Heat pumpsEthical Home & Garden News & Features
ou’ve already got at least one heat pump in your home - here’s why you should get another.
Home » Heat pumps
Published: 12 August 2014
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is up and running for domestic energy users as well as businesses, offering a financial incentive to switch to renewable heating.
While some technology is still being vetted for inclusion under the domestic RHI, heat pumps have been confirmed as one of the options available to homeowners who want to cash in on the renewable potential of their homes. Like the Feed-in Tariff for electricity, the RHI offers financial rewards for those generating heat from renewable sources; the more efficient the renewable system you install, the more money you can claim.
If the term ‘heat pump’ is putting you off, don’t let it – you’ve already got one in your home. A heat pump uses the same technology as a refrigerator but in reverse. The unit sits outside your home and extracts heat from the air (even in winter), which causes the refrigerant liquid to evaporate into a gas. This gas is compressed to generate heat for your indoor water.
There are so many variables that it’s impossible to say exactly how much you could save if you install an air source or ground source 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 heating system. However, data from BRE (the UK’s leading centre for independent advice for the built environment) suggest that heat pumps offer significant reductions in running costs compared with conventional fossil fuel systems and direct electric systems.
Like any heating system, Ecodan heat pumps from Mitsubishi Electric work most effectively in properties with high levels of thermal efficiency. It’s important to undertake basic improvements, such as cavity wall insulation, loft insulation and double glazing, before installing a heat pump.
Mitsubishi Electric has developed an online Selection Tool to help users, consultants, contractors or anyone else with an interest in heat pumps to get an insight into what this technology could deliver to your building. Whether your project is a single home or a school, a hotel or an apartment block, the application is designed to direct you towards the right solution by personalising the information for you. You just select your property type and then fill in information about its size (to understand the capacity you need), building details and your current heating system. The calculator then estimates how much a heat pump could save in running costs and C02 emissions as well as illustrating what the RHI payments would be.
These low-carbon, efficient heating systems are ideal for Britain’s temperate climate; heat pump technology is the most popular form of heating in areas like Scandinavia, where the climate is much cooler than the UK’s. Ecodan heat pumps work at temperatures as low as -15°C, which is pretty good considering the average British winter is only around -5°C. Even at these temperatures, there is still heat in the air that can be harvested and transferred into your home for radiators, underfloor heating and hot water. With the price of oil showing no sign of coming down and fossil fuels literally costing the Earth, these heat pumps are a cost-effective renewable heating solution.
The Ecodan range has received full accreditation for the Government’s Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). In recognition of Ecodan’s status as a low-carbon technology, the cost of VAT is reduced to 5% for domestic installations (the standard rate of VAT applies to all traditional heating systems). For new buildings, the technology is eligible for zero VAT.
Whether you live in a small flat or a large detached house, heat pumps offer reliable and efficient heating and hot water all year round. The units can be used to replace any existing heating system, and offer those in off-gas areas a viable, low-carbon alternative to oil. They’re cheaper to install and run and, with a professionally maintained Ecodan heat pump unit offering an average lifespan of 15-20 years, you’ll save on annual maintenance costs, too.
Like any renewable heating system, your heat pump will need to be optimised to suit your individual property.
How they work
The main unit for the air source heat pump sits outside your house in all weather conditions.
The fan inside the Ecodan draws the outside air across a series of copper pipes (the heat exchanger) at the back of the unit.
The heat exchanger, like a refrigerator, contains a refrigerant. It harvests low-grade heat energy from the outside air, which the heat pump converts into warm air for the home.
Ecodan units are different from oil and gas boilers in that they heat radiators to a lower temperature. This lower level of heat, combined with correctly sized radiators, offers a much more consistent and comfortable temperature, as well as meaning the radiators aren’t scorching hot to the touch.
These lower flow temperatures are also where the high levels of efficiency come from, but you will still be able to heat your home to the temperature that you require using thermostats on the walls. It’s an intelligent unit that works out how best to use the heat to deliver all the hot water you need.
You could get an average of three units of heat energy out for every unit of electric energy in, but this will depend on the overall system efficiency and features — such as loft insulation and double glazing — of your home. The way the heat pump is set up and used will also have an impact on its overall efficiency.
Ecodan air source heat pump
Mitsubishi Electric’s Ecodan air source heat pumps use the latest heat pump technology to provide low-cost, low-carbon heating and hot water for your home, all year round. The self-contained units are quick and easy to install and require minimal maintenance; they only require electricity so there’s no need for gas supplies, flues or additional ventilation.
Ecodan packaged cylinder unit
The units come pre-wired, pre-plumbed and ready to go, with really straightforward and user-friendly controls.
The efficient and hassle-free fourth-generation controller allows the system to respond faster, creating a more stable and comfortable temperature in the home.
Ecodan is currently the only air source heat pump that’s been accredited by the Noise Abatement Society, and has been awarded the ‘Quiet Mark’ certificate. You won’t notice it working away while you’re in the garden.
For more information on the different heat pump units available, and to get a rough idea of how much money you could save on your heating bills, take a look at www.ecodan.co.uk.