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Published on April 30th, 2012 | by Guest Contributor

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Can Heat Pumps Lower Your Energy Bills at Home or Work?

One of the new leaders in renewable energy and domestic heating is a technology in which not everyone is aware of just yet. As interesting and innovative as they are, the media spotlight has not quite yet found its beam in the path of domestic heat pumps; despite them being around since the early 1940s’.

What exactly are Heat Pumps?

As already stated, heat pumps are an exciting renewable energy technology that utilises the heat of the general environment. There are two types of heat pumps available. The first of which is a ground source heat pump which extracts energy from the ground and the second extracts heat from the ambient air of its surrounding environment.

Ground source heat pumps work in two ways. Installed on your property you can either have a coiled loop heat pump which reaches out underneath a property over several feet; if there is little space in your property, the second type of ground source heat pump plunges vertically into the ground. In both cases, a mix of antifreeze is circulated through the pipes which then absorbs the heat in the ground and is then transferred throughout the heating and hot water systems in a building.

Air source heat pumps work in much a similar way to ground source heat pumps though instead of extracting the heat from the ground, they of course gain their energy from the air surrounding them. The liquid that runs through its piping system is passed through a compressor that takes the higher temperature energy and passes it through the heating systems in the house.

Do they work all the time?

As with all renewable energy technologies, there is often concern as to whether such technologies work throughout the year and as to whether they can be relied upon during times of extreme weather. The good news is, like most renewable energy technologies, heat pumps are very almost assured to work 365 days a year. Although indeed, certain parts of the world can suffer from the coldest of winters, air source heat pumps work through them and can even supply temperatures as cold as -15°C. As for ground source heat pumps, they too are extremely versatile as temperature beneath the ground rarely changes, despite surface activity.

How much do they cost?

The price of heat pumps vary depending on which heat pump you want, though roughly they can cost between £9,000 to £17,000. The money which you save because of heat pumps can depend of a number of environmental variants as for example, the efficiency of the pumps can depend largely upon how insulated your property is. A home or office with poor insulation for example, will struggle making the money back from the heat pumps. A well insulated loft is a good safeguard for retaining the heat within your home and driving your electricity bills down; whether you are thinking of buying a heat pump or not. Another important consideration before installing a heat pump is to work out if the heat pump will actually be more efficient than the heating system in which it is replacing. A recent study conducted by the National Savings Trust noted that a typical ground source heat pump could save the average household between £50 to £420 a year, depending on which heating system the pump would be installed to replace; a coal, electric or LPG system would be for example, the optimum technologies for the pump to replace. The National Savings Trust also stated that a typical air source heat pump could also save the average UK household around £330 a year.

Deciding just which pump you want for your property totally depends on you and for most people, this decision lies on just how much space they have available for each type of pump. Take a look at Ploughcroft Renewables heat pumps page for an idea of what heat pumps can do for you.

Chris Taylor is a writer on behalf of Ploughcroft Renewables, who are renewable energy experts in Yorkshire, UK.

image via shutterstock

 





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