Use of a high efficiency heat pump instead of a gas furnace for home heating can reduce primary energy use and lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emission in the main cities in the Southwest region, according to a new report from the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). The report also shows that a ductless heat pump system is very cost effective in new homes compared to using a conventional gas furnace and central air conditioner. However, given the relatively low cost of natural gas in most locations, installing a heat pump in an existing home is not cost effective for the home owner at this time without a sizable financial incentive.
“Ductless heat pumps have improved significantly in the last five years, making them a practical choice even in colder climates such as Denver’s. By eliminating the need for ducts, they help reduce the initial costs compared to more traditional heating and cooling systems. They also significantly reduce annual energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,” explains Neil Kolwey, SWEEP Industrial program director and co-author of the report.
The report also examines whether installing a heat pump water heater (HPWH) is cost effective, and whether it would reduce primary energy consumption and CO2 emissions compared to using a gas-fired water heater. The study finds that a HPWH provides large energy savings and CO2 emissions reductions, but is not yet cost effective for the home owner. However, utility or other financial incentives could help overcome this hurdle.
“Heat pumps and HPWHs have improved in energy efficiency and cold-climate performance in recent years,” said Howard Geller, SWEEP’s Executive Director and report co-author. “And given that electricity generation in the Southwest is rapidly becoming less carbon-intensive, heat pumps and HPWHs are one strategy to help cities and states achieve their climate goals.”
The new report also reviews experience in the Southwest and around the country promoting heat pumps and HPWHs, and provides recommendations to policymakers and utilities in the Southwest.
About SWEEP: The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public-interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. www.swenergy.org