ASHP Guide

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.


Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP)
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


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: See what equipment they rebate 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
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Minnesota Power ASHP Guide