Could Ground Source Heat Pumps ever rival mains gas?

Having recently heard the depressing news that the government are finalising plans to build 20 new natural-gas power stations, I have been giving this stuff a bit of thought recently. I have nothing against gas-quite the opposite, I think its great: a cheap handy way to provide heat and fuel for ovens to homes across the land. Which is why I think wasting all this stuff on industrial electricity supply is so daft.

It may be that in the long term it benefits my business as it will speed up the process of using up a fossil fuel energy supply. However, I gain no pleasure from seeing a perfectly good resource being put to waste.

Anyway, up until very recently, if I ever got a potential customer who asked me whether his or her house would be suitable for a ground source heat pump, my first question was always ‘are you connected to mains gas?’ If the answer was yes then that is the end of the road. There is no way a heat pump can compete long-term while the price of mains gas is so cheap.

However, that may well be about to change with the development of a new, small scale heat pump system which can link up a number of small premises (e.g. a block of flats) and use heat brought from the ground to heat these homes.

Kensa (manufacturer based in Cornwall) have developed the ‘Shoeox Heat Pump’ which is smaller than a combi boiler and can provide space heating and hot water for a similar price as long as it is connected in series with other properties. That is why ┬áit would be perfect for a new block of flats or any groups of small residences that are collectively revamping their heating system.

What’s more, the system will qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive meaning it should be able to pay for itself within 5 years.

If you are interested in how this could work check out this video:

Air Source Heat Pumps

I wrote a little while ago on how Ground Source Heat Pumps work and that they are even workable in sunny Scotland. Well, now I will introduce you to an even crazier concept: Air Source Heat Pumps.

An air source heat pump looks like a large air conditioning unit. Here is a photo of one I fitted a while ago:

Basically, this unit sucks in air uses it to heat a refrigerant which has a really low boiling point. This refrigerant is then compressed and the heat used to heat water which you can pump around your home to your heart’s content!

This may sound like a weird concept but if you don’t believe me, stick your hand behind your fridge. You will find that the air there is warm. That is because your fridge is doing the same job only the other way round! It is sucking in warm air from the outside and extracting cold air into the fridge. The heat you feel is a combination of warm air being sucked in and heat given off in the process.

The advantage of Air Source over Ground Source is that there are much easier to install. Time required is 2-3 days depending on the extent of internal work whereas Ground Source you’re looking at at least a week and the groundworks can be pretty extensive! Although Air Source is more affected by outside temperatures, they are still very reliable at temperatures as low as -15 degrees C. In the vast majority of the UK that’ll be more than sufficient and if not, an immersion heater is installed as standard for back up, just in case.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, the exciting news is that BEC is a newly accredited installer of Mitsubishi Ecodan Air Source Heat Pumps. These are basically the best Air Source Heat Pumps on the market for the efficiency and the price.

If you are thinking about this, then please do get in touch. It could save you a fortune in oil or gas!