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There are no quick fixes to long-term energy challenges. To find solutions, governments and industry benefit from sharing resources and accelerating results. For this reason the IEA enables independent groups of experts - the Energy Technology Initiatives, or ETIs1.

Heat Pumping Technologies

Heat pumps are an efficient way to cover all building energy needs, including dehumidification.*

Multifunctional heating and cooling 

Policy context
By using the heat in the air, earth and water, heat pumps have the potential to significantly reduce consumption of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions. Recent policies enacted in Europe, Japan, and the United States aim to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through accelerated deployment of clean technologies including heat pumps. These strategies will play an important role in reducing barriers to deployment. 

The aims of the ETI focusing on heat pumps (HPT) are to quantify and publicise the energy saving potential and environmental benefits (local and global) of heat pumping technologies; develop and deliver information to support deployment of appropriate HP technologies; promote and foster international collaboration to develop knowledge, systems and practices in HP technologies through further research, development, demonstration and deployment; provide an effective flow of information among stakeholders and other relevant entities; and significantly improve the visibility and status of the Programme. There are currently 14 Contracting Parties.

Low-energy houses are now integrated into current building practice and represent a growing share of new home designs. Integrating multifunctional heat pump concepts into low-energy house designs is an efficient way to treat several building functions simultaneously. Despite having been introduced to the market, the market share for heat pumps remains low. As a result, data from operational experiences are rare.

One recent HPT project, Economical Heating and Cooling Systems for Low-Energy Houses, brought to light new information on the cost-efficiency of heat pump concepts in low-energy houses.

Seven multifunctional heat pump prototypes were developed, lab tested, and field proven in countries participating in the study1. Best practices in systems design were identified, leading to industry recommendations. 

Some of the heat pump concepts developed within the project proved to be so efficient that they are now commercially available in North America. More of the developed prototypes are currently being field-tested. The results of this study are summarised in best-practice sheets, systems concept sheets, and a final report (executive summary, market overview, systems developed, and field monitoring). 

1. Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. 

* Schema courtesy of Istockphoto.


Current projects

  • Application of industrial heat pumps
  • Cold climate heat pumps (improving low ambient temperature performance of air-source heat pumps)
  • Common methods for testing and rating residential heat pumps and air conditioning for annual or seasonal performance
  • Field measurements on heat pump systems in buildings - good examples with modern technologies 
  • Heat pump concepts for near-zero energy buildings
  • Quality installation and maintenance 
  • Systems using solar thermal energy in combination with heat pumps
  • Thermally driven heat pumps for heating and cooling

For more information: 


1.Information or material of the IEA Energy Technology Initiatives, or ETIs (formally organised under the auspices of an Implementing Agreement), including information or material published on this website, does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of the IEA’s individual Member countries. The IEA does not make any representation or warranty (express or implied) in respect of such information (including as to its completeness, accuracy or non-infringement) and shall not be held liable for any use of, or reliance on, such information.