Announcing Heat Pump Research Designed to Help Contractors and Utilities Maximize Energy Savings

Jun 18, 2020

The NW Ductless Heat Pump Project is in the second year of research affectionately named Maximizing Mini-Splits. The goal of this research is to identify advanced ductless heat pump installation methods that result in maximum energy savings.

According to Christopher Dymond, NEEA’s Senior Product Manager, "Ductless heat pumps remain an important tool in the electric utilities toolbox for saving energy. However, since the NW Ductless Heat Pump Project began in 2009, we noticed that ductless heat pumps are increasingly producing less energy savings [than expected]. We need to reverse this trend, and we think that contractors and utilities can work together to create a solution."

The research project aims to fill in the gaps for contractors and utilities. Dymond said, "There are a lot of ideas on how best to install a ductless heat pump, but if you ask five different contractors, you get five different answers. So, we are looking to scientifically supported information on the advanced installation practices that contractors and utilities can use so that ductless heat pumps save as much energy as possible."

Research has shown that most ductless heat pump installations could save customers more energy. The challenge is finding which methods are low cost and contractor friendly that utilities can easily support. Likely candidates include:

  • Specific recommendations for indoor unit placement within a room or space
  • Optimal coordination between the ductless heat pump and secondary heating or cooling source
  • Effective use of third-party controls and thermostats

A team of researchers at Pacific NW National Laboratories initiated the Maximizing Mini-Splits research in 2019 with lab tests on model homes. In 2020, the research continues with a team of regional experts who are surveying published research for additional installation recommendations. The NW Ductless Heat Pump Project team expects to publish a final report of findings in late 2020. The findings will be available on