Ductless For Savings
By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff
A heating and cooling system
developed for Japanese homes more than 30 years ago could be an
economical and energy-saving option for consumer-members of electric
cooperatives who rely on electricity for heating and cooling.
The air-handling console of a ductless heat pump is
installed in the entry of an Idaho co-op. (Photo By: Kootenai EC)
Some electric cooperatives that buy their power from
Bonneville Power Administration have been able to offer substantial
rebates to some members who install ductless heat pumps under an
Billed as the Northwest Ductless Heat
Pump Project, BPA is working with the Northwest Energy Alliance to reduce
demand for new generation by reducing regional dependence upon electric
resistance heating systems. After early success with a pilot program
launched in 2007, the program has been gradually expanded.
"We get a reimbursement for each
of these heat pumps installed in the correct application," said Ross
Holter, energy services supervisor for Flathead Electric Cooperative,
headquartered in Kalispell, Mont. "Members who qualify for the program
receive a $1,350 rebate from us."
The rebates are available to members
who rely on baseboard, fan-forced air wall units, or ceiling cable
resistance heating systems. The existing units are left in place to
provide supplemental heat in bedrooms and other areas.
"We've already provided more
than 400 of these heat pumps," said Holter, adding that the units'
cooling capacity has also been popular with members. "We're
processing rebates and installs for these on a weekly basis."
The technology uses an outdoor
compressor. Refrigerant tubing is connected to wall-mounted air-handling
consoles located on exterior walls of a home's main living areas. Fans
inside the console circulate climatized air throughout the house.
"They use about 50 to 60 percent
less energy than electric resistance heating," said Brian Sloboda, a
Cooperative Research Network senior program manager. "They also lose
significantly less heat than a ducted system."
But stalling the technology's entry
into the U.S. market has been a lack of approved installers, Sloboda
said. "It can be a challenge to find an HVAC person that knows about
Bonneville Power Administration and
the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance plan to evaluate data from
11,000 units installed under the pilot program later this year, a BPA
Kootenai Electric Cooperative served
as one of the test locations for the Northwest Ductless Heat Pump
project. In 2008, 10 units were retrofitted into members' homes.
"We've provided 30 ductless units
over the last two years," said Don Crawford, energy services program
administrator for the Hayden, Idaho based co-op. "It's my goal to
increase that number significantly."
A unit installed in the entry of the
co-op's headquarters is generating a lot of interest, Crawford said.
"When people come in to discuss upgrading their old resistance
heating systems, I show them the ductless system and they really like the