More cold-climate heat pump prototypes announced, as Energy Secretary visits NH

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The U.S.’s top energy official, Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, visited New Hampshire Monday to tout clean energy investments, as federal officials announced progress made in developing heat pumps that work more effectively in cold climates.

In an interview with NHPR Monday, Granholm highlighted the work of the Cold Climate Heat Pump Technology Challenge, which was started in 2021 to accelerate the development of heat pumps that work comfortably and efficiently in cold climates.

Heat pumps, which allow people to heat their homes with electricity, help move residential energy use away from fossil fuels like propane, gas, or heating oil, which are contributing to climate change. About 35% of the country’s energy consumption goes to heating and cooling, according to the Department of Energy.

In subzero temperatures, heat pumps can operate less efficiently, in particular for older models of heat pumps. The challenge asked heat pump manufacturers to develop systems designed for a temperature of 5 degrees, with an option to also develop systems optimized for 15 degrees below zero.

Those companies join Carrier, Lennox International, Trane Technologies, and Rheem, whose prototypes have also passed lab tests. This year, prototypes are expected to be installed and monitored in cold locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“It's pretty exciting to see the uptake in heat pump technology,” Granholm said. “People recognize that it reduces their energy bills, reduces their carbon pollution, and also it saves them a lot of money. But now, making sure we are making that technology available to colder climates, that is going to help the entire nation be able to do this.”

Granholm visited with Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, as well as Rep. Annie Kuster, at Turn Cycle Solutions in Nashua, to talk about investments in energy through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“We have set forth these irresistible incentives for a clean energy economy,” she said, highlighting three companies in New Hampshire that have benefited from federal investments that are making EVs, solar panel parts, and batteries.

“This is basically a $23 trillion global market for clean energy products, and the United States now has become the irresistible place to locate that production,” she said.