How do Heat Pumps work?
Have you ever felt the amount of heat that comes out the back of your kitchen fridge whilst it cools the inside? If you imagine a big fridge with the hot part inside the building and the cold part outside, this is how an air source heat pump works. By using heat pumps instead of traditional cooling systems, the cycle can be reversed allowing heating and cooling using the same system.
Essentially, air source heat pumps extract heat from the outside air using a refrigeration cycle. The refrigerant absorbs the heat energy from the air and moves it to where it is wanted, via copper piping. Air conditioning is usually thought of as cooling a space. However made as a heat pump, they can also heat the internal space and even produce hot water. A heat pump can extract energy from the outdoor air efficiently, even on very cold days with sub zero temperatures outside, some as low as -20°C.
While this is a very simple explanation, in reality heat pumps can deliver a wide range of system requirements, from space and hot water heating for domestic settings to fully integrated systems, delivering heating, cooling, hot water, ventilation and heat recovery for complex buildings.
Why choose a heat pump?
The latest energy saving and carbon reduction legislation means that there is now more onus than ever to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and adopt more sustainable, renewable energy solutions.
The benefits of doing so are huge. Delivering up to four times the energy efficiency of traditional Electric fuel systems, heat pump technology can make major cost savings, while avoiding thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. Many thousands of buildings operate very efficiently with heat pumps as their sole heating source. In commercial environments, heating and cooling with reverse cycle heat pumps mostly release less carbon into the atmosphere than just heating alone would do using a conventional boiler.
For the domestic heating market, an air-to-water heat pump solution such as the Daikin Altherma range for UK residential applications offers a high-efficiency, sustainable heating system to replace existing oil or gas boilers.
Can heat pumps be installed in existing buildings?
It’s possible to retro-fit a heat pump into an existing property – it’ll certainly help reduce your reliance on gas, natural gas or oil.
However, at the very outset, you need to upgrade your insulation throughout the entire property. Check your attic, put dampers in open fires, see if you can have cavity wall insulation, double or even triple glazing installed and try and make the property as air-tight as possible.
Do Heat Pumps make much noise?
No, they hum like a large refrigerator. The Worcester heat pumps have had many years of research and development that has included major noise and vibration reduction.
What Maintenance is required for heat pumps?
Essentially none- the system components do not require regular servicing and no emission checks are needed.
What type of building is suitable for heat pumps?
Heat pumps are suitable for most building types – domestic and commercial; new and older builds. The ideal situation in which to extract maximum return from a heat pump is a new building (or newly renovated building that’s up to current building regulations) that’s properly insulated and has underfloor heating.
However, it is still possible and practical to install a heat pump into an older building, even one without underfloor heating. Bear in mind though that this is not the most ideal situation for obtaining optimum return from the heat pump. And it is essential the building is insulated to the levels that you’d expect with a new-build property.
Most radiators would need to be virtually doubled in size or converted to compensate for the lower water temperature and decreased output temperature.
Will it heat a building on the coldest winter day?
Yes it will. Thousands of these systems have been installed for many years in some of the most northern parts of Scandinavia and Canada where the winters are very hard and long. The key is the design and specification process so the system provides enough energy for the application.