A product that has been available in the UK and Europe for several years is finally being introduced to the US market. The Daikin Altherma is an air-to-water heat pump that combines the ability to heat space, hot water and cool space with lo-temp hydronics.  Operating at efficiencies of 2 to 4 COP (Coefficient of Performance), it is more efficient than fossil fuels, standard air-cooled heat pumps and electric only options. However, the maximum heating capacity is 54,000 BTUs, so larger projects may need multiple units. The system is currently for low-temp heat only, like floor radiant, with discharge water temperatures at 132 degrees F maximum. However, next year, Daikin is planning on releasing a multiple cascading compressor high-temp version that will allow discharge temperatures to 176 degrees F. This could ostensibly replace a fossil fuel boiler that is currently being used with existing radiators or baseboard radiation. This would be a home run here on Long Island, where a majority of homes still use fuel oil fired hydronic heating systems. It is certainly an option for those who want to get away from fossil fuel combustion heat but cannot afford the installed cost of a geothermal system (even with the current incentives). The installed cost would be roughly the cost of a geothermal system less the cost of drilling, excavating and installing a ground loop. Unfortunately, ARI does not currently have a facility to rate this type of system, so it will not qualify for utility rebates and government incentives. Air Ideal will make this a new product offering for installation during the 2010 heating season. For specific information, follow this link to Daikin’s Altherma product site.
The video shown here is in english, but was produced for the European market and uses metric terms (such as calories instead of BTUs and Celsius temps[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1GpvYpv8Cw]).