More should be made of the role heat pumps can play in cooling 

More should be made of the role heat pumps can play in providing cooling for buildings, as well as heating, according to Kensa’s technical director, Dan Roberts. 

A ground source heat pump is installed.

The comments were made after the Environmental Audit Committee said the Government had ‘missed an opportunity’ when responding to a report on Heat Resilience and Sustainable Cooling. 

The committee now expects the Government to provide more detail on its plans to adapt the UK to climate change, including tackling heatwaves. 

Kensa Heat Pumps technical director, Dan Roberts, said: “It’s no secret that the world is getting warmer, and in the UK, our homes are not prepared to deal with heatwaves. The Environmental Audit Committee has even cited in its Heat Resilience and Sustainable Cooling report that heat-related deaths could rise to 10,000 every year without concerted actions to adapt to the warming climate – this should raise alarm bells for everyone! 

“When it comes to the home, if we start discussing the possibility of a mass retrofit program to make properties capable of coping with excessive heat, we should be making more of the cooling role that heat pumps can play. 

‘Very few are aware of cooling capabilities’ 

“Heat pumps are pivotal to heat decarbonisation, but very few are aware of their cooling capabilities. Along with being a highly efficient heating source, ground source heat pumps can also provide environmentally friendly, extremely low-cost cooling and overheating protection. 

“Kensa’s ground source heat pumps can be set up to deliver ‘passive cooling’, where the system uses the low ground temperature to provide cooling for a building. Within this system, it’s not necessary to power a compressor and it only takes a small circulation pump and fan to distribute the cool air to the property effectively, preventing overheating for a fraction of the cost of what’s required to run traditional air conditioning. 

“As with all our ground source heat pumps, the newly released Shoebox NX has an inbuilt control system that can facilitate passive cooling out of the box. This low-cost cooling solution is unique to ground source heat pumps and has the added benefit of storing the excess heat in the ground instead of releasing it into the air. This means at the end of summer, when we start using the Heat Pump for heating, its efficiency increases. 

“If we’re looking to install low-cost, low-carbon heating systems so people can afford to heat their homes in winter whilst ensuring the best outcomes for the environment, then surely it’s a win-win if that same product can deliver effective cooling at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions. 

“We gave oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Select Committee last summer on this subject, and if more was made of how heat pumps can be part of the cooling solution as well as heating, then it might help more people see the benefits of what a heat pump can provide.” 

Comment from Environmental Audit Committee Chair 

Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Philip Dunne MP, said: “Extreme heat is already affecting health and livelihoods in the UK. While there is much to welcome in this (*the Government’s) response, there are still serious unanswered questions about how the Government plans to respond to a rapidly warming UK climate. This is frankly a missed opportunity. 

“I am cheered to read further details of the Climate Resilience Board, which demonstrates exactly the kind of collaborative work across Government likely to be crucial in meeting the net zero challenge – a key theme in our committee’s work over the course of this Parliament. 

“However, the Government has made no further commitment towards a national retrofit programme aimed at reducing the risks of overheating and improving energy efficiency. It has not, for example, added cooling measures to current programmes such as the Home Upgrade Grant scheme. 

“Equally, ministers have not answered our questions on whether building regulations on overheating will be extended to cover refurbishments.” 

What do you think? Should we be putting more focus on the cooling capabilities of heat pumps? Send your views to linda@renewableenergyinstaller.co.uk 

Image credit: Kensa.