Cheaper to run and greener al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional heat­ing sys­tems

The Oban Times - - News 5 -

Heat pumps take heat energy from out­side the home (from the air, the ground or even from wa­ter). This heat energy is then con­cen­trated to pro­vide heat for your home at tem­per­a­tures that can be used for ra­di­a­tors, un­derf loor heat­ing, warm air con­vec tors and hot wa­ter. Heat pumps have some im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment as they need elec­tric­ity to run, but the heat they ex­tract from the en­vi­ron­ment is con­stantly be­ing re­newed nat­u­rally.

How do they work?

An air source heat pump ex­tracts heat from the out­side air in the same way that a fridge ex­tracts heat from its in­side. A fan helps to draw fresh air into the heat pump unit. It can get heat from the air even when the tem­per­a­ture is as low as -15°C. A ground source heat pump ex­tracts heat from the ground via pipes, called a ground loop, buried in your gar­den. The ground stays at a fairly con­stant tem­per­a­ture un­der the sur­face all year round. The length of the ground loop de­pends on the size of your home and the amount of heat you need. Longer loops can draw more heat from the ground, but need more space to be buried in. If space is lim­ited, a ver­ti­cal bore­hole can be drilled in­stead. Heat from the air or ground is ab­sorbed into a spe­cial ma­te­rial (a re­frig­er­ant) thus rais­ing its tem­per­a­ture. The pump in the sys­tem com­presses the re­frig­er­ant to raise its tem­per­a­ture even more, and this use­ful heat is then trans­ferred into your cen­tral heat­ing sys­tem to warm your home and into your tank to heat your wa­ter.

What do I need?

It is es­sen­tial that your home is well in­su­lated and draught­proofed for a heat pump sys­tem to be ef­fec­tive, so plan energy ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments first. A well-in­su­lated home with a lower de­mand for heat will also mean that the size of the heat pump re­quired will be smaller and, there­fore, cheaper. Un­like tra­di­tional boil­ers and elec­tric stor­age heaters, heat pumps de­liver heat at lower tem­per­a­tures over much longer pe­ri­ods. Heat pumps are most ef­fi­cient when used with larger ra­di­a­tors or un­der­floor heat­ing. If you have stan­dard ra­di­a­tors de­signed for a tra­di­tional boiler then your heat pump in­staller should tell you whether you are best to re­place them with larger ra­di­a­tors to get a more ef­fi­cient sys­tem that is cheaper to run. We rec­om­mend you use an in­staller ap­proved un­der the Mi­cro­gen­er­a­tion Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Scheme (MCS) and you get quotes from at least three in­stall­ers to com­pare costs and ser­vices.

How much do they cost?

A typ­i­cal do­mes­tic air source heat pump sys­tem costs from £7,000 to £13,000 to in­stall, or from £13,000 to £20,000 for a do­mes­tic ground source heat pump sys­tem. Costs will de­pend on the sys­tem type, the prop­erty and the lo­ca­tion.

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