Heat pumps have been around for decades, but the technology has been experiencing a clear moment in the sun in recent years, with global sales increasing by double digits in both 2021 and 2022, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Heat pumps were featured on MIT Technology Review’s 2024 list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies.
Sales fell by nearly 17% in 2023 in the US, one of the technology’s largest markets, according to new data from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute. The slowdown comes after nearly a decade of constant growth. The AHRI data isn’t comprehensive, but the organization includes manufacturers accounting for about 90% of the units sold in the US annually.
However, the decline likely says less about heat pumps than it does about the whole HVAC sector, since gas furnaces and air conditioners saw even steeper drops. Gas furnace sales declined even more than heat pumps did in 2023, so heat pumps actually made up a slightly larger percentage of sales this year than in 2022.
The broad slowdown reflects broader consumer pessimism amid higher interest rates and inflation, says Yannick Monschauer, an analyst at the IEA, via email.
“We have also been observing slowing heat pump sales in other parts of the world for 2023,” Monschauer adds. In Europe, a rush to electrify, driven by the energy crisis and rising natural gas prices, has slowed.