Aug 24, 2020

Turning Up the Heat on Cold Climate Heat Pumps: A Statewide Approach

This paper was presented at the 2020 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.


A 2018 Minnesota statewide energy-efficiency potential study found that over the next decade, cold climate air-source heat pumps (ccASHPs) are the largest source of savings in the residential sector, partially offsetting the reduction in lighting savings –which reduces from 70% of the current residential sector savings, to under 5% in 2029 (Nelson, 2018). Additionally, field research funded or conducted by the authors’ organization shows that current ccASHP technology performs well and delivers 55% savingsin Minnesota’s climate and can operate as low as -20°F (Schoenbauer, 2017). But (based on market research and the author’s observations and experiences) the savings can be difficult to achieve due to lack of contractor understanding of application types, product selection, sizing and controls integration with existing heating systems.

The Center for Energy and Environment along with Minnesota Power, Great River Energy, Ottertail Power, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, and Missouri River Energy Services formed a statewide collaborativedesigned to pool resources and tackle market barriers, accelerate adoption of cold climate air source heat pumps, and influence installation quality to maximize homeowner savings, comfort, and utility benefit. This effort is launching in 2020 and is funded jointly by utilities and utility aggregators covering the entire state. By reaching across utility territories and representing mutual interests, we will efficiently and effectively remove barriers needed to grow the market. Our program includes market intervention activities including manufacturer, distributor, and installer engagementand support, technical support and strategic marketing assistance. This paper and presentation will cover the research journey thatlead to this program and early stage activities and early results of our market intervention program.