In simple terms, a heat pump uses the reverse process of an air conditioning unit. Whilst air conditioning absorbs the thermal energy in the room and transfers the heat outside, a heat pump absorbs the thermal energy from an outside source and transfers it into the home, which can then be used for central heating and hot water. The thermal energy source can be from either the air, ground or water.
Heat pumps absorb thermal energy using a liquid called a refrigerant - commonly R410A. This liquid has a boiling point of -48.5C, meaning even on the coldest UK night this liquid will boil and evaporate.
Why is this important?
Heat pumps work by pumping refrigerant around a system. At the start of the system is an evaporator, this is where the refrigerant comes into contact with the thermal energy source. Due to the contrast in temperatures, the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the source and begins to boil – causing it to evaporate and turn into a gas. The refrigerant gas is then pushed through a compressor, causing it to increase in pressure and temperature. The high temperate refrigerant then passes through a condenser. This condenser transfers the refrigerant’s heat into the home’s water based heating system, providing hot water for the home. The cooled refrigerant then passes through an expansion valve, which reduces the refrigerant’s pressure and turns it back into a liquid state. The process then repeats again.
Other than the electricity it takes to run the compressor, this is a renewable way to heat your home.
How efficient are heat pumps?
Heat pumps work by extracting thermal energy from a source, the higher temperature the source the better, but they can still work efficiently down to -2C. Our heat pumps will run at around 400% efficiency under almost all conditions. This means that, for every 1KW of electrical energy you put in, you will get 4KW of heat energy back out. However, the efficiency can increase and decrease depending on the source temperature.
The efficiency of a heat pump depends on the type of heat pump you have and the temperature of the heat source. An air source heat pump is super efficient in the summer because the air is warm outside, but efficiency can drop in the winter due to cooler air temperatures. Whereas ground source heat pumps are highly efficient all year round because of their consistent source temperature - the ground stays at around 10C almost all year round. If you would like to know more about the difference between Air Source, Ground Source and Water Source heat pumps, check out our next blog post!
How do heat pumps compare to other heating systems?
Traditional boiler heating systems work by burning a fuel to create heat for use in the property's central heating and hot water. This fuel is most commonly gas; oil; or solid fuels. Electric boilers work by using an electric element to heat the water. The table below compares the efficiency of various heating systems.
How can you run your home entirely with renewable energy?
It’s no secret that there is a huge push to be more environmentally friendly! Reducing your carbon footprint is vital for the future of the planet. Governments around the world are making environmental changes to their legislation and residents are making changes to their everyday life.
Replacing your combustion boiler with a heat pump will allow you to run your home with 100% renewable energy! Many energy suppliers have now moved over to complete renewable energy, utilising solar, wind and wave energy. Companies such as: Eon; Octopus Energy; Electrocity; Good Energy; Bulb; and more! This means that, if you have a heat pump, you can now power and heat your home without burning any fossil fuels.
How are the government supporting the push for heat pumps?
The UK government has set a ban on gas boilers in any new builds, built after 2025. This is to support them in meeting their 2050 net-zero target. As a result, new build developers will be looking for alternative ways to heat customers homes. One option is electric storage heaters, however these are inefficient and costly to run. Therefore, many developers will be turning to heat pumps. These efficient machines can be used to supply hot water for radiators, underfloor heating and domestic hot water (showers, taps etc.), all from one unit. With huge advances in heat pump technology, new build developers can also create communal ground source or water source heat pumps, allowing multiple houses to benefit from this renewable heat source and low bills.
The government have set a target to have 600,000 heat pumps installed in the UK every year by 2028. To support these installations the government have brought out various grants and schemes to assist UK residents in making the change. Recent grants have consisted of £5,000-£10,000 payments towards the costs of having a heat pump installed.
We believe that with the target set out by the government, more grants will become available to UK homeowners in the near future.
How we can help If you would like help accessing funding, or understanding which type of heat pump is best for your property, fill out our contact form and a member of our team will get back to you!