Towards the end of the RHI ground source heat pumps rose in popularity bringing cost advantages to economies of scale. Capital costs can still be prohibitive for smaller installations but are expected to decrease as the technology becomes more commonplace.
Traditionally, the high Coefficient of Performance (ratio of electricity input to useful heating or cooling output) of heat pumps and low maintenance needs keep running costs low; however, the trend of electricity prices throughout 2021 has now painted a greyer picture about this benefit.
CoP describes a ratio of the energy in against energy out of the system, analogous to the thermal efficiency of traditional heating systems. For example, a heat pump with a CoP of 3 means that for every 1 kWh of electricity it uses, it produces 3 kWh of heat.
Due to the increase in operating costs, the key to making a heat pump system work in a business sense is to put effort into site energy efficiency to make the most out of the heat produced. By ensuring that as little heat is ‘wasted’ as possible, the heat pump can cover a greater heating demand with the same running cost.
Most importantly, improving the insulation of both the heated space and the heat delivery pipework will ensure reductions to system losses. The CoP of heat pumps decreases as the temperature differential increases. For that reason, if possible, setting the control system to a slightly lower operating temperature should lead to electricity savings.
It also worth considering:
- Running ground or water reservoir sourced heat pumps in reverse during summer months can also ‘recharge’ the ground, making it easier for the system to work efficienty with the change in season heading into winter.
- If water is being pumped from a borehole and pumped around site, or if heat is distributed using fans, variable speed drives may help reduce ancillary electricity demand.
- Finally, with the increasing costs of electricity import, on-site generation becomes more valuable, particularly when paired with energy storage.
If you are interested in installing a new system, or want to improve the efficiency of an existing system, get in touch with [email protected]