ASHP Resources

Efficiently Heat and Cool with Air Source Heat Pumps

How It Works

 

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) use electricity to heat and cool.

  • ASHPs work like air conditioners to cool, and work in reverse to move warmth from outside air into your home to heat.

  • ASHPs heat homes up to three times more efficiently than forced air and electric resistance heating systems.

 

Two Setups: Ductless or Central

 

Ductless ASHPs don’t require ductwork in your home.

  • There is one outdoor condenser connected to one or more indoor air distribution units.
  • Indoor units are typically mounted on the wall, floor or ceiling.
  • The individually-controlled indoor units allow for zoned heating and cooling and maximize energy savings and comfort.

Making the decision

  • Installed cost: $2,500 - $8,500
  • Good fit when:
    • Already heating with radiators, in-floor, or electric baseboard
    • Getting rid of window A/C units or adding home cooling
 

What makes up a ductless ASHP system?

 

Central ASHPs use existing ductwork to distribute heated and cooled air throughout your home.

  • The outdoor condenser is connected to the indoor furnace’s fan.
  • Unlike central A/C units, central ASHPs provide both heating and cooling in a single system.

Making the decision

  • Installed cost: $4,000 - $8,000
  • Good fit when:
    • Already heating with forced air (with ductwork in place)
    • Replacing central A/C or adding it for the first time
 

What makes up a central ASHP system?

What level of performance do you need?

heatingHeating with ASHPs:

  • If you want an ASHP to be your primary heating system, you’ll need a cold climate ASHP (ccASHP) and a back-up heating system.
  • While ccASHPs are more expensive upfront than ASHPs, there is a potential for heating fuel cost savings if you already heat with electricity or propane.
  • ASHP’s heating performance is noted with its HSPF (heating season performance factor).
  • Did you know? It takes far less energy to move heat than it does to create heat, and you can even extract heat from really cold air!

coolingCooling with ASHPs:

  • ASHPs and ccASHPs offer the same cooling benefit as an air conditioner (A/C).
  • ASHP’s cooling performance is noted with its SEER seasonal energy efficiency ratio), same as you would see for A/C units.
  • Look for SEER 15 or higher for improved energy efficiency.

 

STANDARD PERFORMANCE
Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP)
PREMIUM PERFORMANCE
Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pump (ccASHP)
Meets cooling and some heating needs Meets cooling and most heating needs
Highly efficient down to 32 °F Highly efficient down to 5 °F
Look for HSPF 8.5 or higher Look for HSPF 9 for Central or HSPF 10 for Ductless

A glance at savings from air source heat pumps

Recent research from Center for Energy and Environment shows Minnesota households can expect the kinds of energy and cost savings below.

Existing Heating System Energy Savings with ASHP Cost Savings with ASHP
Propane furnace 40% 30%
Electric resistance 55% 55%

What if you heat with a natural gas furnace? You can expect energy savings, but likely not cost savings. The current low cost of natural gas keeps heating homes in Minnesota with an efficient natural gas furnace an affordable option. A household might consider an air source heat pump in a home heated by natural gas for other reasons, like becoming a net-zero or all-electric home, or wanting to add or upgrade air conditioning.

Next Steps

 
  1. Determine which setup is right for you: Use the info on this sheet and a comparison table on our website to see whether a ductless or central ASHP will work best with your existing heating system.

  2. Check with your electric utility: Learn what equipment they rebate (see map below) and whether they require using one of their participating or qualified contractors.

  3. Find a few certified contractors: If your utility has no requirements, find NATE-Certified technicians.

  4. Ask contractors the right questions:

    • Does the company have a state license for HVAC?
    • Are they insured?
    • How long have they been in business?
    • Can they send a NATE-Certified or other technician with education credits or experience on ASHPs to my home?
    • Tell the contractor your needs (cooling, heating, both). If heating through winter, ask for a “cold climate ASHP.”

 

Download the Guide

Consumer Guide to Air Source Heat Pumps
Guide to Air Source Heat Pumps
Minnesota Power ASHP Guide
Guide to Air Source Heat Pumps
Otter Tail Power ASHP Guide
Guide to Air Source Heat Pumps
Todd Wadena ASHP Guide

Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) are now a proven energy-saving technology for heating, tested through years of practical application and multiple studies. They're a win-win for you and your customers!

The Market Opportunity

 
  1. Widespread adoption: A recent statewide study shows ASHPs as one of the primary ways Minnesota will reach its energy efficiency goals by 2029.
  2. Large market in Minnesota: ASHPs are a good fit for the 585,000 households heated with electricity and propane.
  3. Significant utility rebates: Most electric utilities offer rebates for ducted and ductless ASHPs—from $250-$2,000+.
  4. Quality installation: Trained and certified contractors will be best positioned to take advantage of this growing market.
 

Get Training

 

Technical Training & Certification:

Some electric utilities and manufacturers may offer their own training. Some utilities require that you become a qualified contractor to be eligible for rebates.

 

There’s no question whether customers are going to reap the benefits—these units have proven their efficiency over electric baseboard and propane.

MITCH MINARDI, BRENT’S HEATING AND COOLING IN DULUTH, MN

Consumer Benefits &
Satisfaction

 

Provide customers with a proven energy-saving technology:

  • ASHPs offer cost-effective heating for customers heating with electricity or propane.
  • Heat homes up to three times more efficiently than forced air and electric resistance heating systems.
  • Works for homes with and without ductwork.
  • Set it and forget it. ASHPs operate most efficiently without thermostat setbacks.
  • Great option when adding or upgrading air conditioning.
 

Heat with Cold Climate

 

When a customer wants to use an ASHP as their primary heating system, install a cold-climate ASHP and ensure back-up heating is operational.

What makes it a ccASHP?

  • Variable capacity (inverter) compressor
  • Coefficient of performance (COP) at 5°F ≥ 1.75 at maximum capacity
  • Heating season performance factor (HSPF) ≥ 9 (ductless) or ≥ 10 (ducted)
  • Sized to meet 100% of the home’s heating load at outdoor temperatures ≤ 10°F

Source: Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and Center for Energy and Environment

 

A glance at savings from air source heat pumps

Recent research from Center for Energy and Environment shows Minnesota households can expect the kinds of energy and cost savings below.

Existing Heating System Energy Savings with ASHP Cost Savings with ASHP
Propane furnace 40% 30%
Electric resistance 55% 55%

What if you heat with a natural gas furnace? You can expect energy savings, but likely not cost savings. The current low cost of natural gas keeps heating homes in Minnesota with an efficient natural gas furnace an affordable option. A household might consider an air source heat pump in a home heated by natural gas for other reasons, like becoming a net-zero or all-electric home, or wanting to add or upgrade air conditioning.

Installation Tips

 
  1. The outdoor unit should be mounted above ground on a stand to prevent seasonal damage from ice and snow build-up.
  2. The refrigeration lines leading from the outdoor unit should be insulated with foam and covered with a plastic casing to prevent damage.
  3. The entry point for refrigeration lines into the home should be fully sealed to prevent entry of moisture, pests, and cold air.
  4. There should be adequate clearance around the outdoor unit to allow sufficient air flow.
 

Download the Guide

Contractor Intro to Air Source Heat Pumps