At a time of volatile energy prices and deepened environmental awareness, keeping a close eye on clever ways to maximise energy efficiency has become essential. Domestic solar panels have historically been the go-to energy-saving technology of choice, but in recent years, the popularity of heat pumps has soared.
Offering numerous advantages and high availability, both air and ground source heat pumps provide a low-carbon alternative to more traditional heating solutions. Across Europe, 19.3 million heat pumps are installed, with figures rising 11% year-on-year – driven, in part, by increasing policy support and incentives.
It comes as disappointing reading, therefore, that the UK is falling far behind many of its European neighbours. Around 55,000 heat pumps were sold in the UK in 2022 – fewer installations than 21 other European countries, such as Norway, where two thirds of all homes are fitted with heat pumps.
But while the picture may seem bleak, change is coming. Indeed, to accelerate heat pump adoption to 600,000 installations per year by 20283, the UK government recently increased the grants available for both air and ground source heat pumps installations to £7,5004 – presenting homeowners with the perfect excuse to take the plunge finally.
But what exactly is a heat pump, and how can it contribute to energy savings and a lower carbon footprint?
A quick guide to heat pumps
Heat pumps are flexible climate-control devices that function as heating and cooling units, depending on ambient temperature. Unlike traditional heating and cooling systems, such as gas boilers or air conditioning, heat pumps have the function of two-way heat transfer, with the ability to direct heat energy between indoor and outdoor environments. This allows for more effective and consistent temperature control with greater energy efficiency than many heating systems.
Heat pumps work by circulating refrigerant through a cycle of evaporation and condensation. On hot summer days, heat is removed from the house and transferred to the outside air, whereas, during the cold winter, the little heat available is taken from the chilly air outside (good heat pumps still work in ambient temperatures of around -15°C) and transferred into the home. This cycle makes heat pumps extremely effective at regulating indoor temperatures year-round.
A big advantage of heat pumps is their passive nature, meaning they are much more efficient than their traditional counterparts. The end result is a noticeably cheaper energy bill and around a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions when compared to a gas boiler – a highly attractive solution for domestic temperature control.
But as efficient as modern heat pumps are, they still need electricity to run. This reliance on mains electricity can possibly be seen as counterintuitive when looking to curb carbon emissions, but fortunately, there’s a solution.
Eco-smart home solutions are key
As home energy and heating technologies evolve, we’re seeing a growing demand for tech which synchronises devices that generate, store, and use electricity, as well as smart home devices that offer a simple way to make home energy systems greater than the sum of their parts.
Innovative power diverter technologies, such as myenergi’s eddi, are proving hugely popular with homeowners, and the best ones one the market are even compatible with both air- and ground-source heat pumps.
Rather than exporting surplus self-generated electricity back to the grid, a good power diverter redirects energy to a designated heating appliance, such as a heat pump or an immersion heater, to other devices, or into energy storage if heating and cooling are not needed at that time. They can even be configured to send energy to multiple heating appliances in sequence, automatically switching between them to provide the greatest energy efficiency.
While it’s not necessary for households to utilise solar PV to power their heat pumps, a power diverter from a trusted manufacturer is invaluable for households with both technologies. When PV is generating low volumes, such as on a cloudy day, the tech can automatically ‘trickle charge’ energy to heat water when their water heater is inactive – offsetting the need for power from the grid. Once panels reach a higher load, power can be diverted directly to the heat pump. With the ability to make intelligent decisions every second, the best power diverters can help homeowners maximise the value of their self-generated renewables.
The future of domestic heating
Innovative energy technologies like heat pumps will be crucial as we continue to target net zero and cut bills. Not only do they reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they also help slash rising energy costs while delivering year-round temperature control. When integrated with technologies like solar power and eco-smart devices, homeowners can boost efficiency from their self-generated renewables, maximising energy savings while minimising their carbon footprint.
For more information about myenergi, or its ecosystem of home energy technologies, visit www.myenergi.com.