The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for residential air-source heat pumps, which is an ENERGY STAR-qualified product category. Federal laws and requirements mandate that agencies meet these efficiency requirements in all procurement and acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.
Most manufacturers display the ENERGY STAR label on complying models. For a model not displaying this label, check the manufacturer's literature to determine if it meets the efficiency requirements outlined by ENERGY STAR.
Performance Requirements for Federal Purchases
For the most up-to-date efficiency levels required by ENERGY STAR, look for the ENERGY STAR label or visit ENERGY STAR product specifications.
Buying Energy-Efficient Air-Source Heat Pumps
ENERGY STAR's product specification applies to air-source heat pumps that operate on single-phase current and have capacities less than 65,000 British thermal units per hour (Btu/h). Units with such a capacity are typically used in residential applications. Window units and other ductless systems are excluded. Specify or select products that are ENERGY STAR-qualified.
The federal supply source for residential heat pumps is the General Services Administration (GSA), which sells them through its Multiple Awards Schedules program and online shopping network, GSA Advantage! When buying directly from commercial sources, look for the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and heating season performance factor (HSPF) on the yellow EnergyGuide label required on these products. The energy efficiency ratio (EER), which is considered a better measure for determining peak load, can be found in the manufacturer's product information or website.
These requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including guide and project specifications; construction, renovation, repair, energy service, operation and maintenance contracts; lease agreements; and solicitations for offers. Energy performance requirements should be included in all evaluations of solicitation responses. Buyers shall insert the standard clause from FAR section 52.223-15 into contracts and solicitations that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products for use in federal facilities. Agencies can claim an exception to these requirements through a written finding that no ENERGY STAR-qualified or FEMP-designated product is life cycle cost effective for a specific application.
Federal buyers should require that residential heat pumps be installed in accordance with the HVAC Quality Installation (QI) Specification published by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. Installation problems like oversizing, poorly designed distribution systems, and leaky ducts result in efficiency losses, occupant discomfort, and shortened equipment life. Requiring the contractor to follow the HVAC QI Specification will ensure that these and other problems are addressed and the energy and cost savings achieved.
Residential heat pumps are frequently selected based on their cooling capacity. To make up for deficiencies with the heating capacity, electric resistance elements are typically added. Because of the inefficient nature of these heating elements, their use should be kept to a minimum. Consider using a programmable thermostat to minimize unnecessary operation of the unit. Thermostats specifically designed for heat pumps, which ramp the temperature up slowly to avoid activating the electric resistance heating elements, should be installed.
Regular maintenance (e.g., charging refrigerant, replacing filters, etc.) is necessary to maintain peak performance.
Estimating Energy and Cost Savings
ENERGY STAR has an Excel-based cost calculator for residential heat pumps. To modify the utility price, go to and click on savings calculator. Input the HSPF, SEER, capacity of residential heat pumps and the rate for electricity at your facility. The output section will automatically display results that more accurately reflect your energy use and cost.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided supporting analysis for this acquisition guidance.