Most residential buildings in the United States are heated and cooled by either a natural gas furnace paired with an air conditioner or an electric heat pump. A growing number of policymakers are considering electrification (converting natural gas appliances to electric heat pumps in new and existing construction) as a means of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that result from natural gas combustion and leakage. Although electric heat pumps do not have on-site combustion, there are emissions associated with the electricity that powers them as well as with refrigerant leaks.
This novel study considers GHG emissions impacts of installing and operating a heat pump or gas furnace for 15-years across all U.S. regions and climates, including emissions from electricity generation, combustion, and from methane and refrigerant leakage. The study applies long-run marginal emissions factors to represent future grid emissions from permanent increases in electricity demand that are expected to result from heat pump adoption.
Project Sponsor: Natural Resources Defense Council