With more than 63,000 heat pumps installed, Vermont leads the northeast in zero-emissions heating systems


The Green Mountain State proves a heat pump trailblazer through a decade of rebates

WINOOSKI, VT—More Vermonters are warming up from the January chill with heat pumps. That’s because Vermont leads the northeast when it comes to installations of the ultra-efficient, all-electric, and emissions-free heating systems. Vermont has installed more heat pumps per capita than any other state in New England. That’s according to Efficiency Vermont installation data through 2023. This heat pump leadership in 2024 also marks a decade of Efficiency Vermont’s groundbreaking point-of-sale discount program, offered in partnership with Vermont’s electric utilities, which makes heat pumps more affordable and accessible to Vermonters statewide. 

“Vermont now has more than 63,000 heat pump systems heating homes and businesses. That includes more than 11,000 installed in 2023,” said Phil Bickel, the heat pump program manager at Efficiency Vermont. “More and more people are learning just how effective heat pumps are at keeping their homes warm and comfortable. And in most cases, keeping their bills lower than if they were using fossil fuels to heat their homes.”  

The Green Mountain State leads New England in per capita installations of ducted and ductless “mini split” heat pump systems, with 97 heat pumps for every 1,000 residents (based on the latest US Census estimates). Hot on Vermont’s heels is Maine, which boasts more heat pumps overall — more than 131,000 rebates issued — for a per capita rate of 94 heat pumps per 1,000 residents. That’s according to Efficiency Maine, which plans and implements energy efficiency programs in the Pine Tree State.  (Massachusetts, with 7 million residents, has fewer than 30,000 heat pumps installed, a per capita rate of about 4.) 

Other notable heat pump landmarks in Vermont include: 

  • More than 57,000 residential and nearly 6,000 commercial heat pump systems installed. This includes ducted heat pump systems and ductless “mini split” heat pump systems. Rebates from Vermont’s electric utilities have been crucial to this success. Discounts and bonuses from Green Mountain Power, Burlington Electric Department, Stowe Electric Department, Vermont Electric Cooperative, Washington Electric Co-op, and 11 municipal utilities in the Vermont Public Power Supply Authority (VPPSA) have all helped Vermonters add heat pumps to their home.
  • More than 100 air-to-water heat pump systems installed. Vermont was the first state to launch heat pump offers for homes that heat using hot water, usually from a boiler. This first-ever air-to-water heat pump (AWHP) program has been emulated by states like Massachusetts and New York. As a result of this work, ENERGY STAR awarded these products the Emerging Technology Award as they work toward national standards to certify AWHPs with the ENERGY STAR label. Get up to $6,500 back with rebates on air-to-water heat pump systems.
  • More than 180 heat pump installers in Vermont’s workforce. These heat pump specialists are at work in all 14 Vermont counties through the Efficiency Excellence Network (EEN). The EEN is Efficiency Vermont’s statewide trade group of independent contractors. Several HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) businesses have fully pivoted to heat pumps. The EEN has also expanded Vermont's workforce to install and maintain these systems.

“Heat pumps are the not-so-secret weapon to combating climate change in Vermont and beyond – and it’s important that Vermonters have the support and guidance they need to figure out if they are the best fit for their homes,” said Peter Walke, Efficiency Vermont’s managing director. “For those who make that choice, they’ll keep your home warm without the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels thanks to clean, renewable electricity in Vermont’s grid. They’ll also help our state meet mandatory emissions reductions in the decades ahead. And the financial contributions and joint promotion with our utility partners are helping ensure that every Vermonter who wants a heat pump can afford one.”  

Vermont’s heat pump success is no accident. It’s the result of years of work coordinated by Efficiency Vermont. That includes working with manufacturers to ensure heat pumps are vetted for Vermont’s cold climate. Working with regional partners to set performance and quality specifications for cold-climate heat pump technology. Working with the supply chain to ensure the types of heat pumps needed for our northern climate are available. Working with local technicians and contractors so they’re trained to install and maintain these machines. And working with our utility partners to promote and incentivize heat pumps to customers. 

It also involves working with regional wholesalers to ensure a smooth rebate process that lowers the up-front costs for heat pump buyers. “At F.W. Webb, we strive to educate contractors about rebates so they can help homeowners save money by upgrading to high-efficiency heat pumps,” said Laura Bassett, Energy Program Manager at F.W. Webb, the largest wholesale distributor for HVAC in the northeast. “Efficiency Vermont’s diligence in streamlining the heat pump rebate process has resulted in greater clarity and easier implementation for distributors and contractors using the program.” 

"The collaboration between Vermont utilities and Efficiency Vermont's innovative program management is a winning model for other states to follow,” said Rebecca Foster, CEO of sustainable energy nonprofit VEIC, which operates Efficiency Vermont. "At this critical time for our planet, it’s important to not just celebrate these milestones—but share how we achieved them, and make clean energy solutions accessible to as many people as possible."  

Alongside utility partners and trade allies, Efficiency Vermont is also advancing:

  • Heat pump water heaters, with more than 17,800 installations. The efficiency and energy savings of heat pumps can provide your home with hot water, too. Vermont was among the first states to support retail and distributor programs for heat pump water heaters. Eligible households can get 100% cash back (up to $5,000) for the purchase and installation of a new heat pump water heater. (*Updated May 1, 2024)
  • Bringing heat pump efficiency to your laundry. Heat pump washers and dryers are up to 40% more efficient than standard electric models. But they don't just save energy. Their advanced moisture sensors and lower drying temperatures are gentler on your clothes. They can even dry delicates you wouldn’t otherwise put in the dryer. Get up to $400 cash back on an ENERGY STAR "Most Efficient" dryer with heat pump technology.
  • Exploring new heat pump applications and technologies. Efficiency Vermont is testing the versatility and efficiency of heat pumps in new ways. Pilot projects include window-based heat pump units for renters. These are about the same size as a window air conditioning unit, and can both heat and cool rental units. Plus, there's a “thermal battery” project where heat pumps work in tandem with hot water tanks. These “thermal batteries” use a steady supply of hot water to heat your home. All while maximizing efficiency and operating when clean electricity is most abundant. 

Heat pumps are up to 300% more efficient at heating than fossil fuels. That’s because heat pumps use electricity to move heat rather than burning fuel to make heat. This allows heat pumps to keep a home at a steady, comfortable temperature with just a fraction of the energy used when fuel is burned to heat a home. In most cases, heating with heat pumps instead of fossil fuels means a big savings on your heating bill—and a big reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s one reason why Americans are buying more heat pumps than gas furnaces. And it’s why 25 states have pledged to install 20 million heat pumps by 2030.

About Efficiency Vermont

As the nation’s first Energy Efficiency Utility, Efficiency Vermont has helped Vermont avoid over 13.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and has received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence award for the last eight consecutive years. Efficiency Vermont works with partners to help our state transition to more affordable, low carbon energy use through education, incentives, and support for our clean energy workforce. Learn more at www.efficiencyvermont.com.

Efficiency Vermont Press Contact
Matthew Smith
Phone: (802) 540-7662
[email protected]