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Heat pumps: Many caveats, pitfalls to making this switch

Everett Shorey of Arlington wrote the following letter, which was published in the Aug. 28 Boston Globe and is republished with the author's permission.

The writer is a consultant who represents the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, the trade association of furnace, boiler, and heat pump manufacturers, on U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards. He is also a commissioner of the Block Island Utility District, the electric utility on Block Island. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent those of either organization.

The Globe should be commended for taking on a complex, technical topic like heat pumps and their implications for climate change. But there are nuances to this topic that need to be taken into account.

Ultimately, burning fossil fuels in homes for heat needs to be replaced by electricity and heat pumps. However, this seems to assume that electricity is generated using renewable resources. Using more electricity in New England means burning more natural gas to create that electricity. We are years, if not decades, from switching to electricity that does not result in the consumption of natural gas.

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