In view of the remorseless rise in energy prices, a growing number of people are looking for more efficient ways to heat their homes. In particular, in the last few years, there has been a growing demand for renewable technologies such as solar panels or heat pumps. Not only can these reduce your heating bills considerably, but they are much more environmentally friendly.
Heat pumps can be described as refrigerators in reverse. They draw the latent heat from the air, ground or water, and use an electric pump to increase it to the temperature needed to warm your home. They need electricity to run, but generally provide about three units of heat for each unit of electricity they use. The type of installation you might have depends on whether you use an air source, water source or ground source pump.
Heat Pumps for the Home
The easiest type to install is an air source heat pump, which is simply attached to the outside wall of your house. However, to have a water source pump, you would need a source of water, such as a stream, lake or well, near the house. A ground source pump needs a lot of space round the house, as the pipes are laid in trenches at a depth of 1.5 metres or more.
Air source heat pumps come in two kinds: air to water, and air to air. Air to water heat pumps draw heat from the air outside, and supply it to a normal heating and hot water system. The heating is less powerful than the heat from a conventional boiler, so the heat pump works best with underfloor heating. Alternatively you may need to increase the size of your radiators. Air to air heat pumps feed the heat around the house through fans, so unlike other types of heat pump cannot heat the water as well.
In addition to their energy efficiency, heat pumps bring several other benefits. Compared to a gas boiler, their running costs are on average 56 per cent less, and in fact, if you use a renewable source of electricity, they can be virtually cost free, as well as carbon neutral. One big benefit is that in summer they can be reversed to function as air conditioners. Even Britain has a summer heat wave occasionally.
The best news is that from summer 2013, the government’s RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) will be extended to domestic premises as well as businesses. This scheme provides payments for renewable heat generated by heat pumps and other renewable energy sources. If you would like to take advantage of this, and cut your energy bills at the same time, contact a qualified electrician, who will show you how you can get started.