In this article the energy specialists at Water Treatment Services highlight the advantages and disadvantages of modern heat pumps, used to heat homes and businesses.
The article looks at the different types of heat pump commonly used and their sources of heat. It then goes on to consider the main advantages and disadvantages in using them, and concludes by reviewing some of the practical issues you’ll need to consider before installing a new heat pump.
What are the different types of heat pump?
In the UK and around the world more people than ever are considering alternative methods of heating their businesses, homes and water supplies. One approach that’s growing in popularity is to consider is a heat pump. There are several types of heat pump available for installation, the main types are:
Heat pumps can seem confusing if you’re a newcomer to the topic. It’s easy enough to understand where the heat comes from. You can work out the best source of heat depending on your property and location, and then choose the most appropriate heat pump for your purposes.
Of course, as with all heating systems, there are advantages and disadvantages to using heat pumps. We’ll go through some of the main ones here.
What are the main advantages of heat pumps?
They’re cheaper to operate
When you compare a heat pump to any other method of heating your home or business, a heat pump will typically use far less electricity to perform its role. This means you can enjoy savings on your energy costs throughout the year. So, once installed, you should notice a drop in your energy bill – something we’d all like to see.
Heat pumps can double as an air conditioner for the summer
The heat generated can warm your home through the winter. However, it is possible to reverse the process during the hotter summer months, behaving as an air conditioner. Since few homes in the UK have air conditioners, it means that a heat pump installation essentially serves two purposes.
Heat pumps don’t require as much maintenance as traditional heating systems
If you own a traditional gas boiler, you’ll know that an annual check and safety inspection should be undertaken to ensure it’s operating efficiently and is safe to use. By comparison, a heat pump does not rely on combustion to work, and so presents far less risk and requires fewer checks to ensure it continues to work safely and effectively. It doesn’t totally run on its own without maintenance, of course, but the requirements are certainly less.
Carbon dioxide emissions are lower
For anyone looking to reduce the effect they’re having on the environment, reducing their carbon dioxide emissions can be a big plus point. Heat pumps can also convert more of the energy they generate into usable heat.
The Governments Renewable Heat Incentive
This was a scheme set up by the British Government to encourage the adoption of renewable energy sources. However, this scheme was closed to new applicants 31 March 2022. The idea was that you could apply for the scheme and receive an agreed payment per kWh (per kilo watt hour) according to the system you had. Since the outlay for the ground source and water source heat pumps was higher, the scheme paid a higher rate for each of these. However, you could earn a payment for every unit of energy you generated regardless of the type of pump you installed. The scheme operated for seven years from signup.
What are the main disadvantages of heat pumps?
Heat pumps can be expensive to install
While heat pumps supply a far cheaper source of energy, you pay for that in part with higher upfront installation costs. Prices vary between models and between the different types of heat pump. For example, an air source heat pump is often the cheapest, although prices can still begin at around £8,000 to £10,000. You’re looking at over double the cost at the minimum for a ground source or water source heat pump.
Installation can be challenging
You may wonder why heat pumps are so expensive. Part of the reason is that no two properties are identical. Since you are looking to take heat from an air, ground, or water source, research must be done to ensure you can get the most out of the source you wish to use. So, part of the upfront cost goes on this research and not just the actual purchase and installation of the heat pump.
Heat pumps can cause extensive disruption during installation
We’ve covered a couple of aspects of the installation process already, but we’ll look at this in greater detail here. No matter which type of heat pump you choose, you’re going to experience extensive upheaval during the installation process. While most regular boilers can be installed within a day, heat pumps can take longer. The process also disrupts your garden along with your home, especially if pipes need to be laid outside. Installation also involves punching holes through the walls to bring the system into the home.
They need an electricity source to work
This means that while they are extremely efficient and do bring down your CO2 emissions, they cannot achieve true carbon neutrality.
Would a heat pump work for your home or business?
You may need a reasonable amount of space to be able to accommodate a heat pump. Installation methods vary according to which type of heat pump you choose. One may prove more sensible than another in your case. For example, if there is no obvious body of water you can draw heat from, you’re down to the ground source or air source heat pumps.
Ground source heat pumps require more space than air source heat pumps. This means that some properties would not be able to use a ground source heat pump because the land available is simply not big enough to allow it. Air source pumps, if you recall, are the cheaper of the three methods, partly because there is less work involved in installing them.
There are many things to consider if you’re looking at a heat pump as a potential alternative source of heat for your home or business. The upfront cost often is enough to put off many people, and this is indeed a serious consideration. However, you will benefit from lower energy bills after installation, and there may be Government incentives available that could further bringing down ongoing costs, including the Governments Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), introduced to help reduce carbon emissions.
This heating option won’t be suitable for everyone. However, an important part of considering all the available options is weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of heat pumps. We hope this article has helped you to do just that.
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