The system reduces emissions by up to 90 per cent and cuts electricity costs by one-third
Spotted: While electric vehicles are grabbing headlines in the push to decarbonise transport, the built environment also needs to be overhauled, and buildings are so varied that retrofitting homes and offices often requires more of a bespoke approach. All decarbonisation efforts can be helpful, but the scale of the problem requires vastly more to be done. In the US, for example, a coalition of state governors recently announced plans to quadruple heat pump installations by 2030 with a goal of installing at least 20 million more than are currently in use. California-based Harvest Thermal has created a smart, all-electric thermal battery system that could contribute to this goal.
Air-source heat pumps pull warm air into a building to heat water in a storage tank. With the Harvest Thermal system, a ‘Harvest Pod’ tracks the price of electricity and ensures that the water in the thermal storage tank is fully heated when electricity costs are lowest (and least polluting), which is generally in the middle of the day. Using the heat pump at the warmest time of day ensures the highest levels of efficiency in the running of the device.
The Harvest Thermal system replaces traditional gas furnaces and hot water heaters and, in doing so, reduces a building’s carbon emissions by up to 90 per cent. The smart system integrates with the piping of existing HVAC systems, and the Pod connects wirelessly to the cloud to provide its analysis of prices and tracking of heating and water use. The air handler part of the system moves air through the building to heat or cool a space. In warm climates, it can be set to pull in cooler night air for the feel of air conditioning without the cost.
Harvest Thermal is currently serving California and the Pacific Northwest but also has a waiting list for future locations. The company recently closed a funding round that brought its financing support up to $11 million (around €10.3 million). The investment has been earmarked for market expansion and additional product development.
With heat pumps often getting a bad rap for their high cost, a UK company is working to make them an affordable technology for all homes. And in the USA, another company created a way to reduce cooling costs by increasing the efficiency of existing systems.
Written By: Lisa Magloff