Why install a heat pump?

Why install a heat pump?

The climate in the United Kingdom makes it difficult to heat homes in the winter and keep them cool in the summer. The increase in energy prices this year has made it even more challenging for people to keep within their budgets. However, technological solutions in heat pumps can meet these new challenges. A heat pump is a cheap, eco-friendly, and effective way to reduce bills while keeping a maintenance-free, reliable system to supply your home with hot water, heating, and cooling. The source of heat comes from air, ground or ground water and electricity is also needed. Heat pumps can be used in both new and existing buildings. Almost three-quarters of the energy is obtained in a climate-neutral way and the remaining quarter comes from an electrical socket.

Here are the main 5 advantages of installing a heat pump:

  • It saves time and money.
  • It provides maintenance-free heating of your house and provides hot water.
  • It is simple and non-invasive.
  • It can be controlled remotely and has automatic operating modes.
  • It is a good solution for new and existing buildings.

How does a heat pump work and what can it be used for, apart from heating?

The working medium circulating in the system, for example difluoromethane marked as R32 or propane marked as R290, has a low boiling point, evaporates, and then forms gas that is sucked by the compressor and that increases its pressure and temperature. After that, the high temperature working medium goes to the condenser which allows the obtained heat to be transferred to the water used to drive the heating system of the building. When the cycle is completed, the parameters of the working medium return to their initial state. The heat pump is not only great for heating in the winter, but also cooling in the summer and some models allow the production of hot water.

Types of heat pumps

Air-based heat pumps are by far the most popular and easiest-to-use solution as they are highly efficient and reliable. There are also air heat pumps available on the market, and they transfer heat from the outside into air for the inside of the building. In the UK, there are nearly 300,000 heat pumps of this type being sold. These are air conditioners with a heat pump function, and the cost of heating the building with these devices and air/water heat pumps is around twice lower than when using gas boilers.

Another type of heat pump is a ground-source heat pump that consumes energy from the ground and requires an appropriate heat  exchanger. The household owner can rely on high performance of this heat pump throughout the year, regardless of the weather. A similar efficiency can be ensured with water heat pumps, but it is necessary to have a well or a body of water e.g. a pond in the garden or on the plot.

What differentiates a heat pump from other renewable energy solutions?

It is one of the few ecological solutions on the market that is suitable for both heating a building and producing hot water, as opposed to solar panels that only allow us to heat domestic water used for showering, washing the dishes etc. and they are mostly used in the summer, so they can only be an alternative to a central heating boiler. Home wind farms produce electricity, but a heat pump can operate all year round, depending on the type, with almost the same efficiency and can perform more than one function in the household. However, unlike other renewable energy sources, heat pumps need an additional power source to operate but with favourable conditions, they can use around 75% of energy from the natural environment and the remaining 25% is electricity supplied from the utility grid or other sources.

What is the cost of purchasing and installing a heat pump?

Installing a heat pump may cost from £9,000 to £15,000 including assembly, and the entire investment cost may vary depending on the type of device, installation, and other costs. A ground heat pump can be more expensive than an air heat pump, costing between £15,000 – £20,000 although its productivity remains at a constant level throughout the year. The cost of the investment depends on the size of the heated building, the size of the plot and type of heat pump to be installed.

Maintenance and what to look out for

The heat pumps do not require much intervention or maintenance, as a heating system based on a heat pump is cheap and reliable compared to central heating boilers. As the owner, you do not have to worry about the fuel or removing pollutants e.g. soot. If the heat pump causes problems, it is most likely due to inadequate estimation of the house’s heat energy requirements or incorrect pump power selected for installation in the building. It is also worth noting what kind of water is used in the heating process. For example, if there are high levels of iron, the oxidation process may lead to iron oxide being formed and deposited on parts of the installation. Having too much of this in certain areas can lead to blockages and therefore the heat pump’s efficiency will be affected. Before installation, it is worth asking a specialist to test the water you have, as you can choose to install elements with higher corrosion resistance that can decrease the chance of problems occurring later.