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  • Writer's picturePA-GEO

Shifting to Heat Pumps: Key Benefits Over Boilers and Furnaces in Cold Temperatures

This Article highlights the debunking of the myth that fossil-fueled heating systems outperform heat pumps if the weather gets too cold.

A team of European researchers associated with the independent nonprofit Regulatory Assistance Project has recently published a study in Joule, reinforcing the fact that heat pumps not only operate effectively in freezing temperatures but also outperform fossil-fuel heating systems in such conditions. This dispels the misconception that heat pumps are unsuitable for cold climates.


Electric heat pumps have the capability to both warm and cool indoor spaces by transferring warmth as required. Despite a global sales increase of 11 percent in 2022, as reported by the International Energy Agency, heat pumps still only constitute a small fraction of the world's building heating solutions. To meet the net-zero emissions goal set by the Paris Agreement for 2050, a substantial number of fossil-fuel boilers and furnaces, even in regions with extremely cold winters, will need to be replaced by heat pumps.

In the past, frigid temperatures have been a hindrance to this technology, with significant utility companies and vested interests in fossil fuels claiming that heat pumps are ineffective below freezing, citing reduced efficiency as proof. However, both the recent study and examples from regions like Norway and Maine demonstrate that contemporary heat pumps are dependable and surpass fossil-fuel heating even in cold conditions.


To assess the performance of air-source heat pumps in plummeting temperatures, the research team conducted an analysis of data from seven field studies conducted across three continents. They gathered insights from various heat pump models used in Canada, China, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.




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