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Project Launch: 12/01/2020
Cross Cutting

Partner: Center for Energy and Environment

This research project reviewed various use cases for residential air source heat pumps as well as a range of potential future measures related to electrification.


The project team performed an economic analysis on a variety of measures to determine where the greatest potential for cost and energy savings lies for ComEd’s customers. As part of this research, the team analyzed ComEd’s market, interviewed market actors and characterized a variety of measures according to metrics relevant to the ComEd service territory. The research supported ComEd’s ability to identify potential program barriers or opportunities for their portfolio to allow delivery of the most benefits to their customers.

Results and Outcomes

This project was undertaken to better characterize energy savings potential and consider strategies for accelerating air source heat pump (ASHP) adoption. The project team conducted in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, reviewed past rebate data, conducted modeling for key ASHP applications, and used data and insights from other jurisdictions to inform the analysis and recommendations in this report.

Key Findings

  • ComEd’s transition to a midstream program model has resulted in capturing more of the ASHP market, but also presents challenges for a complex technology.
  • New to the market is a type of ducted ASHP that can integrate with existing furnace systems (an “A-coil” model); this type of system greatly expands the applicability of ASHPs for use with existing forced air furnaces.
  • ComEd’s current energy efficiency program does not fully address some common installation issues that have been found to exist in other areas of the country.
  • There is high potential for ASHPs to displace heat currently provided by propane and electric furnaces.

Recommendations for Program Enhancements

  • Create robust customer education resources, perhaps in partnership with other utilities
  • Identify and conduct targeted marketing to single-family residential electric heat and propane customers and the state
  • Target master-metered and low-income electric baseboard multi-family through focused offerings
  • Implement quality assurance to verify installation and usage practices
  • Conduct additional contractor training and education

Recommendations for Future Research

  • Further evaluate different ASHP applications to help inform customer education and supply chain engagement strategy
  • Further investigate ASHPs for central AC replacement
  • Conduct market research on contractor barriers and what would be helpful to them to find solutions
  • Calculate energy savings due to variable-speed motors in ASHPs
  • Conduct technology investigations of new heat pump applications