HVAC Market Shifts to Heat Pumps

December 22, 2006
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Linn State Technical College students have been working on a new dual-fuel lab.

  In 2006, an interesting trend developed in the unitary HVAC market. Heat pump shipment increases outpaced that of central air conditioners for most of the year, and were expected to continue to do so, according to reports from the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI).
 
“Air-source heat pump shipments for June 2006 reached their second highest level for the year; only March had higher shipments,” said Dave Martz, ARI’s vice president of administration and statistics. “In fact, throughout 2006, heat pump shipments have outpaced 2004 and 2005 monthly totals.”
 

According to Martz, heat pumps experienced a resurgence in popularity for several reasons, including increased fuel costs for oil furnaces and gas products and improved minimum efficiencies of heat pumps. These two factors made the product a heating source of choice for many consumers, he said.



“Where electricity saw an average increase this year in the area of 8-10 percent, natural gas, heating oil, propane, and kerosene saw price increases in the range of 25-30 percent,” said Mark King, Rheem’s residential outdoor product manager.
 
To help offset costs, many utilities offered rebates and incentives to customers who chose to install heat pump systems. “As homeowners seek cost relief through more economical alternatives, a heat pump is the logical next step to realizing energy savings,” commented King.
 
Some regions experienced mild shortages, this year, as distributors struggled to keep heat pumps in stock. Many of the preseason heat pump orders they placed ran out by the end of March.


Another factor affecting heat pump shipments was the expansion of new construction projects into increasingly rural areas where building outpaced the ability of communities to establish a gas supply. The amount of electricity necessary to run a heat pump was more often readily available than the gas lines necessary for traditional units.
 

According to the Freedonia Group, an international industrial research company, “Heat pumps are expected to post the best gains [in the residential HVAC market] through 2009.”

“Since 2002, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of heat pump sales to total 5-ton-and-under split system sales,” said Al Knight, product manager, split-systems, Goodman Manufacturing.
 
“If this trend continues, heat pumps could account for 35 percent of all 5-ton-and-under split system sales five years from now.”

Publication date: 12/25/2006
 
 

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