A recent study by the Energy Saving Trust of Northern Ireland on domestic heat pump systems indicates that the highest energy efficiencies were achieved by the most basic home heating systems.
Heat pumps offer home owners a method of obtaining hot water and heating their house by taking advantage of the heat trapped just below the ground in their gardens and lawns. In the ground source system, the heat pump circulates a refrigerant which collects the heat trapped in the ground around the house and delivers it into the house. During the winter, the soil under gardens is at a higher temperature than the air above it and the ground source heat pump system uses this situation to move heat around to the place it is wanted, in exactly the same way as a kitchen fridge operates, but on a larger scale.
The study found that for each unit of electricity needed to operate a typical heat pump system, 2 to 3 units of useable heat energy were produced.
Recommendations from the Energy Saving Trust include correctly matching the output of the heat pump with the correct size of domestic heating radiators or alternatively with a low temperature underfloor heating system.
Another recommendation was to reduce the complexity of the heat pump system by fitting straightforward, user friendly control panels.
Fitting the correct size of heat pump for each particular property is vital, say the authors of the study. They also recommend that house owners heating their property using heat pumps should not need to fit a supplementary electric immersion heater.
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