There are several types of heat pumps, but all use the same basic principle of extracting heat from a natural source and concentrating it to obtain a higher temperature. The heat gathered is usually then applied for space heating and hot water.

 

There are several types of heat pumps, but all use the same basic principle of extracting heat from a natural source and concentrating it to obtain a higher temperature. The heat gathered is usually then applied for space heating and hot water.

The device which does this can be thought of as a refrigerator operating in reverse. It is usually powered by electricity, but the amount of heat energy delivered is several times more than the electrical energy consumed. The ratio of the output to the input energy is called the Coefficient of Performance (COP).

As heat pumps transfer rather than produce heat they are more efficient than traditional heating systems. However, they generally operate at a lower temperature than boiler systems so benefit from the use of larger radiators or underfloor heating. A good standard of building insulation is also necessary.

In a domestic context, the benefits of heat pumps is that they are often thought of as a ‘fit and forget’ technology requiring little maintenance and eliminating the need for fuel deliveries required by other types of domestic heating. Heat pumps can also provide both space and water heating, which significantly lowers fuel bills. Types of heat pumps include open and closed source heat pumps underground, air source and water source.

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