If a greater control of energy consumption and return on investment is what you want then high-performance heat pumps are the future. However, not all heating systems can be fully switched from fossil fuel to heat pump technology. In this instance The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) encourages the use of multiple heat sources.
Installing a heat pump can deliver high heating outputs with low energy input. But to enjoy the full benefits of renewable heat within a multiple energy system you need an intelligent energy hub. Without one the separate heating sources within a standard thermal store system will work independently, run inefficiently, and energy bills will be bigger than they should be.
An intelligent energy hub provides a heating system with somewhere to store usable energy as and when it becomes available throughout a 24 hour period. It can also prioritise lower cost renewable heat sources by controlling and managing all of the heat sources being fed in and out of the heating system.
For example, in the morning the intelligent energy hub will have heated the store with cheap rate energy from the grid for heating and hot water. During the day the solar thermal energy has charged both the upper tank and lower tank, while turning off the heat pump.
Lighting a wood burner in the evening will hold off the heat pumps and allow the store to charge to a high temperature if required for peak heat and hot water use. The additional heat input from an oil or LPG boiler can also be utilised for high energy demand properties. The system needs to be able to identify when and where energy is coming from. If not it will generate heat when free energy is available elsewhere. Energy hubs can manage the distribution of energy, because when stored it can be required for both heating and hot water. This is dealt with by an energy hub’s tank. Those with two compartment style tanks have the advantage over energy hubs with only one – if you’re heating water in one tank from 10 to 50°C you risk depleting the energy available in a thermal store.
The heat for hot water is delivered via a high energy transfer coil within the unit – some are capable of delivering flow rates of up to 40 litres per minute. If the demand for hot water is larger than the unit’s capacity then an additional external domestic hot water unit can be added and managed by the control system.
The heating is controlled via weather compensation logic, capable of managing more than one heating zone. Up to four different zones can be controlled by an energy hub, which measures and monitors the internal target temperatures against the outside temperature.
So if you’re installing heat pumps – think energy hubs. They are able to fully and successfully manage multiple sources of heat, so customers can enjoy complete control of their heat and hot water, a highly efficient performance, and a healthy return on their investment, through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), and smaller energy bills.