Heat pumps have been on a run for a while now. Utilities are ramping up demand side management programs to entice consumers to purchase high efficiency products as it helps the utility save money in the long run - why else would they be giving money away? As there are so many utilities that sell electricity, it makes sense that a goodly part of the incentive effort is focused on heat pumps.
Now for the coup de grâce (a French term; the definition known only to a few hundred people who attended a Cincinnati Habegger Corp. dealer meeting): Geothermal heat pumps may be carrying a big part of that success. According to sources at the major geothermal manufacturers, sales are pretty good, even during the current economic malaise. (Malaise. I think that’s French too, it means stinking recession.)
The message here is that consumers are still spending big bucks for what they perceive to be high value. If they can spend a little more up front - even in a recession - get more on the back end in the way of lower utility bills, and a sense that they are helping the environment, then voila! (Another fancy foreign word that means “Get me another helping of those biscuits, and pass the gravy.”)