Boiler systems are very common in temperate climates, and they are there to heat water for everything from heating to washing. The problem is that they are not necessarily that efficient when it comes to using energy, and with most countries around the world looking to bring down their energy usage, it’s quite clear that something needs to be done relatively soon.
It’s already common for newer boiler systems to be a lot more economical than older ones, but they still aren’t the best. Many people have turned to better insulation, which helps reduce the need for boiler use, but there’s always room for improvement when there’s no other option than to heat the house or run the hot water.
Heat pumps could well form part of the answer to our over-reliance on traditional water boilers, and there are two main types; air source heat pumps, and ground source heat pumps.
The basic principles are exactly the same for both types – they extract heat from another source, and transfer it to where the heat needs to be. Energy is still used in this transfer in order to amplify the amount of heat, but the idea is that it is far less than would otherwise have been required. There are some heat pumps that claim to be 300% efficient, though Mark Group recommends that houses should be well-insulated before this kind of system is installed in order for it to work to its full potential.
Air source heat pumps are fitted outside the home, and look very similar to air conditioning units, quite simply because they are almost the reverse of one. They draw heat from the outside air, even when it appears to be cold, and then either send that heat into the home through fans, or directly into the hot water system. They can even work below freezing.
Ground source heat pumps are quite similar. They pump water through the ground, usually in pipes under the garden, extracting the heat. This is then fed back into the hot water system of the house. The main negative of ground units is that you need a relatively large area of land to be able to use the system, where an air pump needs only a very small space.
Over several years, heat pumps can prove to be not only better for the environment, but also money-saving. While they cost a few thousand to install, they save hundreds in bills each year.