Heat pumps are so efficient, in fact, that even if they’re powered by fossil fuels, “it’s still a big upgrade,” Duncan Gibb, lead analyst for heating and buildings at REN21, which advocates for renewables, told WIRED last year. “There’s really nothing to lose by making buildings more efficient as quickly as possible and deploying heat pumps.”
They work for commercial buildings, too, in versions that are scaled up from residential designs. Combined, residential and commercial buildings accounted for 40 percent of US energy consumption in 2022.
But as more heat pumps roll off the assembly line, the nation will need workers to install them—and more broadly to retrofit the aging electrical grid that powers them. That’s going to require huge training programs. “The green transition is going to generate upwards of 25 million new jobs [in the US] in the next 15 years—this is just going to be a tremendous transformation of the US workforce,” Mark Paul, an environmental economist at Rutgers University, told WIRED earlier this year. “You can’t outsource the installation of heat pumps or solar panels on somebody’s roof to China or Bangladesh.”