in all, we generally see our customers saving about $250 per year, and sometimes way more (over $1,000), for those switching from more costly fuel sources. Erin, below, switched from baseboard electric heat.

“I was paying about $300-$500 monthly for electricity in the winter, and adding the heat pump cut my bills in half.” – Erin D., Denver customer

Want to see the exact math for your home? You can do a three part calculation as laid out by Shrink That Footprint.

Of course, when you work with experts (like us), we can model the savings you can expect to see so that you’re going in eyes wide open. Click here to get started!

While this is a high-level summary, it’s important to think about the total cost of ownership for your new heat pump, not just the immediate cost. The cost savings from the up front purchase combined with the lifetime savings from choosing an energy-efficient heat pump (and, the other non-financial benefits like super quiet, even heating) all deserve consideration.

Myth: heat pump technology is too new to be trusted

Busted! We don’t need to burn stuff anymore to stay warm, to cook our food, to drive our cars…it’s simply not necessary in 2024 (and beyond)!

Heat pump technology is tested, tried, and true

You may think to yourself, “if heat pumps are so awesome, why am I just hearing about them now?”

There are a few reasons that could be.

First, it shouldn’t surprise you that the big oil and gas industry doesn’t want you to know about heat pumps. Just as gas lobbies are paying influencers to use gas stoves in their cooking videos, they’re also pushing negative campaigns about heat pumps all over the world. Wild, right?

Second, heat pump technology, while it’s advanced greatly over the last ten years, has been around for longer than we’ve been alive. The technology behind heat pumps is actually over 100 years old. The first heat pump was built by Peter von Rittinger in 1856 while conducting experiments to use water vapor’s latent heat to evaporate salt brine. From there, heat pump technology advanced quickly, and in 1945, John Summer built a full scale water-source heat pump. Following that Robert C. Webber heated his home with the first electric heat pump in 1948. The rest, as they say, is home comfort history!

The advancements of building science and compressor and control technology mean heat pumps have taken center stage in the world of HVAC. For the past two years, heat pumps have outsold gas furnaces in the United States. Pretty cool, right?

Meme that says "burn fossil fuels in your home or draw 25" on an Uno card

Wrapping it up

Heat pumps are a smart piece of technology you can install in your home to incorporate cost savings both upon install and through the life of the product. They work fabulously in cold climates and guarantee a healthier, more comfortable climate-friendly home. The myths…have been busted.

Ready to upgrade to a climate-friendly home? Join us in building a brighter future by electrifying everything, starting with homes. Your choice today shapes our collective tomorrow!

Resource Roundup for Your Climate-Friendly Home Journey

WHEW, we made it. The home stretch, the last chapter, the grand finale—whatever you want to call it. It’s our seventh and final post in our climate-friendly home series. In this final edition, we’re sharing a roundup of all our favorite resources to help make your climate-friendly journey as simple as possible. Read on for a whole host of helpful guides, databases, toolkits, and more—and drop us a line if you think there’s something we should add. 

Guides to Climate-Friendly Home Upgrades:  

All Things Solar: 

Incentives & Rebates 

Still looking for a resource to help you determine where to start your climate-friendly home journey? Look no further than Elephant’s tool, Your Electrification Roadmap®. By answering some simple questions and providing a few key details about your goals and preferences, you can get a personalized plan to simplify your journey to home electrification. 

Incentives Better than Ever for Your Climate-Friendly Home

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been digging into all the pieces that go into making your place as climate-friendly as possible: from the appliances and systems you install, to the type(s) of energy you use, to the importance of maximizing efficiency and taking care of your stuff so it lasts.

We’re going to go out on a limb and guess that, at some point in your reading, the question of cost has crossed (or perhaps even consumed) your mind. And whether you’re in the camp of “hmm, seems expensive. I’m not sure how I’d swing it,” or “pssh, in my DREAMS. Someone’s gotta pay for this, and I can’t do it,” hang tight. We’ve got you covered. Let’s dig into all the incentives available to help make these solutions more affordable and accessible than ever. 

Federal Incentives 

Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) 

Passed in August 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act was the most significant investment in greenhouse gas reductions ever in the US. It offers both tax credits and rebates to homeowners looking to make their spaces more energy-efficient and climate-friendly. Here are just a few of the ways you can save now: 

  • Rooftop solar and battery storage tax credits (30% of total project cost, up to $2000 max credit) Climate-friendly home incentives from Elephant Energy
  • Heat pump tax credit (up to $8000, depending on income) 
  • Heat pump water heater tax credit (up to $2000) 
  • Weatherization/energy efficiency tax credit (up to $1,200) 

If you’re looking for a handy tool to see how much your home, specifically, could save through IRA incentives, check out Rewiring America’s great IRA calculator

Additionally, states can apply for funding for direct-pay rebates (HEEHRA rebates) that will provide an upfront, point-of-sale reduction to your project. We’re still waiting for more details on the timing of these rebates—stay tuned by signing up for our newsletter (find the form in the footer of our homepage). 

Psst—Learn more about making the most of IRA incentives right here

State and Local Incentives 

Sorry to go all 1 AM infomercial on ya, but that’s not all, folks! Read on, if you’re in CO or MA:

Turns out there are plenty of local and state-specific incentives in addition to the aforementioned federal ones. For instance, Coloradoans can take advantage of a state tax credit and sales tax exemption on heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and certain energy storage systems. And Massachusetts residents can save significantly on climate-friendly home upgrades through the Mass Save rebates program. There’s a ton of variation between different states, counties, and even local utility companies—and, in our final edition of this series, we’ll be sharing a whole host of resources to help you find and take advantage of those programs. 


Forgotten where to start? Learn more about the electrification upgrades that will make the most impact in your specific home with our free tool, Your Electrification Roadmap®. Answer a few quick questions, and we’ll give you a plan designed to meet your distinct needs. 

Rule 3: Be Efficient (Part 2)

Hello. Welcome back to our climate-friendly home series. We’re stoked you’re here. If you’re new to the party, here’s what we’ve covered thus far: 

  1. The basics of a climate-friendly home 
  2. Rule 1: Don’t burn stuff 
  3. Rule 2: Don’t use energy made from burning stuff 
  4. Rule 3: Be efficient. 

Today, we’re digging deeper into rule 3. Where our last edition focused on the importance of energy audits and weatherization, this post is all about making sure your systems are running the way they are supposed to run, AND that you aren’t replacing things all the time. 

Embracing this rule comes with lots of perks: It can help ensure you aren’t stuck with a broken heating system when the in-laws are visiting over the holidays (yikes), prevent an unforeseen trip to the local appliance store on what was supposed to be a spectacular ski weekend (eek), and make your place a climate-friendly haven (yay!). Want to learn more? Let’s get into it. 

Why It’s Important to Make Things Last

Take care of you heat pump and other energy-efficient appliancesTo understand why “making it last” is so critical for efficiency, we first need to do a teeny science lesson on something called embodied energy.  

Let’s say you buy a new fridge. It’s a rad new fridge with a computer that tells you when to buy new milk. As the most efficient fridge of its size, it will use 10% less energy than your old fridge. This is cool. (See what we did there?)

That fridge is made of parts and materials that took energy to make.
It took energy to put it on a boat and get it across the ocean to a warehouse.
It took energy to get it delivered to the store where you bought it, and more energy to get it to you and get it installed.

All that energy tied up in making that fridge and getting it to you? That’s embodied energy. And while that feels like a lot, the reality is that, over time, your energy-efficient fridge is going to “pay for” that embodied energy by SAVING lots of energy each year. So getting that new one IS better for the planet…in the long run.

But what if you have to buy a new one every 5 years? Does it “pay for” itself then? Nope. That’s why, beyond saving yourself the extra expense of having to replace appliances more often than necessary, making things last is a crucial component of a climate-friendly home. 

So, How Do We “Make It Last”? 

In short: We’ve gotta take care of our stuff. We’ve got to do our required yearly maintenance, as well as recommended preventative maintenance. 

This means we need to vacuum the fridge coils. Change the filters on our heat pumps. Keep our induction stovetops nice and clean. Regularly flush our heat pump water heaters. Doing this maintenance ensures our system doesn’t have to work extra hard (i.e., inefficiently) because the filter is super dirty or other maintenance hasn’t been performed. 

If keeping our systems maintained gives us an additional couple of years of life for our systems and appliances, that might mean that we buy one whole fridge fewer over our lifetime (in other words—BIG embodied and pocketbook energy savings). 


If you’re in an Elephant Energy coverage area (Colorado and Massachusetts, and more to come), give us a shout to learn about our maintenance packages that’ll keep your climate-friendly upgrades in tip-top shape. And if we aren’t in your area yet, ask your installation specialists when you make these home upgrades to see what they offer by way of keeping your systems singing year after year.

Rule 3: Be Efficient (Part 1)

Hi, hello, and welcome back to Elephant’s climate-friendly home series! In each edition, we’re breaking down simple steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint so you can feel good in your home and feel good about your home. Here’s what we’ve covered so far: 

Today, we’re digging into rule number 3: Be efficient. This one’s a biggun, so we’ve split it into two parts. Ready to learn about all things efficiency in your home? Read on. 

What “Be Efficient” Entails 

Imagine this: You’re walking down a sunny street in your local business district on a warm summer day. As you meander past a store, you’re met by a WHOOSH of blissfully cool air being pushed out to you on the sidewalk—their door is open and their AC is on full blast. While a delicious moment for you and your sweaty face, it’s pretty awful for the store’s climate impact (not to mention their energy bills). 

When we talk about being efficient, we’re talking about NOT doing this. And believe it or not, if you haven’t weatherized your home, you’ve probably been doing something similar the entire time you’ve owned your place. Every house tends to have leaky areas—where cold air is able to escape during the summer and heated air during the winter. The great news? By doing an energy audit and doing the necessary weatherization upgrades, you can put your home on the path to maximum efficiency. 

What It Looks Like in Your Home 

The first step to upping your home’s efficiency is getting an energy audit. During an audit, an expert conducts a thorough inspection toReceive an energy audit! Elephant Energy can help. pinpoint precisely where there are inefficiencies (i.e., cracks, crevices, and leaks where air is escaping) throughout your home. This includes inspecting heating and cooling systems, insulation, window integrity, sealing, and more. 

Once you’ve completed an energy audit, you can make the weatherization upgrades that will have the greatest impact on ensuring your place is comfortable, efficient, and environmentally friendly—talk about a wins-all-around situation! 

Remember how we mentioned this rule encompassed a LOT? Though weatherization is a huge component of being efficient in your home, it’s not the only component. Stay tuned for our next post in the series, where we’ll dig into more ways to up your home’s efficiency and make it as comfortable and climate-friendly as possible. 


Want to learn more about how to make your home as climate-friendly as possible? Our tool, Your Electrification Roadmap®, gives you personalized recommendations based on your distinct preferences, goals, and needs.