Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Energy Secretary Granholm Focus on Cold Climate Heat Pumps in NH

Janet Granholm. (Alyson Fligg, Labor Department)

George Harvey

Janet Granholm, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, recently made her way to New Hampshire to talk with people about new cold-climate heat pumps. Her goal was to promote a switch away from fossil fuels and to heat pumps.

Some people might not think they are familiar with heat pumps, but almost everyone with electricity has one. Refrigerators and air conditioners work because of heat pumps built into them. Just as a water pump pushes water from a lower place to a higher one, a heat pump moves heat from a cool place to a hotter one. A refrigerator’s cooling system extracts heat from the cold inside a unit and releases it into the warmer kitchen. A household heat pump does the same thing, moving heat from cold outside air into a warm house, though in hot weather, it can function to move heat from a cool house interior to the hot outside air.

Heat pumps for households have been around for a long time, but in the old days, they were not all that good at heating when the outside air got very cold. Some of them were really only good when the outside temperature was above freezing.

Now, however, new cold weather heat pumps can heat when outside air is below 0°F (about -18°C). Green Energy Times’ first notice of the new heat pump type was a notice of a Cold Climate Heat Pump Workshop, in April 2015. Since that time their use has grown, but the growth may have been too slow for Secretary Granholm.

There are a number of reasons for people to switch to heat pumps. They are often the least expensive heat for a home, and they produce no fumes or greenhouse gases. If the electricity source is renewable, they reduce our dependence on fuels of any sort. They can be driven by a household solar array with batteries. The fact that heat pumps can be powered by renewable energy and emit no greenhouse gases is also a good reason for the country to adopt them.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has been encouraging greater numbers of manufacturers to introduce their own models of cold climate heat pumps to increase their use in colder parts of the country. The DOE had said that Midea, Bosch, Daikin, and Johnson Controls had all introduced such models. Now, Carrier, Lennox International, Trane Technologies, and Rheem have joined them.

Secretary Granholm said, “People recognize that it reduces their energy bills, reduces their carbon pollution, and also it saves them a lot of money. But now, making sure we are making that technology available to colder climates, that is going to help the entire nation be able to do this.”

She also said one thing we find especially noteworthy. It is, “This is basically a $23 trillion global market for clean energy products, and the United States now has become the irresistible place to locate that production.”

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