Air & Ground source heat pumps in the UK

air & ground source heat pumpsAir & Ground source heat pumps are becoming an increasingly popular renewable technology throughout the UK as a source of energy saving. Various kinds are available, but they fall into two main categories:

  • Air source heat pumps (ASHP), which generate heat from the air
  • Ground source heat pumps (GSHP), which use heat from the earth

Both work on a similar principal. They are mainly used for space heating, and they can heat water under certain circumstances. You could think of them working along the same lines of a refrigerator: only in reverse.

Rather than taking heat out of your food, Air Source Heat Pumps and Ground Source Heat Pumps take heat from the air, water or ground and pump it into your home.

These are especially effective if you have a home that is off the gas grid, or if you are planning a new build. You also need enough room for the systems. As GSHP and ASHP both rely on pumping warm air into your home, it is essential that the space is well insulated.

 

How Air source heat pumps work

 

Benefits of the RHI scheme

If you would like to become more self sufficient, reduce your carbon footprint and save money, you may be able to benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI). This Government backed measure is designed to incentivise the uptake renewable heating technologies in people’s homes.

The RHI incentive payments have now been published by the government and from March 2014 repayments are set at 7.3p/kWh for ASHP, 18.8p/kWh for GSHP and 19.2p/kWh for Solar Thermal.

Heating your home in a greener way and reducing your bills is a great idea, but did you know that you could also be paid for the heat you produce? The RHI scheme means that people can get paid for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of renewable heat that they produce.

So, in addition to using your renewable heat in your home, if you are connected to a heat network, you can sell the surplus that you produce. You might even qualify for an additional payment for “exporting” the surplus heat from your renewable system. In order to comply for RHI payments, any renewable heating scheme must be designed, commissioned and installed by an MCS Registered Company such as Mere End Consultants.

 

How heat pumps work

Heat pumps can be highly effective in the right kind of building, but how exactly do they work? Well, they work on a similar principle to a reverse refrigerator. No doubt, you have already worked out that Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) draw heat from the ground, and Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) draw heat from the Air. So, let’s have a closer look at how they work:

GSHP: These use a long looped pipe which is filled with water, and then buried in the earth. The water contains anti-freeze, so it can circulate freely all year round and absorb heat from the earth. Although it might seem as though there might not be enough heat during the winter, the temperature underground is relatively stable all year round: at 8 to 12 degrees C.

The liquid passes though an electric pump which extracts the absorbed heat, before pushing the water back underground. The heat pump uses electricity to boost the heat from the ground, to heat water in the buffer tank. This system is best used in underfloor heating, which is fed from the buffer tank.

ASHP: These operate in a very similar way, but they extract heat from the air outside of your home. They do so using an evaporator coil, which looks rather like one of the large fans on an air conditioner unit. These can operate at temperatures of as little as -15° C. So, these systems are suitable for UK homes.

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