Are Heat Pumps the Answer to Global Warming?

Global warming has become part of our daily language, along with terms like going green or sustainability. Every concerned citizen is interested in lowering their carbon footprint and doing their bit for the environment. This article focuses on one change that your household can make to reduce its impact on the environment: replacing your current heating system with an electricity-based heat pump. It aims to answer the question, ‘are heat pumps the answer to global warming?’

To make sure everyone is on the same page, despite its name, a heat pump provides both hot and cold air. It is the equivalent of using an air conditioner in summer and a furnace or boiler in winter. All in one product.

Global Warming and the Role of Households

Everyday activities that people perform are the cause of most of the upsurge in greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere across the last one-and-a-half centuries, which must be addressed by household sustainability, along with efforts by businesses. In the United States, overwhelmingly the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions comes from these activities. 

Burning fossil fuels to provide heat, electricity, and transport are the biggest culprits that households and consumers are guilty of. Electricity production accounts for 25 percent of 2019 greenhouse gas emissions; sixty-two percent of this negative effect comes from burning fossil fuels such as gas and coal. 

With temperatures soaring due to global warming, many households are purchasing air conditioners for the first time. With a small additional investment, they can benefit from cooler air in the summer months and heating during the colder seasons.

How does your Heating Product affect Global Warming?

Power plants that run on gas or coal produce emissions that increase global warming. Replacing your natural gas furnace, electric furnace, propane furnace, baseboard heater, fuel oil boiler, fuel oil furnace, or natural gas burner with a heat pump can reduce your carbon footprint by between 1.1 tons and 7.6 tons. By way of comparison, becoming a vegan will decrease your carbon footprint by 1.0 tonne. 

Annually, in the United States, consumers are purchasing three million heat pumps compared to five million air conditioners. By getting the remaining two million consumers to install heat pumps instead, it is possible to make a huge difference in the use of fossil fuels. This would entail a saving of 33 percent a year in the US. Along with the ongoing increase in solar and wind power, there would be significant gains in terms of global warming.

Before global warming became such a huge and prevalent problem, temperatures were milder, and it was easy to cool down by opening windows. The problem with this solution is the danger of fires, so using a heat pump reduces this possibility.

The Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps

In the winter months, carbon dioxide emissions are caused by unresourceful furnaces that are fuelled by fossil fuels. Electric resistance heaters are very common in households and are also far less efficient than a heat pump. However, in sub-zero temperatures, heat pumps may prove less efficient than using your normal, existing furnace. This means that your decision to purchase a heat pump may be affected by the state in which you live and how cold it gets. In the warmer states, a heat pump is still the best option. However, some products now in the market can handle extremely cold temperatures as well, although with reduced energy savings at extremes of freezing weather.

Heat pumps are said to provide a more comfortable heating experience than traditional heaters. So, you could swap from an air conditioner to a heat pump with very little required to get it up and running. This would give you the advantage of both hot and cold air, setting you up for any season.

The benefits of reducing global warming are a massive advantage provided by heat pumps over more conventional heating systems that burn fossil fuels.

A heat pump can involve a significant investment. However, this is offset by the gains in a reduced utility bill so that the system pays for itself. You can also look at this guide for more information on the heat pump cost savings available to reduce the overall expense. Carbon Switch offers a range of useful guides to help consumers and businesses be more sustainable and save money. 

The answer to the question, ‘are heat pumps the answer to global warming’ is yes, in many instances. In addition to reducing the carbon footprint of a household by doing away with harmful gas emissions, it has been shown that you can save costs on your monthly utility bill. It is also not much pricier than buying an air conditioner and has the added benefit of providing cooling as well as heating. So, if you are building a new home or getting an air conditioner, you should explore this option. 

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.