Air source heat pumps provide the best of both worlds

How air souce heat pumps workMembers seeking to more efficiently heat and cool their home are finding a smarter solution: air source heat pumps (ASHPs).

Able to deliver hyper-efficient home heating and air conditioning, ASHPs help members realize savings in energy consumption as well as cost. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an ASHP can reduce electricity use associated with home heating and cooling by up to 72 percent. Since heating and cooling account for more than half the total energy consumed in a typical household, members can realize tremendous savings by making the switch.

While earlier generations of ASHPs were primarily used in the southern part of the United States, new ASHPs can be used in nearly all parts of the country. They are an especially viable option for Midwestern homes during the spring and autumn months when outdoor temperatures are milder.

How they work

ASHPs use the same technologies that are found in refrigerators and air conditioners, and deliver cooling and heating by moving heat to and from the outdoor air. During the summer, an ASHP works just like a central air conditioner, moving heat from inside the home and transferring it outside.

An ASHP has the ability to reverse this process for heating: the ASHP harvests heat from outside air – some systems can provide heating in temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit – and transfers it into the home. The result is that homeowners are able to run their furnaces less and get extremely efficient heating.

Both of these options can be controlled from a thermostat while the home heating function is also able to work in tandem with conventional gas furnaces.

Benefits to members

Members can realize savings of up to 30 percent on home cooling expenses by installing an ASHP instead of other conventional air conditioning units. And by moving heat, the ASHP is able to transfer a greater amount of energy than it consumes, which means an ASHP can have effective heating efficiencies of 300 percent or more.

ASHPs provide a safe, environmentally friendly solution for home comfort conditioning as well. They don’t use an open flame or create products of combustion – such as carbon monoxide and other emissions – so there is no need for venting, and their extended equipment life means less pollution associated with discarding old units or parts and manufacturing their replacements.

ASHPs also support a number of objectives for cooperatives. Their efficiency helps meet the Minnesota’s conservation improvement program goal. Their efficiency in summer and ability to displace big furnaces in the spring¬†and fall balance a home’s electricity consumption over the season – that helps keep electricity reliable and affordable. Many cooperatives even offer incentives for members to replace outdated air conditioners with ASHPs.