Starting July 1, 2023, heat pumps will be required for space and water heating in all new-home construction throughout Washington state following a divided State Building Code Council (SBCC) meeting on Nov. 4. Under the code changes, heat pumps can be powered by natural gas or electricity, a more sustainable option for homeowners which some council members argue will also lead to higher utility costs and an overwhelmed electric power grid across the state of Washington.
The new mandate does not authorize the SBCC to restrict natural gas use as a backup heat source, and despite pushback from some industry leaders and council members, the proposed energy code changes have garnered the support of thousands of Washingtonians, the Yakima Herald-Republic reports.
Kjell Anderson, an architect and SBCC member from the Seattle area, chaired the residential energy code subcommittee that reviewed the heat pump proposals, and urged approval of the new rules.
“No one is taking away anyone’s ability to have gas as a backup heat source,” Anderson said during the Nov. 4 SBCC meeting. “Heat pumps are not a fringe technology. They are already being installed in the majority of Washington homes.”