decarbonization, absorption, heat pump, cold climate, emissions
Space and water heating are the largest consumers of energy in residential buildings, up to 85% in cold climates. In addition to conservation measures, improving the building thermal envelope and optimizing the heat and hot water distribution, improving the performance of the heating technology is critical to provide a pathway to significantly reduce carbon emissions, with a focus on existing buildings. Conventional fuel-fired heating systems that use existing infrastructure have approached their thermodynamic limit over the past 15-20 years. While the performance of electrically-driven heat pumps, that would use electricity produced at the margin in a fuel-switching scenario, have improved, their performance in cold climates is highly dependent on regional and seasonal characteristics of the supplied electricity and the capacity of the heat pump and the grid itself to support this peak winter demand. The Gas Absorption Heat Pump (GAHP) is a thermally driven technology that can serve as the next step in fuel-fired heating with Coefficient of Performance (COP) value of 1.4 at design conditions with sufficient capacity to meet peak heating loads. The GAHP would serve as a drop-in replacement for furnaces, boilers and other conventional technologies, significantly reduce emissions, require no updates to existing infrastructure, and provide optionality as delivered decarbonized fuels become more widely available. This study looked at several locations in North America and compared potential emission and economic savings versus several baseline technologies, including furnaces, boilers, electric heat pumps, and various water heating options. The results show that the GAHP provided the lowest operating cost and highest emissions reduction (CO2e). Based on the results, the use and pursuit of GAHPs as a pathway to decarbonization is necessary to meet climate goals.