Eneref Report



The increasing popularity of energy-efficient heat pumps as replacements for traditional air conditioners has unfortunately led to a surge in low-quality, budget-friendly models in the US market. Our research at the Eneref Institute underscores the perils posed by such low-end units, especially as global temperatures rise. These models, primarily resulting from value-engineered shortcuts in some manufacturing processes, exhibit high failure rates. As heatwaves intensify, the unreliability of these units poses a significant health risk, especially to vulnerable groups, with tragic consequences. While factors like online advertising and a consumer preference for cheaper products play a role, the crux of the issue lies in the inferior components and compromised design integrity of these budget models. Contrasted against this backdrop are high-quality, durable heat pumps that stand up to extreme conditions. As consumers, making an informed choice to invest in reliable heat pumps is crucial not just for comfort but, more importantly, for safety and environmental responsibility in our rapidly changing climate landscape.

Key Facts

  • A surge in low-quality, budget-friendly heat pumps in the US market, primarily from value-engineered shortcuts in some Asian manufacturing processes, has led to higher failure rates especially during critical heatwaves.
  • The unreliability of these budget units has resulted in significant health risks, exemplified by the tragic loss of life due to heat pump failure during a heatwave in Harris County, TX.
  • Many low-cost products advertised online as “heat pumps” do not function as true heat pumps; instead, they rely on energy-intensive resistive electric heating elements. 
  • The compromised design and use of inferior components in these budget models starkly contrast with high-quality, durable heat pumps that are designed to withstand extreme conditions.