News that the Government is about to increase payments through their Renewable Heat Incentive for low carbon technologies such as heat pumps could have major benefits for households and businesses across the UK over the next year or so. The city of Drammen in Norway switched to heat pump technology and managed to decarbonise its city heating by 85%. With the right incentive for the UK, it’s hoped that the same kind of reductions could be made and, in the process, significantly lower our collective carbon footprint.
About a half of carbon emissions for the UK come from commercial and domestic heating – and we need to reduce this quickly if we are to meet our climate change obligations. Switching to low carbon technology such as a heat pump, therefore, makes good sense.
The Benefits of a Heat Pump
- Despite the fact that it uses a small amount of electricity to run, heat pumps are seen as a renewable heating technology.
- They take the latent heat from the ground, air or even water to provide hot water and heating.
- If you are replacing something like conventional electric heating, you can expect to see a significant reduction in your fuel bills.
- You can also lower your carbon emissions depending on the fuel system you are replacing.
- You can get extra income from the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive which may well be increased shortly to encourage uptake over the next year or so.
- Low operating costs and low maintenance means that heat pumps are a highly attractive way to heat your home or business if you have the right kind of property.
Types of Heat Pump
There are three main types of heat pump – ground, air and water sourced. They essentially work in a similar way to your refrigerator but in reverse, heating up rather than cooling down by a process of compression. There is heat in everything around us and this technology can extract it even if the temperatures outside are below zero.
Air Sourced Heat Pumps: These are fitted to the outside wall of your property and use a fan mechanism to draw in the air. This is then fed into a compressor that increases the temperature which is then subsequently fed into your hot water and heating systems.
Ground Sourced Heat Pumps: This requires more work and comes at a higher cost but is also considered more efficient. A network of pipes is laid in the ground surrounding your property and these extract the heat which is then fed into your home system.
Water Sourced Heat Pumps: It’s not just ground and air that can be used to produce heat. Any decent sized water source such as a lake or pond can be used, even a river.
Are You Well Insulated?
Heat pumps work at lower temperatures than traditional heating systems so your home or business property needs to have good insulation. For new properties this isn’t normally a problem but for older ones it might require some remedial work before installing a heat pump becomes viable. The good news is that recent developments means that we may soon have commercially available heat pumps that produce much higher temperatures, solving this problem once and for all.
What is the Renewable Heat Incentive?
The RHI was introduced by the Government in 2011 and was intended to help those who took up renewable heating like biomass, solar thermal and heat pumps, making sure they would be rewarded for doing so. It basically pays a certain amount for every kWh of heat produced and is paid quarterly for the first seven years of the installation. The Government is currently looking at this to see how they can provide more incentive for uptake.
Find out more about heat pumps and the Renewable Heat Incentive here.