What is a heat pump?
Heat pumps are a device that can extract heat energy from something that appears to be cold such as the air or the ground.
Rather than producing heat, heat pumps transfer/move it. For example, your home refrigerator transfers heat out of your food and then ejects the heat to the room via the grille at the back of the unit.
Heat pumps are not free to run as they do need a source of electricity to power them. But the difference with heat pumps is that they can produce far more useful heat energy than the energy needed to drive them.
With sources of electricity generation becoming cleaner and cleaner by way of renewable energies, such as wind farms and solar farms, the net c02 emissions in a correctly configured heat pump installation are normally much lower than conventional fuels such as natural gas, LPG and oil. For this reason, they are classed as low carbon technology and is a recognised form of heating worldwide.
Heat pump efficiency
In a well-installed system, manufacturers promise to be able to deliver 3kw of heat for every 1kw of electricity consumed. Heat pumps run at 300% efficiency, when you compare that to a well-installed gas boiler that has a maximum efficiency of about 94% or an oil boiler with an efficiency between 90% – 94%, you begin to see why heat pumps are a viable alternative to traditional boilers (cited from https://www.kensaheatpumps.com/what-is-the-efficiency-of-a-heat-pump/)
Costs of installing a heat pump
There is a lot of talk about how much a heat pump costs to install and how it is out of reach of the average household. Costs of installing a heat pump can vary depending on the application it is being fitted into. There is no one to install the same as this can depend on the house, the heating system that is currently installed and the demands of the customer.
Any well-installed heating system whether it be a Heat pump, gas boiler, or oil boiler will have a cost involved. A heating engineer in any of these applications should make sure that the appliance fitted will achieve its maximum efficiencies.
A big talking point with a heat pump installation is that all the pipes will have to be ripped out and all the radiators replaced with very large radiators. It is true that heat pumps do run at lower temperatures meaning that larger radiators are often required to deliver the correct amount of heat to the rooms – this isn’t a new way of thinking. When the gas condensing boiler was introduced in 2004 we should have been advised to address radiator sizing at that point as condensing boilers work more efficiently at lower temperatures. So to achieve maximum efficiencies from a heat pump the lower the water temperature to the radiators or underfloor heating the more efficient the heat pump works meaning more KW out compared to what’s going in. This doesn’t mean excessively large radiators or cold conditions, we really do not need a great deal of heat to heat our homes through an average UK heating season and we achieve some fantastic results with our low-temperature heating installs.