Utilizing smart controls and thermal storage with its new CO2 (R744) heat pump can save homeowners up to 45% on their space and water heating bills, says Californian startup technology firm Harvest Thermal.

The system uses its heat pump when electricity is cheaper and greener and then stores the heat it produces in a thermal battery until it is needed. The company says this can reduce carbon emissions from heating and hot water production by 90% compared to a traditional gas system and 50% compared to a standard heat pump.

“As more homes electrify their heating and hot water, Harvest Thermal’s system functions as a virtual power plant, relieving stress on the grid during winter morning and evening peaks,” said the company.

The Harvest Thermal system employs the air-to-water SANCO2 heat pump from manufacturer ECO2 Systems and a water tank, which acts as a thermal battery as well as providing domestic hot water. It also includes an air-handing unit (AHU) for space heating and a Harvest Pod, which controls the whole system.

“Using machine-learning-generated algorithms, sensors and controls, the Pod optimizes for grid emissions, utility rates, energy usage and customer comfort,” explains Harvest Thermal. “It transforms an ordinary water tank into a thermal battery that delivers heating and hot water whenever needed.”

The system can also provide space cooling by either pulling cooler air from outside at night or using the CO2 heat pump for air-conditioning.

Founded in 2019, Harvest Thermal has received funding and support from a range of organizations, including the National Science Foundation and California Energy Commission. The company was also recently named one of the world’s most innovative companies by Fast Company.

Decarbonizing U.S. buildings

In November 2022, Harvest Thermal announced it would be partnering with BlocPower, a New York-based technology company working to make building decarbonization more accessible and affordable.

Through their partnership, the companies say they aim to “democratize decarbonization for all homeowners, regardless of income.” They plan to collaborate on 50 projects this year before working towards a target of more than 1,000 in 2024 and beyond.

“We are delighted to partner with Harvest Thermal on our joint mission to decarbonize homes at the lowest cost,” said Roopak Kandasamy, General Manager–West for BlocPower. “Harvest’s groundbreaking technology provides the cleanest space heating and hot water solution in the market. With our scale and $0 down financing solution, we make clean energy accessible for all customers.”

For Harvest Thermal, the partnership with BlocPower presents it with an opportunity to scale its business in California, which it says is a key market.

“One of our maxims at Harvest Thermal is that lowest-carbon energy must be affordable to everyday people,” said Dr. Jane Melia, CEO and Co-Founder of Harvest Thermal. “Given BlocPower’s expertise, reach and innovative financial models, BlocPower is the perfect partner for us. The partnership has incredible synergy with the potential to accelerate building decarbonization and meet the U.S. commitment to fighting climate change.”

BlocPower, which was founded in 2014, is backed by some of the world’s top investors, including Goldman Sachs and Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund. In 2022, Fast Company named BlocPower the world’s fourth most innovative company.