By Cavan Merski

When you spend your day surrounded by co-workers, you can forget that not everyone knows the same stuff you do. That’s especially true in areas that intersect at Pecan Street, like energy and data.

I was reminded of this recently when talking with friends about some of the incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act. Most people have heard about the rebates for electric vehicles, but the IRA also includes some rebates for other important things Pecan Street studies – things like electrical panel upgrades and heat pumps.

“Why would we need heat pumps here,” someone asked me. “It’s hotter than hell in Austin?”

Turns out that really smart people may not know what a heat pump is, why the Inflation Reduction Act would include rebates for it, or how the heating (and cooling!) technology can help people stay comfortable AND help reduce climate emissions.

So we developed a quick primer on heat pump technology and supplemented it with some data from homes in Pecan Street’s research network to illustrate how the technology can impact energy use in different regions. 

The bottom line is that we’re all going to be hearing about heat pumps a lot in the coming years. If you don’t have one for your heating and cooling needs, it certainly should be on your 2023 list of things to learn about. Most people make very quick decisions about their HVAC systems because they’re trying to replace one that broke. The more you know about the choices you have when that day comes, the better prepared you’ll be to make a smart decision.

We’re looking closely at the kind of data we can gather from heat pump homes in our network and will conduct additional analyses throughout the year. In the meantime, please enjoy this quick primer and send it to folks you think need to know.