MacAirH: Monitoring and Comparing of Air Source Heat pumps

MacAirH project is being conducted by researchers in University College Dublin (UCD) and Munster Technical University (MTU) on behalf of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to gain an insight into the performance of low energy homes in Ireland. MacAirH will also support the key objectives of the National Mitigation Strategy by working to ensure reliable performance of retrofitted ASPHs through verification of energy savings and optimization of in-use heating systems in Ireland.

As well as MTU and UCD the team is also comprised of experienced building professionals and energy managers from local government and not for profit organizations. 3CEA , Cork City Council and Dublin City Council have responsibility for managing and delivering extensive residential building retrofit portfolios in Ireland and have a successful track record in the Irish retrofit sector. UCD and 3CEA are collaborating on the nZEB101 project and will be continuing a relationship that is already well established and proving effective in overcoming the challenges of the project. MTU and Cork City Council have in the past successfully collaborated on a city-wide social housing study.

Project Background

MacAirH will monitor a robust sample size of geographically dispersed air-to-water and exhaust air heat pumps, primarily in domestic buildings pre and post retrofit. Comparison will be made with monitored traditional boiler-based systems in previously analysed new and retrofit buildings.

Building on established SEAI funded UCD and MTU monitoring projects of nZEBs and their technologies, the vision of MacAirH is to uncover key operational lessons as Ireland embarks on the unprecedented mass-market implementation of heat pumps in retrofitted buildings. This will be achieved in over 50 buildings by following a developed monitoring methodology, mining the monitored data and furthering analysis using developed and validated HP and emitter models. The project will not just investigate HPs in isolation but will also associate HP performance with the building fabric, air tightness and importantly the occupants perspective. It will look at the full life cycle of HPs, including key carbon and costing perspectives. 

Aims and Objectives 

MacAirH aim is to  monitor, compare, model and analyse the in-use performance of a large sample set of heat pumps (HP) currently in use in Irish homes in order to identify optimum operational settings and controls and develop guidance documents for best practice, system sizing and optimum control.

The project builds on an established, effective collaboration of academics with energy agencies, city and county councils. It will develop guidance documents and compliant datasets for online publication, as well as disseminating the research widely through national and international industry and scientific academic publications. In summary the project have the following aims:

  • Monitor heat pump performance in operation, across a large sample set of buildings, and
  • Compare heat pump performance with rated performance, and best practice, while accounting for impacting factors of the building including fabric and air permeability, comfort setting, occupant interaction and heat system design and sizing.   
  • Analyse holistically the performance of heat pump technologies in retrofitted buildings.
  • Identify reasons for underperformance and optimised system installation based on monitored and modelled energy, carbon and cost.
  • Report best practice and guidance for future optimum heat pump performance in the Irish context. 

Project Partners

Project Funder