Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pump Building Electrification Study 2020 - 2021

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, with funding partners E4TheFuture, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office, funded Cadmus to complete an in-depth study into residential cold climate air source heat pump (ccASHP) operation in the Northeast. The goal of this study was to inform policymakers and program administrators on customer experience with—and in-field performance of—ccASHPs designed for whole-home heating and cooling.

Carbon reduction targets in the Northeast require transformation of the built environment. Massachusetts is seeking 50% GHG reductions by 2030 and 85% by 2050, and New York is aiming for a 40% reduction by 2030 and an 85% reduction by 2050. Achieving these targets will require widespread electrification of thermal loads, improved thermal performance of building envelope, the ability to store or shift energy use using grid integration, and suppling energy loads from zero emissions resources. However, across the Northeast, most building thermal loads are served by fossil fuels (oil, gas, propane, or wood). While the use of ASHPs for heating is increasing, they are still primarily being used as supplemental heating sources. Greater adoption of whole-home heat pumps, or heat pumps serving as the primary heating source, will be necessary to decarbonize building stock.  

To address these concerns, and drive forward action on building decarbonization, Cadmus took a deep dive into the performance of ccASHP systems in over 40 homes across Massachusetts and New York that use their ccASHP systems as the primary heating source. Cadmus conducted in-field metered data collection for almost a full year (Fall 2020 through Fall 2021), assessing customer satisfaction, system utilization, heating load, and performance during a typical Northeast winter. About half of the homes that were metered maintained a back-up fossil fuel heating system, while the other half were truly whole-home heat pump systems with no back-up except integrated electric resistance in some cases.

For more information, see Cadmus’s summary of the study:

Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pump Building Electrification Study: Click Here

Supplemental Massachusetts Summary Memo: Click Here