“Replace it before it Breaks” – Income qualified heat pump water heater replacement

Developed from a pitch at the EAN Fall 2021 Summit

Overview: Approximately 25,000 water heaters are replaced in Vermont each year, according to the Vermont Climate Action Plan. Currently, the vast majority of new water heaters installed (70%) are fossil fuel-fired, and only about 2,000 of those new water heaters installed each year are efficient heat pump water heaters. With each installation of fossil fuel-fired equipment, we are locking Vermonters into more price volatility and exacerbating planetary impacts.

This EAN Network Action Team proposed a Switch and Save program to the Vermont Legislature in 2022 to implement a targeted, focused program to proactively support lower-income Vermonters to install cost-saving heat pump hot water heaters. $5 million dollars were allocated in the Vermont FY2023 budget for this program, which will build on existing utility and Efficiency Vermont heat pump water heater incentives to provide income-qualified Vermonters new, energy efficient heat pump water heaters at low or no cost (including electrical work). The program will focus on Vermonters with older water heaters that are at risk of failure in the near future (or those whose water heaters have just failed).  The Public Service Department will design and implement the program, which is likely to begin in the winter of 2023.

The program will offer several key benefits:

  • Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings for Vermonters
  • Aid Progress Toward Climate Requirements
  • Spur Switch Out Before Equipment Fails
  • Manage Peak Electric Demand
  • Help Avoid Vermonters Locking Into Price-Volatile Fossil-Fired Systems
  • Increase Customer and Contractor Focus on Water Heaters

Network members and partners supporting this effort:  

  • Burlington Electric Department (Darren Springer)
  • Linda McGinnis, EAN Senior Fellow
  • Efficiency Vermont (Kelly Lucci, Dave Westman) 
  • Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission
  • Vermont Energy Contracting and Supply (Mark Stephenson)
  • Vermont Gas Systems (Ashley Wainer)
  • Vermont Natural Resources Council (Johanna Miller)
  • VPIRG (Ben Edgerly Walsh)
  • Plus Advisors from Vermont utilities, community action agencies, the VT legislature and elsewhere.


  • Video from House Committee on Energy & Technology- co-chairs testimony- February 18, 2022


  • Slides from the House testimony above
Switch & Save - Heat Pump Water Heaters for VT House

If you are interested in learning more or getting involved in this project, please contact Cara Robechek cara@eanvt.org.

Note: Network Action Team projects were selected by the Network membership through a competitive process at the EAN annual summit.  Although Network members may support specific policy actions as part of their work on these Action Teams, EAN staff serve in the role of neutral convener and refrain from advocating for specific policies.

Contact EAN

  • Jared Duval

    Jared Duval

    Executive Director
    802‑829‑7421   jduval@eanvt.org
  • Cara Robechek

    Cara Robechek

    Deputy Dir. & Network Manager
    802-552-8450   cara@eanvt.org
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