Bellevue city council approves $387,000 in incentives to install heat pumps



(The Center Square) – In a push to proliferate more-expensive heat pumps in homes, Bellevue is willing to subsidize up to $6,400 per unit.

The Bellevue City Council approved an ordinance on Dec. 4 that authorizes a sub-grant agreement with King County and accepts grant funds for the Energy Smart Eastside Heat Pump Program in the amount of $387,500.

The Energy Smart Eastside Heat Pump Program has $3.7 million in total grant and municipal funding as of November. The funds are split between King County and the eastside cities, including Bellevue.

While more energy efficient, heat pumps are expensive. According to the Seattle Times, installation can rage from $8,000 to $40,000 depending on how much additional construction work must happen.

The city will administer the grant funds through the program and is anticipated to benefit residents located in the Cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Mercer Island and Redmond.

As part of the newly-approved program, homeowners are qualified for a $500 equipment rebate provided through a partnership with Gensco, a heat pump distributor.

Residents could also receive a $1,500 equipment rebate to incentivize switching to a heat pump. This program is targeted at middle-income residents [$190,000 or less annually], according to the legislation.

The Boost Program is for low-income homeowners who qualify for 100% cost coverage for the purchase and installation of heat pumps.

Lastly, there is a referral program as part of the approved ordinance. This program refers affordable housing buildings to the King County Housing Authority Weatherization Program, for whole-building retrofit with insulation and heat pumps.

“Our communities have a lot of homes with aging furnaces, and heat pumps have long offered an energy-efficient replacement option that makes sense,” Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson said in a statement. “With the ‘Make the Switch’ incentives, many will see that heat pumps make cents too.”

The Washington State Building Code Council recently adopted amendments to statewide energy codes that place additional regulations around installing natural gas, as previously reported by The Center Square.

The council originally voted to mandate heat pumps for space and water heating, while prohibiting natural gas lines prior to the adopted amendments last month.

Those that oppose enforcing heat pumps argue they make it more costly to build homes due to heat pumps having high upfront costs.

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