Technology Assessments

Technology Assessments – Heating and Air-Conditioning Technologies


Developing new ideas and bringing them successfully to market is key to a firm’s survival and prosperity. Inherent to the success of these ventures is a realistic and accurate understanding of how the product compares, both economically and technologically, with competing systems. DeLima Associates has worked with both large and small R&D organizations, assisting them in the development and evaluation of their emerging technologies. Whether that means full-scale market testing or developing a computer simulation to predict performance, DeLima Associates has assisted its clients in the technical appraisal of products.


DeLima Associates conducted extensive competitive cost and performance analyses of residential heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning technologies being developed by a natural gas industry research organization. The absorption and internal-combustion engine gas heat pumps were compared to the electric heat pump and furnace/air conditioner using a seasonal performance program to calculate energy usage by each system; an economic analysis program was used to calculate operating costs. The systems were modeled in 20 cities using technical specifications obtained from independent R&D labs and equipment manufacturers. Building loads were obtained from hourly output of a building load simulation computer program, and installation costs were gathered for competing equipment from dealers in each city. The allowable installed cost for each piece of equipment was determined as well as the payback period. We then expanded this model to determine the impact of loads, parasitics, and utility rates on the competitiveness of the gas heat pump against the electric heat pumps and furnace/air conditioners by conducting sensitivity analyses. DeLima Associates conducted extensive research to determine the optimum levels of fan and gas burner modulation that would provide the lowest heating operating costs.This effort resulted in identifying cost and performance goals for these new products.

In another project, DeLima Associates assisted the client in the development of residential modulating gas furnaces to address the residential zoned heating market. We considered several control strategies, and the methodology consisted of heat exchanger analysis, fan modeling, estimation of fuel consumption, and computation of hourly operating costs. Three computer models were developed to function as evaluation tools: these tools have since been used by the client to design heat exchangers for conventional and advanced condensing furnaces.

DeLima Associates’ staff has also performed an analysis of zoned heating systems. We Identified the currently available zoned systems, as well as those in the developmental stages. The various systems were qualitatively discussed and the relative merits of eachpresented. The systems on the verge of market Introduction were then evaluated for technical and economic performance. DeLima Associates modified a seasonal performance program to handle multiple zones and distinct time periods. The model calculated the system performance by considering the efficiency of the system, the building load and the hourly weather data. An economic analysis program developed by DeLima Associates calculated the potential for operating cost savings and the payback period for each system.