New natural gas heat pump is cost-efficient

A new gas-powered heat pump that was recently unveiled in January to the U.S. market at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas is putting the heating and cooling world on notice. Marketed under the brand name, NextAire, this new product represents the next generation in heating and cooling for commercial buildings and large custom homes, according to Tommis Young, chief executive officer of IntelliChoice Energy, a Las Vegas-based research and development firm specializing in natural gas technology that works in conjunction with partners Aisin/Toyota, Southwest Gas, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Built upon a proven existing technology produced in Japan by Aisin, a Toyota Group company, NextAire competes head on with traditional electric systems for both residential and commercial heating and cooling," said Young. "It fills an important energy and environmental gap that has been dominated by traditional electric systems.

"Natural gas-driven air conditioning has long been considered the Holy Grail for the industry. From a technology, performance and branding perspective, this gas heat pump is setting new standards and offers both increased energy and cost efficiencies to owners without any difference in installation cost versus traditional high-efficiency systems."

The unit contains a natural gas engine that combines with state-of-the-art electronic controls and variable refrigerant flow management systems, thereby facilitating as many as 19 independent zones. Unlike most high efficiency traditional electric units that are either on or off, the NextAire unit's control system precisely matches the engine output and energy requirements to any load condition. This significantly reduces energy electrical equipment consumption and component wear while delivering superior comfort.

In the heating mode, the NextAire unit augments its performance by capturing engine waste heat, which not only increases efficiency, but also eliminates the "cold blowing air" commonly associated with electric heat pumps.

From an environmental perspective, Next- Aire is a winner, according to Young. It uses approximately 83 percent less water based on gallons of water consumed annually to generate electricity. It also reduces noise pollution by more than 26 percent when compared to traditional electric systems.

"The performance of this unit is unmatched by any other product on the market today," said Young. "NextAire can reduce summer peak electric power demand by more than 80 percent while reducing a home's carbon footprint by up to 46 percent. The net energy savings typically ranges from 25 to 35 percent, creating considerable cost savings on utility bills for consumers."

NextAire is distributed by All Air Systems and IntelliChoice Energy.