BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 14 Aug '15

You shouldn’t need your heating much at the moment – which makes now the time to think about it

Barbecues and sunny beaches feel like the only kinds of heating worth thinking about over summer – but this is also the best time to start thinking about your home heating.

There are more heating options available now, and renewable technologies can slash your energy bills while delivering regular payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The RHI is designed to offset the higher upfront cost of renewable technologies when compared with more established and carbon-intensive options. It offers homeowners a quarterly payment which is guaranteed for seven years.

If you want to reduce your monthly bills while also doing your bit to address climate change, an air source heat pump could be the way to go.

Heat pump 101

ecodan3Almost every home in Britain already has a heat pump – sitting in the kitchen. A heat pump uses the same technology as a refrigerator, but in reverse.

While a fridge extracts the ‘heat’ from your food to keep it cool or frozen and rejects this heat out of the back, an ‘air source’ heat pump uses the same basic technology to extract low-grade heat from the outdoor air and upgrade it to the temperatures needed to keep your home and your hot water at exactly the right temperature.

The most straightforward air source heat pumps to use are called ‘monobloc’ systems. They’re fitted outside the home and are relatively easy for qualified heating engineers to install. These heat pumps often work directly with existing heating infrastructures such as radiators, and can work in a hybrid situation alongside current gas, oil and LPG heating.

Heat pumps run on electricity but harvest renewable heat from the outdoor air; this means that for every one unit of electricity consumed, the home can receive an average of three or more units of heating. They will do this even in the depths of winter and will work efficiently down to outdoor temperatures of -15°C.

Deal with leaking heat

Like any heating system, a heat pump works most effectively in properties with high levels of thermal efficiency, so the first question anyone considering a heat pump should ask themselves is whether they need to improve their home’s energy performance.

To qualify for the RHI, the government’s Green Deal Assessment insists that you undertake basic improvements, such as cavity wall insulation, loft insulation and double glazing, before installing a heat pump. Both the heat pump and the installation must also be approved under the government’s Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Once you’ve looked at your home’s thermal efficiency, an air source heat pump will almost certainly cut down your running costs and significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Whatever the home, as long as it achieves modern levels of insulation and thermal efficiency, there is almost certainly a heat pump to suit it.

The cost calculator

There are so many variables that it’s impossible to say exactly how much you could save if you install a heat pump. The size of the property will affect the capacity you need (and therefore the cost of the unit) and the savings will depend on the efficiency of your current system.

Still, data from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) – the UK’s leading centre for independent advice for the built environment – suggest that heat pumps can offer significantly lower running costs compared with conventional fossil fuel systems and direct electric systems.

Mitsubishi Electric has developed an online heat pump selection tool to help anyone with an interest to get an insight into what this technology could offer for their home.

The calculator estimates how much a heat pump could save in running costs and carbon emissions against gas, oil, LPG and direct electric heating, and illustrates what the RHI payments would be.

Eat al fresco undisturbed

Modern systems like Ecodan offer advanced controls including wi-fi internet operation, automated weather compensation and intelligent room sensors, which make heat pump heating easier for homeowners.

Ecodan is also the only air source heat pump that’s been accredited by the Noise Abatement Society. It’s been awarded its ‘Quiet Mark’ certificate, so you won’t notice it working away in the background.

Remote energy monitoring now comes as standard on every Ecodan that leaves the factory, which Mitsubishi Electric sees as a key way of demonstrating the efficacy of the Ecodan range.

Visit ecodan.co.uk to use the heat pump calculator and get an idea of the savings you could make.