Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has long expressed his admiration for heat pump technology. In fact, he likes it so much that he incorporated it into the Tesla lineup, starting with the Model Y, then rolling it out to other models. Heat pumps are also an integral part of Musk’s “Master Plan 3,” which he recently unveiled at Tesla’s Investor Day at the company’s Gigafactory in Austin, Texas (video below).

This third part of the Master Plan essentially outlines Tesla’s mission to accelerate the worldwide transition to sustainable energy and eradicate the use of fossil fuels (Part 1 centered around electric vehicles, while Part 2 covered solar roofs and battery storage). According to Musk, “There is a clear path to a fully sustainable Earth with abundance. In fact, you could support a civilization much bigger than Earth sustainably. I'm just often shocked and surprised by how few people realize this.”

Creating a “sustainable energy civilization,” as Musk calls it, involves five steps, which include repowering the existing grid with renewables; switching to electric vehicles; electrifying high-temperature industrial chemical processes such as cement, steel, and fertilizers; and sustainably fueling planes and boats. Last but not least, the Master Plan 3 calls for switching to heat pumps in homes, businesses, and industries.

His co-presenter of the Master Plan 3, Drew Baglino, senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering at Tesla, said that right now, heat pumps meet about 10% of building heating needs, and while install rates are growing 10% year over year, it really needs to accelerate even more.

“Heat pumps can serve heat applications up to 200°C in businesses and industry and from an investment perspective, it's actually the lowest hanging fruit in terms of displacing fossil fuels…in all the homes, businesses, and industry that we can,” said Baglino. “And from an end use efficiency perspective, there's a three times reduction in the total energy required to heat these buildings [with a heat pump], so it’s a really obvious thing to do.”

Musk added, “Heat pumps are in our cars now as default, and at some point, we might make a heat pump for a home.” He did not share further details about when this equipment might become commercially available.

This is not the first time Musk has teased the possibility of creating a residential heat pump. In 2020, he said that home HVAC is a pet project that he would love to tackle.

“I just think you could really make a way better home HVAC system that's really quiet and super energy efficient, has a way better filter for particles, and works very reliably,” he said. He then pointed out that such a system had already been invented for Tesla vehicles and that it was “really pretty spectacular.”

“I mean it’s tiny, it’s efficient, and it has to last for 15 years,” said Musk. “It has to work in all kinds of conditions from the coldest winter to the hottest summer. We have actually already done a massive amount of the work necessary for a really kick-ass home HVAC.”

As for implementing the third part of the Master Plan and achieving Musk’s vision of a sustainable energy civilization, investments totaling $10 trillion would likely be required. Musk does not believe that cost is too steep in terms of the total global economy, which is approximately $100 trillion.

“There is a clear path to sustainable energy on Earth,” Musk said. “It doesn’t require destroying natural habitats. It doesn’t require us to be austere and stop using electricity and sort of be in the cold or anything.”

Further details of the Master Plan 3 will be released later this year in a white paper, said Musk.