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Heat Pumps in Cold Climates

A photo of the indoor unit of a heat pump located high on a wall, just next to the ceiling

A blog post by Steven Winter Associates

Key Takeaways

  • Heat pumps are most common in mild climates but have been successful in cold climates like NYC.
  • Market studies have shown that efficiencies aren’t always as rated; in cold climates, a typical COP is 2.0, but performance is improving.

Executive Summary

An air source heat pump is an air conditioner that can operate in reverse. During the summer, it moves heat from indoors to outdoors. In the winter, it moves heat from outdoors to indoors. These systems are very popular in mild climates, but it’s possible for this system to work in cold climates with the right equipment and proper installation, operation, and maintenance. Rated capacities are published by manufacturers but more studies are needed to evaluate performance by third parties, especially in cold climates. Market studies have shown that efficiencies aren’t always as rated; in cold climates, a typical COP is 2.0, but the performance and versatility of heat pumps is improving.

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