Energy efficient heat pumps are a major asset in the battle against global warming, according to a Japanese study.
Their cooling and heating technology has a “huge and realistic potential” to resolve some of the energy and environmental issues confronting humans, according to the study published by Energy & Electricity Daily News.
Heat pumps are up to 10 times more energy efficient than combustion-based systems, says the report written by the Heat Pump & Thermal Storage Technology Center of Japan.
Heat pump technology was a major factor in Japan achieving the highest energy conservation standards in the world, the study says.
The study finds two keys to the success of heat pumps are their dramatic improvements in efficiency compared to conventional combustion engines and their “de-carbonization of energies".
Most of the world’s homes are heated by combustion systems that use thermal energy generated by burning fossil fuels.
Heat pumps work differently. They recycle heat found in the air and ground. They move thermal energy between indoors and outdoors instead of generating it from scratch by combustion.
Using a refrigeration cycle, in winter, heat pumps draw heat from the outdoors air or soil and transfer it to the interior. In summer, they pull heat from the interior and vent it outdoors to keep buildings cooler.
They generate thermal energy without burning fossil fuels or producing carbon dioxide (CO2) – although the electricity used to run them may have come from coal, gas or oil.
By dramatically reducing demands for primary consumption of fossil fuels, they can substantially reduce CO2 emissions.
Ninety percent of Japanese households have heat pump air conditioners, the report says. In Japan, heat pumps contributed to a 40 percent drop in seasonal electricity consumption for cooling and heating over 10 years.
Similar results can be expected in the U.S. as heat pumps continue to gain traction. According to Oil and Energy Online’s research, the U.S. mini-split market has seen a 221 percent growth rate over the last seven years.
When properly installed, an air-source heat pump can deliver one-and-a-half to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes, according to the United States Department of Energy. They can save electricity costs by 30 to 40 percent.
Improvements to air conditioner and heat pump standards announced by the Department of Energy in 2011 are expected to save 156 billion kilowatt hours of electricity over 30 years, or about enough to meet the total electricity needs of all the households in Indiana for three years.
The improved standards will save more than $4.2 billion for U.S. consumers.
Both the U.S. and Japan, as much of the world, are likely to enjoy energy savings and reductions in global warming if heat pump technologies continue to take hold.
Heat Pumps, Long-Awaited Way Out of the Global Warming, published by The Denki Shimbun (Energy & Electricity Daily News)
BRG Consult, North America HVAC News July 2011 (PDF Download)
Forbes.com, Tom Konrad - Are Air Source Heat Pumps a Threat to Geothermal Heat Pump Suppliers?
U.S. Department of Energy - Air Source Heat Pumps
U.S. Department of Energy - Heat Pump Systems
Oil & Energy Online - Ductless Mini-splits are Taking Off
This article and its content are sponsored by Mitsubishi Electric US Inc., Cooling & Heating Division.