Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP)

Find a Participating Contractor | ASHP Rebates

What is an Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP)?

ASHPs are an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners, even in colder climates and for those with moderate cooling needs. They're an attractive option because they are capable of providing efficient cooling and heating. The technology has evolved recently enabling this equipment to perform in cold climates like Minnesota. Specific models classified as Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pumps (ccASHP) can provide effective heating with temperatures as low as -13°F.

When properly installed, an ASHP can deliver one and a half to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes (Source: U.S. Department of Energy). As a result, some of these systems can provide heat at a higher efficiency and lower cost than electric resistance heating, oil, or propane heating systems—and in some cases, for a lower cost than gas heating as well.

These systems can be installed as a ducted system (furnace-integrated forced air) using a ductwork for distribution or as a ductless system (mini-split) providing zoned comfort.

Minnesota Power offers ASHP and ccASHP rebates on both electrically heated and non-electrically heated homes. Click here to find out more about these rebates. In order to receive a Minnesota Power rebate, you must use a participating contractor. Click here for a directory of Minnesota Power's participating contractors.

How Does It Work?

ASHPs use electricity to transfer energy between indoor and outdoor air. Because they move heat rather than generate heat, these systems typically consume less electricity than electric-resistance heating systems. In cooling mode, heat pumps function like an air conditioner, moving heat from inside to outside the home. In heating mode, the refrigerant flow is reversed to extract low-temperature heat from outdoors and deliver concentrated high-temperature heat to the home.

How ASHP Works

Standard ASHP systems typically work well to temperatures as low as 30°F. Below that, a backup or supplemental heating source is required. The backup system can be electric, fossil fuel, or a combination and is typically used from mid-December to mid-February. Cold Climate models can potentially perform as a primary source of heating year round.

The benefits of ASHPs include:

  • Increasing the efficiency of your existing heating and cooling system and extending its life.
  • Providing energy-efficient air conditioning in the summer and heating in late fall and early spring. Cold Climate models can provide efficient heating down to -13°F.
  • Delivering 1.5–3 times more heating energy to a home than the electric energy it consumes (Source: U.S. Department of Energy)—that is a good return on your investment. This is possible because heat pumps move heat instead of converting fuel to heat.

HVAC Quick Glossary

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): An energy efficiency rating for residential air conditioners. The higher the SEER, the better the energy performance and the lower the energy costs. The U.S. Department of Energy’s established minimum SEER rating for cooling is 10.

EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio): A measure of the efficiency of cooling equipment at peak performance when the outdoor temperature is at a specific level (usually 95°F). A higher EER means greater energy efficiency.

HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor): Measures the efficiency of residential heating equipment throughout an entire heating season. Typically considered the heating equivalent of SEER. A higher HSPF means higher efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy’s minimum HSPF rating is 6.8.

COP (Coefficient of Performance): Measures the efficiency of heating equipment at 17°F and 47°F. A higher COP means higher efficiency. This rating does not reflect how much energy is being used by backup heating sources. The Northeastern Energy Efficiency Partnership’s (NEEP) minimum COP is 1.75 at 5°F for Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pumps.

For More Information

  • Rebates & Savings
    Minnesota Power offers rebates on qualifying air source and ground source heat pumps.
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR® program provides information on energy-efficient products that meet ENERGY STAR® standards.
  • Program Requirements
    For links to qualifying systems, contractors and rebate options.

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