In some highly populated areas, an increase in building construction, combined with conversion of oil-based heating to natural gas in existing buildings, has increased demand for natural gas. This has strained the ability of existing gas distribution networks, causing some U.S. utilities to enact (or threaten to enact) moratoriums on any expansion of natural gas service in their territory. This has forced developers to look at alternatives for heating and cooling. Electrically operated heat pumps are an attractive alternative.
All of these trends and circumstances are generally beyond what an individual, or even a sizable HVAC corporation, can control. Without some degree of adaptation to the changing energy landscape, it will be difficult or impossible to meet customer expectations, comply with codes and regulations, or work with future product offerings.
The North American hydronic heating and cooling market will be affected by these trends and circumstances. Increasing use of electrical energy will support the growth of heat pumps as hydronic heating and cooling sources. When paired with hydronic distribution systems, both water-to-water and air-to-water heat pumps offer the benefits of low operating cost, high distribution efficiency, design flexibility and unsurpassed comfort. Of these two types, the air-to-water heat pump offers several compelling advantages.