National Energy Policy Institute

Residential Retrofit Ground Source Heat Pump Benefits Assessment

Publication Date: September 15, 2010

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Residential Retrofit Ground Source Heat Pump Benefits Assessment: Xiaobing Liu (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

Geothermal heat pumps (GHP) are a relatively new technology for space conditioning and water heating, but have been proven capable of significantly reducing energy use and summer peak electrical demand in buildings. At the same time, less than 1 percent of homes have GHPs, and industry experts have determined that barriers to the wider application of GHPs include high first costs to consumers, lack of knowledge and/or trust in GHP system benefits, limited design and installation infrastructures for GHP systems, and lack of new technologies and techniques. This report assesses the energy savings, CO2 emissions reductions, reduction in peak electrical demand, and utility cost reductions, from retrofitting all U.S. single-family homes that have space heating, space cooling, and water heating equipment with state-of-the-art GHP systems. The analysis shows that such retrofits could save 44 percent of existing primary energy consumption for space heating, space cooling, and water heating in U.S. single-family homes; reduce CO2 emissions from space heating, space cooling, and water heating from these homes by 44 percent; save consumers $56.2 billion in utility costs; and reduce summer peak electrical demand by 182 GW. This report feeds into an analysis of two policies—a subsidized loan and a direct subsidy—designed to spur additional installation of GHPs at a more realistic penetration rate.

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