Shift Happens

The Northeast has long been a leader in several areas of clean energy. So, it’s no surprise that partners at the US Department of Energy (DOE) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) identified the Northeast as one of the most well-positioned regions to lead renewed efforts to transform the residential HVAC markets to heat pumps. To help facilitate this effort, DOE and PNNL identified NEEP as a key partner, providing significant funding to produce a suite of resources that will inform the path forward.

Why the Northeast?
For starters, the heat pump market is growing here. Thanks to a combination of HVAC market actors from active states to energy efficiency program administrators to a motivated supply chain of manufacturers, distributors, and contractors, the market saw approximately 25 percent annual growth from 2017-2021. The combined New York-New England market saw huge growth, from less than 50,000 ASHP sold in 2013 to 230,000 ASHPs sold in 2021.

The Northeast also has a strong regional network of stakeholders coordinated by NEEP. Since 2013, NEEP has facilitated its Heating Electrification Initiative, a regional market transformation effort aimed at accelerating market adoption of heat pump systems for space heating and cooling. Market transformation strategies identified by regional stakeholders have guided activities in the long-term Initiative. NEEP has used annual market transformation progress reports (2022 for example) to assess strategy implementation and necessary course corrections. The 2022 report indicated, for instance, that consumer education and contractor training were top priorities for regional action.

Why Start From Scratch When There Is Existing “Infrastructure”?  
In 2024, new funding from US DOE allows NEEP and the Northeast to go further and faster. US DOE and PNNL are interested in the expanded effort to focus on market development of ASHPs in residential single-family and multifamily applications. DOE’s charge to NEEP is to identify key opportunities to significantly scale the ASHP market well beyond where it stands today. Residential applications and commercial and large multifamily applications are all components of NEEP’s broader Heating Electrification Initiative.

""scale up

Since launching the DOE-supported ASHP project in January, NEEP has been busy designing several exciting elements of the project, including major new research and stakeholder engagement. Two key features of the expanded Initiative will be a new market assessment and a series of guides for residential ASHP program best practices.

Regional ASHP Market Assessment
NEEP will characterize the current residential heating market in the region. Informed by a series of interviews with key stakeholders, the characterization will include the size of the current and potential market, a map of the current stakeholder network, a summary of current energy efficiency program an analysis of the latest barriers, opportunities, and best practices related to heat pump adoption, and more. NEEP will share identified program best practices across the region and beyond. The market needs and barriers will be particularly useful in guiding regional and federal market development activities going forward.  

Program Best Practice Guidance
NEEP will also develop a series of program best practice guides that cover several program areas including ASHP workforce development programs and income eligible ASHP program implementation. We anticipate about six best-practice guides on the following topics:

  • ASHP Workforce Development Programs
  • Designing and Sizing ASHPs in Cold Climates
  • Future Availability and Use of Additional ASHP Performance Data 
  • Income-eligible Program Implementation
  • ASHP Mid-stream Programs
  • Co-promotion of ASHPs and Envelope Measures

The guides will be informed by research and stakeholder engagement and are expected to be released by the end of the year. Research will focus on the current state of program activity, in the region and beyond, for each of these topic areas.

Getting Involved
NEEP has organized advisory committees made up of market actors to provide direction and insight into the guides. Most of the committees have met to finalize key research questions, but there is still time for you to weigh in. If you are interested in participating on any of the committees, please contact the NEEP team.

NEEP is also organizing an in-person meeting, with NEEP Summit 2024, to discuss progress on the ASHP resources and the NEEP Heating Electrification Initiative. Please contact the NEEP team if you are interested in joining. NEEP will also host a Heating Electrification Workshop (HEW) in November 2024 – stay tuned for more information soon.

We hope you’ll want to be involved in this exciting project, which simultaneously supports the broad adoption of program best practices in the near term, while informing future market development activities in 2025 and beyond. Stay tuned for updates as the project progresses in 2024.

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