Looking for Winter-Proof Heat Pumps?

While the oil bills from heating your home are still fresh in your mind.  While you still seethe from the snow and slush, I want to offer a suggestion.

Air-Source Heat Pumps.

Air-Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) warm our houses by extracting heat from the outside air and pumping it indoors. But, if you live in a climate that regularly dips below freezing temperatures, it becomes increasingly difficult to extract heat from the frigid air. Fortunately we’ve seen heat pump technology advance in recent years to the point where ASHPs offer a legitimate space heating alternative in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. When entire units are replaced, the annual ASHPs savings are around 3,000kWh (or $459) as compared to electric resistant heaters and 6,200kWh (or $948) as compared to oil systems. When displacing oil (i.e. the oil system remains, but operates less frequently), the average annual savings is near 3,000 kWh (or about $300).

NEEP’s Northeast/Mid-Atlantic ASHP Strategy Report, acknowledged that we must clearly identify which ASHP models can perform in cold climates versus those that cannot. This led NEEP and our stakeholders to develop the cold-climate Air-Source Heat Pump (ccASHP) Specification. Putting us closer to phasing out incumbent electric resistance heaters, which could provide annual energy savings of approximately $1.2 Billion and avoid over 7 million metric tons of annual carbon emissions.  Similarly, adoption of ASHPs to displace home oil heating could save $1 Billion in annual energy cost and avoid 1.1 million metric tons of annual carbon emissions.

Cold Climate Heat Pump: Simplified. Illustration of a ductless heat pump system

Efficiency programs in cold regions that incentivize ASHPs without this specification mainly rely on the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) metric. Relying solely on HSPF does not include low temperature testing point information below 17°F, a threshold our region frequently dips well beneath. The ccASHP specification goes beyond the HSPF metric, requiring manufactures to report down to 5°F. Even though many cities around the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic see temperatures well below 5°F, it’s still a notable improvement over the sole use of the HSPF metric. Remember, that’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius! Additionally, with the ccASHP specification, programs can identify the most efficient units based on a variety of parameters that include, but are not limited to, the HSPF. Regional programs can use this specification to accelerate the replacement of the incumbent and inefficient units.

The specification is expected to be used broadly by energy efficiency program administrators to identify model equipment and performance requirements. The currently listed models are intended for engineers, contractors, and other practitioners who need assurance that the equipment they select will have the required heating capacity at certain temperatures and will serve the load efficiently throughout the ambient temperature range.

The development of the ccASHP specification is well-timed given that many regional stakeholders are promoting ASHP technology and need a better way to identify products that perform efficiently in our colder northern climate.  Before the ccASHP specification, Air-Source Heat Pumps already improved living spaces, cost savings, and reductions in carbon emissions. ASHPs will continue play a major role in revolutionizing household heating across the region, so don’t wait until next winter, see how you can save with a ccASHP.

Stay informed

Stay up to date with the latest NEEP and industry news, policies, and trends to your inbox every so often.