Heat pumps are fast becoming the go-to alternative to gas boilers for domestic heating and hot water.
The reason why they are rising in popularity is down to the increasing price of gas and the current conflict with Russia and the Ukraine that is raising prices.
Heat pumps can also be used as air conditioners and are sometimes called reverse-cycle air conditioners.
Several countries are trying to cut their dependency on Russian gas supplies and shift their countries over to renewable energy sources.
No one wants to be held to ransom by another country and heat pumps offer a fantastic way of reducing your reliance on fossil fuels.
What Are Heat Pumps?
A heat pump is a device that transfers heat energy from a source of heat to a destination called a “heat sink”.
Heat pumps are designed to move thermal energy in the opposite direction of spontaneous heat transfer, by absorbing heat from a cold space and releasing it into a warmer one.
A heat pump uses an external power to accomplish the work of transferring energy from the heat source to the heat sink.
Related: Heat Pump Stats
How Do Heat Pumps Work?
As a heat pump captures heat that is already present in the environment, the system itself does not burn any fuel and therefore emits no carbon dioxide.
This is another reason why so many countries are looking to switch over to heat pump technology as it is a much more environmentally friendly way of heating your home.
A heat pump consists of two main components: a “wall cassette” that is installed inside your house, and a condenser unit that is located on the outside of your home. Refrigerant lines connect the wall cassette and condenser units of a heat pump.
The indoor wall cassette is thermostatically controlled to give heating and cooling. The heat pump activates the fan in the outdoor unit to start the removal of heat from the air outside your house when there’s a demand for heat.
This heat is carried to the indoor unit, where it is picked up by a fan within the wall cassette and circulated through your home via a ventilator inside. In cooling mode, instead, the procedure works in reverse: Heat is drawn out of your home, and cool air is reintroduced.
What do heat pumps look like?
Heat pumps look a lot like air conditioning units at first glance and in fact, they can be used for air conditioning as well.
The main difference is that heat pumps can also run in reverse in order to extract heat from the air or ground and pump it into your home.
You may also search for the bright yellow EnergyGuide label on the outdoor unit. If you notice two numbers, one for a “SEER” (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and one for an “HSPF” (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor), you have a heat pump.
The heat pump’s main installation is generally outside of your home, in a dry, well-ventilated location. This equipment is typically set up on one of the exterior walls of your home near the ground.
Different Heat Pump Systems
There are 3 Main Types of Heat Pumps:
Air Source Heat Pump
An air-source heat pump is a low-carbon, renewable energy source that may be utilized in any type of house.
They use the air to warm your home and provide hot water by extracting heat energy from it.
They generally tend to perform well in moderate climates, however, countries that have colder climates are installing heat pumps at a much faster rate.
Water Source Heat Pump
Water source heat pumps (WSHPs) take the heat from a body of water and transform it into usable energy to warm your home.
They use a system of submerged pipes to absorb the heat from a river, lake, big pond, or borehole.
This type of heat pump is nowhere near as common as air source heat pumps, however, they are more efficient and can be used all year round.
Ground Source Heat Pump
Similar to water source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps (GSHPs) transfer heat from the ground into your home.
They do this through a system of buried pipes that extract the heat from the ground and use it to provide warmth for your home and hot water.
Ground source heat pumps tend to be more expensive than air source or water source heat pumps but they are by far the most efficient type of heat pump.
Ground-source or geothermal heat pumps take advantage of thermal energy stored underground, transferring heat in a similar manner to air source heat pumps.
Due to the constant temperature of the ground, they offer much more efficient operation, however, installation is pricier and more complicated due to the need for excavation and installation of underground piping.
Air Source Heat Pumps
A heat pump that uses the air as a source of energy to heat your home and hot water is known as an air source heat pump (sometimes referred to as an air-to-water source heat pump).
What is an air source heat pump and how does it work? (Explained)
They can extract heat from temperatures as low as -15°C, making them useful all year, but they are less efficient than ground-source Heat Pumps in the winter. This is because the air temperature drops significantly at night, meaning the heat pump has to work harder to extract heat.
This type of heat pump is the most commonly fitted in the UK and Europe and is suitable for most homes.
In fact, if you have a gas central heating system at the moment, an air source heat pump will likely be the alternative option that is recommended to you.
Air source heat pump air conditioning
Did you know that as well as providing heating, air-source heat pumps can also be used for cooling in the summer?
This is because they work by moving heat around, so in the summer they can move heat from inside your home to the outside. This has the effect of cooling your home down, in a very similar way to a traditional air conditioner.
Differences between a heat pump and air conditioner
Heat pumps can heat and cool, whereas air conditioners only chill. The primary distinction between the two HVAC systems is that a heat pump can heat while an air conditioner cannot. During the cold months, an air conditioner is frequently paired with a furnace to provide warmth.
Heat Pump Efficiency
Modern condensing boilers may be more than 90% efficient, but a ground source heat pump can achieve efficiencies of 400 percent or more.
Because, unlike boilers, ground-source heat pumps produce more energy than they consume – particularly in the form of electricity – their efficiency is quite different.
When the temperature drops to between 25 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, heat pumps don’t work as effectively for most systems.
When the temperature is above 40 degrees, a heat pump works best. Once outdoor temperatures dip below 40 degrees, heat pumps begin to lose effectiveness, and they require more energy to perform their tasks.
Where Can You Buy A Heat Pump?
You have a few choices when it comes to buying a heat pump for your home. You can either purchase the unit yourself and have it fitted or you can use the services of a company that offers a complete installation service.
If you choose to buy the heat pump yourself, you’ll need to make sure that you get the right model for your home. The size of your home, the number of rooms, and the climate will all play a role in choosing the right heat pump.
You’ll also need to factor in the cost of installation. If you’re not confident in your ability to install the heat pump, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
Heat Pump Prices
The cost of a heat pump will vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of heat pump, the size of your home, and the climate.
According to The Energy Saving Trust, the price of an air source heat pump system ranges from £6000 to £8000, while a ground source heat pump system costs around £10,000 to £18,000.
Is it worth it? Consider how much money you could make off the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for an air source heat pump and how much money you can save on gas expenses.
Note: If you live in a particularly cold climate, you may need to invest in a more expensive heat pump that is designed for colder temperatures.
Are heat pumps worth it?
Yes, heat pumps are well worth the money. The fact that they reduce the cost of heating your water and home, as well as providing a source of income from the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), makes them a great investment.
You will also find that there are several grants available in your area to help with the cost of installation.
Can you get a grant for a heat pump?
Yes, there is a grant available to help you install a heat pump through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). You will need to apply to see if your home is eligible.
What are the pros and cons of heat pumps?
Advantages of Heat Pumps are:
- They’re very efficient
- They can save you money on your energy bills
- They’re environmentally friendly
- Provides Cooling
- They don’t require a lot of maintenance
- They can heat and cool your home
- They’re very quiet
- They come in a variety of designs to suit any home.
- Lower running costs
- Less maintenance
- Reduces Carbon Emissions
- Long life-span
- Eligible for the RHI scheme
Disadvantages of Heat Pumps are:
- The initial cost can be expensive
- Difficult to install
- They’re not suitable for all homes
- They require a well-insulated home
- They can be expensive to install
- They may not be suitable for cold climates
- They require a good amount of space.
- Planning permission may be required
What is the point of a heat pump?
Given the heat pumps’ low operating costs, which just move heat from one location to another rather than generating it, and given that the government helps you in your switch to a green energy solution, they are well worth it.
Can a heat pump heat a whole house?
Yes, a heat pump can heat a whole house. In fact, they are designed to heat entire homes. This is because they are extremely efficient in their ability to transfer heat.
Is heat pump heating expensive?
An air-source heat pump costs more than new gas or oil-fired central heating system. The cost of an air source heat pump ranges from £4,000 to £8,000, depending on the pump manufacturer and heat output. You’ll also have to cover the installation expenses. This might push the overall price from £5,000 to £10,000.
How does a heat pump make a house warm during winter?
Heat pumps can work in cold climates because the refrigerant absorbs heat even at sub-zero temperatures. This evaporated refrigerant is then compressed, raising the temperature even more. The gas may then give off its heat into your home’s central heating system after being compressed.