Homeowners could see their electric bills reduced considerably with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's integrated heat pump.
The unit, which combines water heating with heating and cooling, dehumidification and ventilation functions, can use 50 percent less energy than standard heat pumps and water heaters.
The unit's energy savings come primarily from hot water provided at heat pump efficiencies, said Richard Murphy, a researcher in ORNL's Building Technologies Program. The unit also benefits from the use of variable speed components that have operating rates that can be adjusted to meet current loads efficiently.
A number of other factors, including the availability of mass-produced products such as brushless permanent magnet motors for compressors and fans, are seen as keys to the success of this effort. The goal of the project, funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is to attract a commercial manufacturer by 2008.
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