image of two folks holding up I love heat pump shirts
Oregon has big climate goals: heat pumps get us there

Oregon is facing twin crises of affordable housing and climate change, and we have set ambitious goals to respond. We have goals to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2040, an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and to build 36,000 units of new housing every year. Heat pumps are an essential piece of the puzzle for meeting our climate and affordable housing goals. They both reduce climate emissions and provide long-term energy affordability for users. Read more about the benefits of heat pumps in Part One of this series

The State of Oregon and the Biden administration have recognized the tremendous potential of heat pumps for protecting our health, climate, and wallets. Oregon has set a goal to have 500,000 heat pumps installed by 2030. This is an aggressive goal and timeline, but necessary in a time where 58% of our neighbors are living without adequate cooling in the face of ever-increasing heat. 

There are now more opportunities than ever to affordably switch to heat pumps. At the federal level, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) established incentives for heat pumps to get up to $2000 back on the cost of installation. For low and moderate-income households Oregon is also expected to receive $56 million in federal Home Efficiency Rebates (HOMES) and $57 million in Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates (HEAR). The Oregon Department of Energy hopes to make these funds available starting in early 2025. 

In response to the 2021 heat dome, the state launched two programs to help more Oregonians access the life-saving benefits of heat pumps. The Rental Home Heat Pump Program provides rebates to landlords of affordable housing and other multifamily buildings for putting in heat pumps. The Community Heat Pump Deployment Program provides grant funds to community organizations across the state to support residents, particularly environmental justice communities and low-income Oregonians, with the purchase and installation of a heat pump. 

Portland’s Clean Energy Community Benefit Fund (PCEF) also has a Cooling Portland program, which has already distributed over 3,000 portable cooling units, including portable heat pumps. Cooling Portland’s goal is to distribute 15,000 units by 2026. 

All of these programs are already incredibly popular, and demand for each has been immediate. The state’s rental home heat pump program expended all $15 million of its initial funding in less than a year and is expected to run through the additional $4 million it received in 2024 just as quickly. Cooling Portland is also working to scale up its programs due to high demand. Continued and enhanced funding for these programs is critical to ensuring equitable access to the incredible benefits of heat pumps. 

Electrification and heat pumps can even reduce the cost of building the housing we so desperately need! Installing heat pumps in all new construction can ensure access to healthy and affordable heating and cooling, help us achieve our heat pump targets, and save upfront building costs

To realize heat pumps' incredible potential to deliver greater comfort at lower prices, we must also address the cost of energy in the short term. Oregon’s Cooling Needs Study found that many people don’t use their existing cooling equipment due to fear of increased energy bills. Utilities continue to raise rates faster and higher than people can bear, placing Oregonians at greater risk from extreme temperatures. 

As we enter the summer and prepare to face heat and smoke, heat pumps can provide safety and comfort for Oregon families, without sending utility bills soaring. In order to ensure equitable access to safe and healthy homes, we must continue to make heat pumps affordable and available to all Oregonians. Stay tuned for updates from Climate Solutions with more information and opportunities to help defend and reinvest in the critical programs that are making these life-saving appliances available to families who need them. 

Author Bio

Claire Prihoda
Claire Prihoda

Oregon Buildings Policy Manager, Climate Solutions

As Oregon Buildings Policy Manager, Claire works to advance policies and regulations that will drive Oregon's transition to safe, equitable and resilient buildings, run on 100% clean energy. 

Prior to joining Climate Solutions, Claire worked as a legislative aide in the Oregon State Legislature. In that role, she was able to help pass the Resilient Efficient Buildings Package, including a statewide building performance standard, heat pump incentives and adoption goals, and building codes that align with Oregon's climate goals. Claire holds a B.A. in Philosophy with a certificate in Public Policy and Community Action. She is currently a JD candidate at Lewis & Clark Law School and is expected to graduate in the spring of 2027. 

Claire grew up in Portland, Oregon and enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest, paddleboarding, baking and cuddles with her cat Belladonna.