With an increasing focus on generating power from renewable resources on a global scale, many domestic and commercial property owners are keen to enjoy the advantages that renewable energy generation can offer. Different technologies offer different benefits and not all homes are suitable for some technologies.
Solar generation and air or ground source heat pumps do, however, offer significant advantages to many homeowners. With New Zealand leading on the global stage when it comes to green energy generation there is little or no funding for those looking to install their own heating or power supply, but the reduction in fuel costs that these systems can offer makes them an attractive alternative to traditional heating and power solutions. In most homes air or ground source heat pumps offer a number of advantages over conventional heating systems.
Ninety per cent Green
Strictly speaking heat pumps are not one hundred per cent green technologies; they do require a power source to operate and are for that reason are not completely carbon neutral. However the raw material for the heat they generate is nothing more complicated than the air around your home. Acting on the same lines as a simple domestic fridge (or air conditioning system) an air source pump takes heat from the air outside and then transfers it to radiators or under-floor systems in the building to be heated. Modern systems can also be reversed and act as air conditioning systems as well as heating systems. This makes them particularly attractive as a single solution to both heating and air conditioning installations.
Free Fuel and Cost Efficiencies
Depending on the type of heating system you are replacing heat pumps can radically lower your fuel bills. The newest heat pumps on the market are designed to run at high efficiency levels and although they may need to be run for longer than traditional heating systems should offer significant savings on traditional electric heating. In green terms they will have a much lower impact than traditional fuels, especially gas, oil or solid fuel. If your existing heating requires fuel deliveries a heat pump will remove this need – the fuel is all around and it’s free! Air source heat pumps are smaller systems (and easier to fit) than ground source, which require pipe work to be buried underground outside your home.
The suitability of heat pumps as a replacement for your existing heating will depend on the type of fuel you currently use. In most cases replacing electric heating or solid fuel heating systems with a heat pump system will offer the most financial benefits. Although they may not offer the biggest saving on gas or oiled fired systems the continuing rising cost of fossil fuels may see this change in future. In terms of installation a heat pump system is usually quick and easy to install and they are one of the lowest maintenance systems on the market.
Insulated against Rising Costs
The efficiency of an air source heat pump will be partly determined by the other energy efficiency measures in your home. Insulation levels will affect how effective the heat pump is and this should be a factor you consider when fitting a pump system. In climates where summer and winter temperatures vary widely, fitting a modern heat pump that can be used for heating or air conditioning as required is often the best option. This creates a single solution but means that you have two systems for the price of one! For the heating system many manufacturers recommend under-floor heating as the most efficient as opposed to traditional radiators and this should be another factor you consider when evaluating different models.
While not completely green air pumps can offer many of the benefits of green technology – not least the free fuel option. Suitable for homes of any size they are a simple solution to both heating and air conditioning systems and many people find they compete extremely well with more traditional heating systems. For those whose property is not suitable for other types of power or heat generation the heat pump option is the most attractive alternative and as one of the lowest maintenance of technologies should prove hassle free in the future.
Sam Mulder is a freelance writer who writes on green technologies and renewable fuel and heating sources. He recommends heat pumps Auckland for those looking for a long term, affordable heating solution.