Onset Computer Corp. has received a large order from Ecotope, a Seattle, Washington-based energy consulting firm, for its Web-based HOBO U30 Remote Monitoring Systems.

The systems, which will be used as part of an energy efficiency pilot program sponsored by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and other organizations, will measure the energy performance of ductless “mini-split” heat pumps in 120 homes throughout the Pacific Northwest. The goal of the project is to better understand the energy-savings potential of ductless heaters.

“There’s a big focus on getting ductless mini-split units in homes throughout our region and displacing electric resistance heat that’s still being used,” said Bob Davis, a research engineer with Ecotope. “We will be monitoring the ductless units for one year to understand how much of a home’s electric heat can be offset by ductless heat pumps.”

According to the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, nearly one million homes in the Northwest still rely on electric resistance heating as a primary heat source. With consumer electricity bills on the rise, the use of ductless heaters, which are rated to use 50% - 60% less energy than electric heaters, has become an attractive option for many in the region.

Each HOBO U30 monitoring system will measure and record whole house power, the amount of energy used for hot water heating, indoor and outdoor air temperatures, and the power consumption of both the electric resistance heater and ductless heat pump in each house. The data will be continuously transmitted from the monitoring devices to the Internet where project engineers can access it on a 24/7 basis. The monitoring period will last for one year.

“If the results look promising, there could be some utility-based conversation measures and incentives for homeowners to install ductless systems,” said Davis.