DOE Partners with Heating Industry to Improve Performance and Energy Efficiency of Cold Climate Heat Pumps

The U.S. Department of Energy has confirmed the first six industry partners to participate in the Cold Climate Heat Pump Technology Challenge. The challenge, which was announced in May at the White House, aims to reduce the carbon footprint of cold climate heating solutions by improving the efficiency and affordability of new heat pumps in the field.

Through this partnership, DOE will build upon recent industry advancements to accelerate the market’s shift to more-efficient, clean cold-climate heat pumps for consumers and help reach the Biden Administration goal of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.

“Cold climate heat pumps are a win-win for American families to comfortably heat their homes and businesses, while significantly cutting down carbon pollution and lowering their energy costs,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE’s Cold Climate Heat Pump Challenge will mobilize the heating industry to accelerate a safer, cleaner and greener method for heating American homes and keep families and workers across the country warm during the coldest months.”

Through continued advancements, cold-climate, electric heat pumps have the potential to save an average U.S. family as much as $500 annually on their utility bills, reducing exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices. Heat pumps, which heat and cool buildings by extracting heat from the air, use electricity as their only fuel source, creating significant opportunities for onsite carbon emissions reductions compared to traditional gas heating appliances.

Six HVAC manufacturers will partner with DOE, Natural Resources Canada, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, states and other efficiency program and utility stakeholders to demonstrate the performance of prototypical products and launch field demonstrations and pilot programs to accelerate adoption. The next generation of cold climate heat pumps developed under this challenge will have:

  • Increased performance at cold temperatures
  • Increased heating capacity at lower ambient temperatures
  • More efficiency across broader range of operating conditions
  • Demand flexibility (advanced controls to adjust usage on demand)

The industry partners (thus far) are:

  • Carrier
  • Daikin
  • Johnson Controls
  • Lennox International
  • Mitsubishi Electric
  • Trane Technologies

Throughout the challenge, DOE will host regular workshops with manufacturers, as well as utility and state partners, to coordinate the lab and field-testing activities.

DOE initially launched the Cold Climate Heat Pump Challenge as part of the Initiative for Better Energy, Emissions, and Equity. The E3 Initiative advances the research, development and national deployment of clean heating and cooling systems that include heat pumps, advanced water heaters, low-to-no global warming potential refrigerants and smarter HVAC diagnostic tools in residential and commercial buildings.

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