February 21, 2024

Collaboration with HVAC Industry Produces Final Deliverables on Efficient Heat Pump Installations

Proper design, sizing, installation, and maintenance of all HVAC systems, regardless of climate, remains critical to ensuring efficient in-field operation of equipment. As more and more program administrators seek to have Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) serve heating loads, there are a new set of unique challenges encountered by contractor sales personnel, system designers, installers, and maintenance staff. Given the very serious consequences of insufficient heating at the coldest ambient conditions, adherence to appropriate guidance by those in the trades is of increased importance for ASHP installations that have previously been applied predominantly for cooling purposes across the US and Canada. In support of the CEE℠ Residential Heating and Cooling Systems Initiative, CEE launched an Air Source Heat Pump Education and Awareness Building Strategies supplemental project in 2021 to establish consensus based market resources through collaboration with industry partners that members can deploy locally to address some of these challenges.

The first phase of this project focused on identifying the problems, taking stock of existing resources, and capturing the knowledge of industry experts. The second phase took that information and created six final deliverables that have been made publicly available to address issues CEE members and industry see in the field.

Final Deliverables

  • Duct Retrofit Decision Guide
    • Inadequate ducts can significantly reduce the performance of air source heat pumps (ASHPs). Repurposing existing ducts for heat pump use requires thoughtful sizing and duct-quality considerations. This guide informs contractors on how to determine when ducts should be fixed or abandoned.
  • System Design with Existing Heating
    • Adding a heat pump to a building with a legacy system introduces several new design and operation considerations. These challenges include different operating costs, division of capacity between the systems, interaction between the systems, and when to run each system. This document describes potential applications for heat pumps in houses with functional legacy heating systems.
  • Weatherization Guide – Homeowner Version | Contractor Version
    • Heat pumps run more efficiently in buildings that are sufficiently weatherized. Air sealing, insulation, and upgrading windows can also lower the capacity needed, thereby simplifying the heat pump distribution design requirements and lowering the cost of installing and operating a heat pump. These documents outline the benefits of weatherization before installing a heat pump.
  • You Installed a Heat Pump, What Now?
    • Heat pumps operate differently than either electric resistance or fossil fuel heating systems. Expectation setting should be as proactive as possible. Proper education around usage and maintenance can help ensure that customers are satisfied with their heat pumps. This document addresses basic information, operation, maintenance, controls settings, and frequently asked questions. It is intended to teach a new heat pump owner or potential heat pump owner all they need to know to operate their heat pump safely and efficiently.
  • Heat Pump Design Decision Matrix and System Design Guide | Web Based Widget
    • The decision-making process around heat pump installations is complex. For both customers and contractors who are less familiar with the options, there is a need to clearly describe the factors that will lead to appropriately implemented systems. Distribution methods can be difficult to choose from, and the options can be overwhelming to homeowners, especially for emergency replacements, when they have little planning time. This resource is a comprehensive workflow that simplifies heat pump installations into a series of decisions based on site conditions and customer needs. It is available both as full descriptive guide and as a web-based widget.
  • Two-System Controls Guide – Homeowner Version | Contractor Version
    • Awareness of integrated controls is a limiting factor in their adoption. Homeowners are often unaware of what integrated controls are, what situations would benefit from integrated controls, and how to operate them. Contractors are more likely to be familiar with the technology, but they are unaware of best practices and value propositions. These documents describe integrated controls, best practices, and their value proposition.

For more information on this project, please email Emma Hanson at

Thank you to our sponsors!