Tags

Many people in SE Alaska are familiar with air source heat pumps which take advantage of the low electrical costs that come through local utilities through hydro power.  Similar to a reverse refrigeration unit, the electrical appliance pulls heat from outside air into the building (with the help of condensers, pumps and a fluid that easily vaporizes and then comes back to liquid form).  There are some units that were installed in Juneau back in the 60’s- half a century ago- which are yet running!

The two factors that have dictated whether a unit will be feasible are 1)cost of local electricity and 2)the coefficient of performance, which effected greatly by the temperature of the outside air.  Generally pumps have not been used as the primary source for a home when temperatures are below 20 degrees.  Yet there have been improvements on technology and increases in other staple fuels the last decade which have driven ‘cold weather’ residents to try the pumps (mainly heating oil in Alaska and propane in the Midwest states).  The Cold Climate Housing Research Center has been testing units and may have solutions for locations as cool as -20 degrees, which could serve the Interior and Northwest portion of the state- at least as supplementary heat with a oil stove coming on when the temperatures drop below.

One  manufacturer has started developing a heat pump funded by a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy which would possibly  be able to achieve 100 percent of the its rated capacity below -10 degrees F.  Of course, the mitigating factor when looking at these now units will still be the cost of local electricity (often produced locally from flow/barged in fuel oil). Would this technology be a option for you?

 

Advertisements