Heat pumps are a novel method of extracting heat from the environment. They take heat from the ground or water or the air. The heat thatthey have collected, can then be used to heat your home or hot water. These heat pumps are known as ground source or air source. They do need electricity to power them, but they are so efficient that you get much more energy out than you put in. Also, this heat comes from a renewable source.
How do heat pumps work?
A new word has been invented called coolth. This refers to the heat that is collect from one source and used elsewhere. Heat naturally flows from a warmer place to a cooler place. A heat pump uses a special liquid that can absorb and give off heat very quickly. This liquid is compressed so that it gets very cold and then when it is passed through another environment that is warmer such as the ground or water or air, it absorbs some of that heat and takes it to a heat exchange where it heats up the house or hot water. Typically a heat pump will give 4 times as much energy, back as heat, than it took to run the heat pump. This makes them very efficient.
What are the key benefits of heat pumps?
Heat pumps are very popular in other EU countries such as those in Scandiavia, where they can produce heat in ambient temperatures as low as minus 15 degrees.
Heat pumps can be retrofitted to many UK homes. They are however, ideal for new builds. These are highly insulated properties and so make the most of the available heat.
They can work with either underfloor heating or existing radiators. It may be necessary though to install more or bigger radiators. They can als be used in conjunction with solar water heating. Once installed and connected to the heating and hot water circuits they are fully automatic.
Ground source heat pumps can either work from loops that are buried in the ground or bore holes that are drilled vertically. Water source heat pumps need a source of water such as a river or stream. They do not work well in lakes, unless it is a very large lake. This is because they take heat out of the environment and if it is a small lake, it might freeze. Air source heat pumps just need unrestricted access to outside air.
What are the main issues relating to heat pumps?
Because heat pumps create their warmth in a much more gentle and slower way, they need to have a well insulated house. There is no point in heating the house if it is leaking out the walls and windows as fast as you create it. Heat pumps work best when maintaining a temperature rather than trying heat a space up as with a normal central heating system. This means that they usually work 24 hours a day to maintain a temperature.