Heat Pump and Heat Pump Water Heater Partnership

Increasing adoption of heat pumps and heat pump water heaters in residential and commercial buildings. 

A ductless heat pump installed next to a house

Ductless heat pump outside compressor 

(Photo courtesy of Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance)

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)—in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Hummingbird Firm (a consulting firm that specializes in ensuring proper consideration of diversity, equity, and inclusion), and dozens of other key research and market transformation organizations—has established a national heat pump (HP) and heat pump water heater (HPWH) partnership to help drive adoption of these energy-saving technologies in both residential and commercial buildings.


The objectives of this three-year project are to: 

  • Develop and maintain a structured Field Validation Partnership between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the national laboratories, along with research, implementation, and market-transformation organizations. This will result in a unique way to coordinate market transformation efforts and field validation.
  • Maintain a continuous pipeline of information between DOE and the major industry players in the HP and HPWH space. 
  • Serve as a national clearinghouse for field test information from all entities and identify means for more widespread dissemination of field test results through the Heat Pump & Heat Pump Water Heater Field Database
  • Identify market gaps where additional information may enable higher adoption rates.
  • Develop and coordinate plans for collaborative field tests among stakeholders throughout the nation.
  • Work with relevant organizations to curate and host open-source training. 
  • Expand and clarify best practices to achieve market transformation in all regions of the United States.

Project Organization

Heat pump water heater
Heat pump water heater (Photo courtesy of Sunroc Builders)

The project is funded by DOE’s Building Technologies Office and led by a steering committee with representatives from DOE and four national laboratories. The committee receives input from the Hummingbird Firm, which specializes in identifying the needs of disadvantaged communities and communicating those needs to the committee. Each national laboratory also manages a core committee focused on different topic areas within HP and HPWH technology adoption.

The core committees led a national gaps analysis and prioritization process, which included hundreds of contributions from diverse organizations across the country. The process resulted in a set of sub-activities under each core committee that will work toward closing the highest-priority gaps. Listed below beneath each core committee are the challenges that will be addressed by sub-activities:

  • Late-stage Research, Development, and Demonstration (ORNL)
    1. HP system price reduction
    2. HPWH system price reduction
    3. Lack of field test data/field performance
    4. HPWH technology development (e.g., cold-climate HPWHs, improved compressor performance, and space constraints)
  • Building Integration Barriers (NREL)
    1. Cold-climate HP selection criteria, load calculations and system design, and data needs and availability; sizing heating pumps with existing ductwork
    2. Retrofitting sequencing needs, determining when weatherization and/or duct improvements are necessary, and addressing whole-building integration issues
    3. Cost to upgrade electrical panels and need for lower-cost options
    4. Need for integrated and dual fuel heat pump controls, better on-board controls, and onboard automated fault detection devices and performance monitoring 
    5. Integrating the sensors and controls necessary to enable central HPWHs to shift their hours of operation 
  • Workforce Development (PNNL)
    1. Addressing skilled labor shortage (recruitment)
    2. Curating residential HP/HPWH pre-field training for installers/service technicians 
    3. Curating residential HP/HPWH in-field on-the-job training for installers/service technicians 
    4. Curating residential HP/HPWH training for distributors/sales technicians 
    5. Providing resources to ensure contractor comfort with HP technology in any climate (especially cold climates) 
  • Regional Market and Policy (LBNL)
    1. Clearly articulating the value proposition for HP/HPWH adoption in general and for low-to-moderate income and energy-burdened communities
    2. Misalignment in electrification policy in some regions is hindering adoption 
    3. Unfavorable utility retail electricity rates for electrification in many cases 
    4. Lack of customer knowledge of installed costs (and what’s included) for HPs and HPWHs in their region 
    5. Providing customer education resources on qualified contractors

As the core committees and sub-activity leads work to address the challenges above, the Hummingbird Firm will continue to help the whole team to: 

  • Gather diverse perspectives and insights and center equity throughout the process.
  • Plan and document robust community needs. 
  • Include diverse viewpoints to address challenges and foster innovation to increase adoption of HP and HPWH technologies.
  • Facilitate effective communication with DOE to enhance collaboration and enable an exchange of lesson learned. 

Contributing Organizations

Team of people joining hands for a cheer
(Photo: cottonbro studio)

This project relies on collaboration among a variety of organizations. We would like to acknowledge the incredible efforts of the organizations that are leading committees or working groups. We could not do it without you!

Contact Us

Please email Fredericka Brown if you are interested in joining the partnership or specific working group(s).