Do heat pumps need a rebrand?

The #energytwitter brain trust weighs in with catchier alternatives for the double-duty appliance that can cool and warm.

An illustration showing the words Friday Social in neon surrounded by social media avatars and emojis

Supported by

  • Link copied to clipboard

Canary Media’s Friday Social column explores the intersection of energy, climate and social media. Canary thanks Silverline Communications for its support of the column.

It’s debate week at Canary Media. On Wednesday, we hosted two experts to battle it out over California’s rooftop solar future. Today, I want to highlight a different debate that’s been unfolding on #energytwitter.

Gizmodo’s Brian Kahn wrote a story last year titled Heat pumps are ready to have a moment.” It’s a good piece, but I want to focus specifically on the article’s subhead: Their name doesn’t begin to describe the wonders of what heat pump technology can do for the home and the planet.”

Subscribe to receive Canary's latest news

He reiterates that point in the article, calling heat pumps a poorly named appliance — they heat and cool buildings.”

Climate scientist David Ho made a similar point on Twitter last summer, further explaining why the name isn’t a great fit.

Kahn took his case to Twitter too.

The conversation sprang up again on #energytwitter last week, thanks to writer Michael Thomas — and this time it became a debate.

Brad Plumer of The New York Times sorta agree[s]” with the need for a rebrand.

Frédéric Simon, news editor at Euractiv, chimed in with a suggestion:

Here is a roundup of some other ideas from #energytwitter’s Mad Men and Women:

Twitter user Energy Oracle came up with a different plan. Heat pump” is fine as a name; it’s air conditioners that need a rebrand.

Christopher Clack went a step further and suggested we stop producing old-school air conditioners altogether.

On the opposing side of the great name debate, John Semmelhack, a home-performance consultant and self-proclaimed Minister of Heat Pumps,” says the devices don’t need a rebrand.

Nate The House Whisperer” Adams agreed; it’s an education problem, he says.

While I concede that the name could be better, I think that ship has sailed. I’m now on the education boat. Inspired by this tweet, I’ve made a TikTok to do my part to educate.

Silverline Communications, the supporter of this column, is a climatetech and ESG communications firm with deep experience in all facets of the clean economy. Learn more about how Silverline connects clients with stakeholders on social channels and beyond.

Mike Munsell is director of growth at Canary Media.