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Space Heating & Cooling Research

The Emerging Technology team conducts research in space heating and cooling technologies, with a goal of realizing aggregate energy savings of 20% relative to a 2010 baseline. In addition to work involving the development of products, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), along with industry partners and researchers, develops best practices, tests, and guides designed to reduce market barriers and increase public awareness of these energy saving technologies. Research is currently focusing on:

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Photo of a home with a geothermal heat pump, showing how it can regulate the temperature of a home using the temperature underground to cool warm air or heat cold air.Geothermal heat pumps use the ground to exchange heat, allowing a building store heat for use in the winter and shed heat in the summer. Because the ground is able to maintain a fairly constant temperature, geothermal heat pumps can help building owners and operators reduce energy consumption compared to standard heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment.

DOE is investigating ground source heat pump and geothermal heat pump technology, and hopes to increase market awareness and penetration by 2030. DOE projects related to controls include:

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Heat Exchangers

Heat exchangers allow buildings and equipment to transfer heat from one space to another, and are commonly used in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration.

DOE is conducting research into integration of optimized heat exchanger designs into new products and space conditioning systems. DOE projects related to heat exchangers include:

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Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

Photo of several large vans and air ducts on the roof of a building.Today's HVAC equipment is more energy efficient than previous generations, but there is still a critical need to further reduce HVAC energy use in new and existing buildings. DOE seeks to build on a record of successful technology development by designing and demonstrating technologies that enhance performance and value.

The Department of Energy is reducing energy consumption by testing the performance of new HVAC products, developing new standards for appliances and equipment, empowering university students to compete and create more efficient technologies, and leading robust research initiatives to change the application, conversion efficiency, and overall effectiveness of commercial and residential building HVAC systems. DOE projects related to HVAC include:

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Working Fluids

Diagram of the fluid system within a geothermal heat pump.Working fluids are liquids or gases allow machines to operate, and can also absorb energy. DOE is conducting research in working fluids, with one area of focus being nanofluids. These working fluids have the potential for improving the efficiency of chillers that cool large buildings in a cost-effective manner. Additionally, research is underway in low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants, which are alternative refrigerants that can be used in new and existing residential and commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.

DOE projects related to working fluids include:

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