All things heat pumps
What are heat pumps exactly, how do they work? Is what you’ve heard about heat pumps true? this is your one stop
shop about all things air source heat pumps.
What is a heat pump?
Heat pumps work very similarly to traditional air conditioners. Heat energy is pumped from one location to another, how this transference occurs can vary, and there are typically two types of Heat Pump: Air Source, and Water Source.
The type of Heat Pump that’s right for you varies on the application but as the name implies an Air source heat pumps gathers latent heat energy from the outside air, and water source heat pump do so from a running water supply. While you might not expect a typically cold air or water supply to be able to heat your home
The Magic of Air Source Heat Pumps
Can you imagine pulling warmth from the cold air outside? Indeed, not just cold air but seriously sub-zero air down to -25°! It might sound like the idea has been plagiarised from a sci-fi novel, but Air Source Heat Pumps turns this fiction into a stark reality.
Here's how they work:
1. Eco-Friendly Refrigerants: Modern Heat Pumps use a particular refrigerant called R32. This environmentally friendly refrigerant is crucial to the pump's ability to extract warmth, even from the coldest ambient air. While we in the UK don't often experience such bone-chilling temperatures (well, perhaps our neighbours in the far north of the UK might!), the technology to extract heat from chilled air is a reality.
2. The Chilling Process: Inside the pump, the R32 refrigerant passes through an expansion valve device. This action drops the refrigerant's pressure, plummeting to lows of up to -70C.
3. Capturing Warmth: Even in bitter conditions, as chilly as -25C, this ultra-cold refrigerant can absorb warmth from the surrounding air. You might liken it to squeezing water from a stone, but this technology brings it to life!
4. Pure Efficiency: The magic lies in how cold the Heat Pump can make the refrigerant and how swiftly the outside warmth can be absorbed. During intense periods of cold weather, when the heating needs to spike, the pump has to work a bit harder. It needs more outside air to achieve the same cosy temperatures indoors.
This sounds so futuristic!
It might come as a surprise to learn that it's not so futuristic. The technology behind heat pumps has its roots in the principles of thermodynamics, which were explored during the 19th century. However, the actual development and production of heat pumps is an early 20th-century invention.
1. The first heat pump system patents were developed in the early 20th century. Many inventors recognised the potential of transferring heat from one source to another to stop relying solely on traditional heating methods.
2. It was the 1930s that saw these early ideas put into practical application. Indeed, heat pump technology was being used for both heating and refrigeration. Some homes in the USA were equipped with heat pumps that heated the house and cooled it.
3. During the 1940s, the commercial production of heat pumps rose significantly in the United States, and these early models were often used for space heating.
In a nutshell, Air Source Heat Pumps harness even the faintest warmth from the coldest environments and deliver it right into our homes. It's sustainable technology at its best, redefining how we think about heating.
Can a heat pump save me money?
Whilst gas and oil options remain a part of the UK Government’s current clean growth strategy, the future is clear that a rapid shift away from fossil fuels is required to meet ever tightening climate targets. During this transition period the prices for carbon-based fuels are likely to continually rise with potentials savings increasing over time.
When replacing some of the older G-Rated LPG boilers, a Heat Pump could save as much as £1,300 according to ‘Which?’ while radically reducing your home’s carbon footprint.
Source: Which?: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/ground-and-air-source-heat-pumps/article/air-source-heat-pumps-explained-al5MC4f773Zq - June 2021
Figures above show potential annual savings of installing a standard air source heat pump in an average sized, four-bedroom detached home compared with the current heating systems stated. Figures courtesy of Energy Saving Trust website.
What system is right for me?
Whilst heat pumps can operate all year round, their peak efficiency can only be achieved with a properly designed solution. Two identical installations on the same street or identical houses in two parts of the country can yield radically different levels of efficiency which can severely affect your running costs.
Our expert Heat Loss Calculations will ensure that everything from the shape of your windows to the thickness of your walls, is accounted for to provide year-round peace of mind that both financial and environmental costs of your comfort are as low as possible. To discuss your heating needs, or book a HeatLoss Calculation, contact one of our Renewable Energy Specialists today, or see our Frequently Asked Questions Below:
Frequently Asked Questions
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