Q: When we calculate energy costs of high efficiency natural gas furnaces vs heat pumps, the furnaces always win out over HP operational costs.  On-site Solar is not factored into this however.  Not everyone has the cash on hand for adding solar nor qualify for tax credits to offset these installation costs.  Q? How to manage lower (not necessarily Low) income families with this program?

A: If the electricity costs more than about 12.5c/kWh then the natural gas will be cheaper, see the answer above. In most of New England and the West Coast electricity is much more expensive than this (it is 23c/kWh for us). In these states you will need solar and a heat pump to both save money and cut your carbon footprint.  Part of the reason electricity is so expensive in these states is because the electricity bill includes many subsidies for energy efficiency, solar panels and heat pumps. These subsidies include generous net-metering tariffs, generous solar panel and battery subsidies and low-interest-rate or zero-interest-rate loans, which are often even more subsidized for low-income owners.  The best way to cut bills and carbon footprints in low-income communities is to use these subsidized loan programs. If the homeowner does not have a credit score high enough to get a loan, then a leasing arrangement for the panels is always possible. These leases can be very expensive for the homeowner but in the last year or so I have seen lease rates come down, making them at least reasonable options if the homeowner can’t get a loan. In a band of states in the middle of the country from the Dakotas to Louisiana electricity is about 10c/kWh and so there is little money to be saved with solar panels. For homeowners in these states, it will be cheaper to heat with a heat pump than to heat by burning natural gas. It will also be very cheap to run an electric vehicle.