All new construction in Washington state, both commercial and residential, will require high-performance heat pumps beginning July 2023, making it the second state to do so.
The Washington Building Code Council made the ruling earlier this month, tacking new home construction to the already established commercial ruling. The council voted to enact the requirement for new commercial construction in April this year.
Heat pumps rely on the movement of cold and warm air between the inside and outside of a home and are powered by electricity. It can be used for both air conditioning and heating.
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“Since they move heat around rather than generating it from burning something, they are much more efficient than combustion heating,” Jonathan J. Buonocore, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health told Popular Science. “By replacing a natural gas furnace, oil heater, wood stove, or some other combustion source, you’re benefiting the environment by replacing a source of emissions of greenhouse gasses or other air pollution.”
According to local news, the vote came after months of “contentious” public testimony. The council voted 9-5 in favor of the requirement. One argument against the ruling was that it would push home prices higher.
Other state mandates include Maine’s October 2021 promise to installing 100,000 heat pumps by 2025 and California’s statewide electric heat pump requirement also starting in 2023.
In climates where the temps get below 32 a back-up heat source is required as a heat pump will struggle to heat to a comfortable temperature. Electric resistance coil heater is the typical go to on this scenario. if you are good with a $1000 electric bill in the winter months for your home than you'll love a heat pump.
Heat pump and temps
As a custom builder I have installed 2 Cold weather Mitsubishi heat pumps Near Chicago and in Michigan. Each of these heat pumps operated efficiently at below zero temps without the electric backup operating, I know this as I had the units turned off specifically to find out how well the heat pump operated at below zero temps, both units held a set temp of 69 degrees. The literature says they will operate efficiently down to -4 degrees
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This assistant professor's statements should be clarified. If natural gas is used to generate the electricity to the home the electricity is not more efficient. Not to mention that it takes fewer therms of natural gas to heat a home than kilowatts of electricity.