The methods employed to heat one’s home have become ever-more important in recent years. As Europe grapples with rising costs of traditional forms of energy such as natural gas and oil, finding future-proof alternative technology has never been a more important priority for homeowners.

At Energy Quotes, connecting our customers with top-grade expertise in sustainable technologies is our mission. While many primarily associate our services with solar PV solutions and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, some of our lesser-known products have equal potential to revolutionize energy efficiency as well as usher in significant savings.

By extracting heat from the ground or atmosphere, heat pumps give homeowners the exciting opportunity to heat their abodes without the need for relying on fossil fuels. Apart from being one of the most efficient ways to keep a home warm over the cold winter months, these pumps also make a strong financial case for itself.

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What are heat pumps?

Usually installed on the exterior of the home, heat pumps are small devices that allow for internal heat regulation. While the term “heat pump” leads some to believe that these machines only work to provide warmth, pumps can also work as cooling agents in hotter summer months, effectively by pushing the warm air outside of the home.

Able to convert about 1 kW of energy into 3 kW of heat, the high-efficiency model renders heat pumps as one of the most attractive home heating options for sustainability-minded homeowners.

The two common types of heat pumps are:
Ground source heat pumps
Air to water source heat pumps

While mentionable differences exist between the technologies found in each type, both setups present much more sustainable options when compared to more traditional heat sources. By circumventing the need to rely on external fuel, both heat pumps also give the homeowner an enhanced level of independence.

Ground Source heat pumps

Also known as geothermal heat pumps or ground to water heat pumps, ground source heat pumps source heat from within the earth. Living up to its name, most of the ground source heat pump infrastructure lies underground.

A series of pipes, known as the ground loop, runs under the ground adjacent to the home. In Ireland, the temperature a few metres beneath the ground remains at a consistent 11 degrees Celsius. This ensures that water in the loop can access ground heat throughout the year.

Once the cool water has been warmed up through ground heat, it can then be fed towards the pump itself. Comprised of both a compressor and a heat exchanger, the pump itself uses its components to convert the heat from the source and transfer it through to the central heating of the home.

This transfer is made either with the help of radiators, or underfloor heating. In addition to heat, ground loop pump technology can also be used to heat water. For more information on sustainable water heating techniques, check out our page on solar thermals here.

The condenser acts as the lynchpin of the heat pump. By using a coil, the condenser is where the heat is transferred to air or water. After that, an expansion valve reduces pressure, allowing the condenser to stay at a consistent temperature before the heated refrigerant flows to the evaporator.

Heat pumps of this kind normally boast a coefficient of performance (COP) of around 4. This means that peak energy output is four times higher than the energy used to run the heat pump. As such, this means that heat pumps are 3-5 times more efficient than traditional gas boilers, not to mention less financially demanding.

Air to water Source heat pumps

Although less comprehensive than their ground-sourced counterparts, air to water heat pumps also present a sustainable and forward-thinking way to provide heat to the home.

True to the name, the air to water pumps do not draw heat from the ground, but rather from the air. Due to this, the extensive underground components needed in the ground-source pump is not nessecary. This makes air to water pumps more attractive to homeowners who may not have enough space for a ground-sourced setup.

Evaporation serves as the first step in sourcing heat from the air. An outdoor unit collects air, absorbing it into a liquid refrigerant. Once the air has been collected, it is internally compressed into gas, a process that raises the temperature. Finally, the gas is released into the home heating system, where it is converted again, this time into a warm, liquid state.

Unlike ground source heat pumps. Air to water pumps cannot rely on a stable temperature, especially in Ireland. However, some newer models can use refrigeration technology to draw heat in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius. Heat pumps do this through their absorptive properties, which traps heat generated from molecules and atoms moving quickly through the air, even when the outside temperature drops to well below freezing.

Benefits of heat pumps

For most heat pumps, connecting to the National Grid is the only requirement. The self-generating nature of technology allows for homeowners to bypass the process of paying for ever-increasing costs of gas and oil. As seen above, the energy efficiency of heat pumps is also several times higher than boilers.

Moreover, the amount of upkeep needed to maintain a working heat pump is often a fraction of what it costs to maintain a traditional boiler. In addition to requiring an annual check, gas boilers owners need to be aware of gas leaks – costly damages that can result in danger to the home on top of costly repairs.

By relying on the lineup of experienced and fully accredited installations from Energy Quotes, homeowners can also improve their BER rating, and witness home values rise on account of installing a heat pump. Heat pumps of both kinds have an average lifespan of 15-20 years and can even last up to 50 by enacting a light degree of maintenance and care.

Cost of heat pumps

In Ireland, homeowners can expect to pay between €8,000 and €14,000 for an air-source heat pump om average, while ground-sourced heat infrastructure can come with a cost of up to €20,000 including installation.

Thankfully, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has committed to shouldering some the costs. Under the SEAI’s Heat Pump System Grant, those occupying homes build before 2021 can apply for up to €6,500 towards installing a heat pump on their property. For apartments, the grant amount is set at €4,500 for both air and ground pump systems.

Seeing as though this could cover significant portions of some cheaper heat pump option, there has never been a better time to explore this option for your home.

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