Heat Pump Survey Results

Survey Method and Respondents

To get a window into current local heat pump installation practices, I sent a survey invitation to 2400 people on my office mailing list who had either recently subscribed or had clicked emailed links to a recent home energy survey. The survey invitation went out around 10AM on Tuesday, January 31 and the survey form was closed at 8AM on Thursday, February 2.

The survey invitation read as follows:

Sending a quick survey for people who have installed heat pumps or are thinking about them. It seeks a few specifics not covered in previous surveys.

251 people replied to the survey including some who had not installed and were not planning to install heat pumps.

Table 1: Heat Pump Status (N=251)

Heat pump status in my homeCount
Specifically planning20
Generally planning63
Don’t work for me30
Not interested11
Grand Total251

The analysis below derives from the 210 respondents who had installed or were planning to install heat pumps (the first three categories in the table above). This overall response rate was roughly consistent with the results of our previous survey of the same group in which approximately 160 people indicated that their primary source of heat was heat pumps.

Based on zip code, approximately 175 of the 210 installed/planning-to-install respondents were in my senate district with most of the balance coming from elsewhere in Massachusetts.

Most respondents were in 1 to 4 family structures.

Table 2: Dwelling Type (N=210)

Dwelling TypeCount
Single Family141
2-4 units51
5 or more units18
Grand Total210
One respondent answering “unsure” was grouped in the > 5 category.

Responding homes had varying bedroom count, but 163 (78% of the sample) had 3 or more bedrooms.

Table 3: Bedroom Count by Dwelling Type (N=210)

Type1 Bdrm2 Bdrm3 Bdrm4+BdrmTotal
Single Family1106862141
2-4 units320171151
5 or more583218
Grand Total9388875210

Heat Pump Installation Types

The majority of the sample made or were planning to do partial conversions — continuing to use to some extent their legacy fossil system. This was true regardless of the installation year. In the “Planned” category, many were understandably unsure as to whether their conversion would be full or partial.

Table 4: Implemented and planned systems (N=205) where system type known (N=166) by system type

System TypePre-20222022PlannedAll Years
Excludes new construction

Massachusetts current climate plan uses a 2020 benchmark and a 2030 goal for heat pump installation that is more skewed towards partial conversion. I believe my survey respondents skew towards being concerned about climate and they may be more likely to invest in a full conversion.

Comparison Table 1: Installed Heat Pump Metrics from 2025/30 Climate Plan Appendices

FullPartialTotalPartial as % of Total
State Climate Plan 2020 Actual 40,000220,000260,00085%
State Climate Plan 2030 Target140,000610,000750,00081%
2020->2030 Change Goal100,000410,000510,00080%
See Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan, 2025/30, Appendices, page 159.

Also worth bearing in mind is the definition of a “full” conversion. In the survey, it meant that the heating system was “heat pumps only,” but in follow up correspondence with 18 respondents who supplied their email, 5 were making continued non-emergency use of their fossil fuel system. It’s not clear what the state will be considering as “full”; the phrase used in the cited climate plan Appendix is “Homes with whole-home air source heat pump space heating,” which does not necessarily imply never using fossil.

Quantifying Use of Legacy Systems in Partial Conversions

In this sample, among those who said they were doing a partial conversion, the majority will be using their legacy fossil system through much of the heating season — the first three rows of Table 5 totaling 69%.

Table 5: Use of legacy heating systems in installed partial conversions (N=77)

The other (non-heat-pump) system is/will be used . . . Count% of
Most of the heating season2532%
Colder days [much of the heating season]2127%
Not sure, thermostat controls [reported settings were 55 to 70]810%
A few of the coldest days [rare use]1317%
Not sure11%
Excludes new construction

Table 6: Use of heat pumps in installed partial conversions (N=77)

The heat pump(s) is/will be used . . .Count% of
Primarily for AC2330%
As needed3545%
When outdoor temp above setting [reported settings ranged from 20 to 40]1114%
Grand Total77100%
Excludes new construction

Tables 5 and 6 together suggest that the legacy fossil systems will continue to supply a good share of the heat in many of the partial conversions. The heating load (heating degree hours) across the heating season in New England splits between hours below a temperature of about 33F and hours above that level. More detail here.

Previous heating system

While natural gas is cheap and conversions from natural gas to heat pumps usually increase operating costs, most of the heat pump conversions were from natural gas, suggesting that people in this sample lacked or were not sensitive to operating cost projections. The share of the sample converting natural gas (68%) mirrored the share of natural gas users in the much larger previous survey (65%).

Table 7: Previous heating system in installed and planned conversions (N=210)

Before heat pumps, primary heat wasCount% of
New construction52%
Electric resistance52%
Grand Total210100%

Ducted systems — before and after heat pumps

Over half of heat pump conversions were from some form of ductless heat (radiators, etc.) to ductless heat pump systems. Counterintuitively, the share of conversions originating from ducted systems (34 out of 163 or 21%) was less than the share of homes having some form ducts in the larger original sample (46%). In other words, in this sample, people with non-ducted homes were apparently more likely to convert. One explanation for this could be that many were motivated in part add air conditioning through their heat pump conversion; those with ducts already were more likely to have air conditioning and be less motivated to convert.

Table 8: Ductless vs. Ducted, Before and After Conversion (where both known, N=163)

New SystemOld heating system ducted hot air Old system not ducted hot air (radiators, etc.)Total old systems
Ducted heat pumps242549
Ductless heat pumps991100
Both ducted and ductless heat pumps11314
Total new systems34129163

Mass Save Engagement

Most people doing heat pump conversions were engaged with Mass Save, although 11% found themselves ineligible for rebates:

Table 9: Mass Save Rebate Status (installed or planned 2018 to 2023, N=121)

Mass Save RebatesCount% of Total
Planning to apply2722%
Applied, waiting1512%
Not eligible1311%
Not sure108%
Applied, denied22%
Total in date range121100%

Satisfaction with Heat Pumps

Overall a majority were happy with their heat pumps, whether they had a full or partial conversion.

Table 7: Installed conversions (N=127) — “My feeling about my heat pumps”

Conversion TypeHappyAmbivalentUnsureUnhappyTotal
Grand Total73%16%9%2%100%
* The unsure/unsure category includes only 1 respondent.


Underlying data (with no identifiers) appears here — 251 survey responses.

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