What are heat pumps and what are the benefits?

Heat pumps provide an alternative to traditional ways of heating and hot water generation.

Heat sources for heat pumps

There are many different kinds of heat pumps, but they all operate on the same basic principle of heat transfer. Heat transfer means that rather than burning fuel to create heat, a device moves environmental heat from one place to another. In a heat pump, this heat is transferred from a heat source (e.g. the ground, air or water) to a heat destination (e.g. your home). Air source heat pumps are obviously designed to harvest heat from the air, whilst ground source heat pumps use energy collected from the ground or from a collector laid into the bed of a body of water.

Heat pumps extract the sun’s heat from air, water or the ground and, as they work primarily by moving heat, not creating it through burning fuels, they are highly efficient, and will significantly reduce your carbon emissions. Traditional systems require about one unit of electricity or gas to generate one unit of heat. Typically you only need one unit of electricity to deliver three or four units of heat with a heat pump. Heat pumps work effectively all year round.

One simple way to think of a heat pump is as a fridge in reverse!

Sources for energy for heat pumps

The benefits of heat pumps

  • Proven technology, widely used in Europe for decades
  • Installed appropriately they offer lower running costs and carbon emissions than other systems
  • Heat pumps integrate easily with existing systems such as solar energy and electric battery storage
  • Very low maintenance – for example the need for regular flue checks in gas and oil boilers is removed
  • No fuel tank or flue required
  • Unlike boilers heat pumps are capable of cooling as well as heating, making it possible to control the climate of your home year-round if you select a model with a cooling option

The environmental benefits of heat pumps