With winter snapping at our heels and around 4.5 million fuel poor homes in the UK today, tackling fuel poverty is understandably high on the agenda of housing associations and local authority landlords.
There is also pressure rightly mounting on manufacturers across the sector to create better, more energy efficient and eco-friendly products, with initiatives such as the ErP Directive aiming to phase out poorly performing heating products entirely.
Heat pumps are increasingly proving their efficiency and helping reduce energy bills whilst creating healthier living spaces for the tenants within. But what exactly is a heat pump?
Well, put simply, a heat pump is a device that harvests heat from one area to reuse it in another. In this sense, every single one of us already has a heat pump in our homes – your refrigerator, quietly working away day and night to keep your beers cold and your food fresh.
Put simply, a heat pump is a device that harvests heat from one area to reuse it in another.
How can it heat my home?
The two most prominent types of heat pumps used in housing across the UK are exhaust air and air source heat pumps. Few properties are near a big body of water to utilise a water source system, or have the space necessary for a ground source heat pump.
An exhaust air heat pump collects energy from warm inside air as it leaves the home via the ventilation system and then reuses it inside. These have had a somewhat bad press in the social housing sector, largely due to poor specification. However, in the right setting they are very effective, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach when choosing the right heat pump for your properties.
An air source heat pump works much like your refrigerator, but in reverse; it sits outside the home extracting heat from the air (even down to -20° C) and uses this heat to provide hot water and heating for radiators and/or underfloor heating systems.
The benefits of air source heat pumps
Heat pumps are sustainable, because the heat they harvest from the air is renewed naturally every day by the sun. They can help lower fuel bills, especially over direct electric, oil and LPG and potentially provide a quarterly income for the landlord through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.
Air source heat pumps are relatively easy to install too – especially the Monobloc versions, with minimal maintenance required thereafter. The best ones come with simplified controls for the tenants, whilst also providing the social housing provider with the ability to monitor performance remotely.
The use of air source heat pumps is growing year on year and they are able to offer tangible benefits to those who specify them, with the initial outlay ultimately paid for through energy savings over time as well as through RHI payments.
They are also increasingly well received by tenants who no longer have to heat just one room in winter, being able to keep the whole home warm… and toasty tenants are happy tenants!
Joe Bradbury is Assistant Editor of Housing Association Magazine.
If you have any questions about this article or want to know more, please email us. We will contact the author and will get back to you as soon as we can.
If you would like more information of air source heat pumps, including the Mitsubishi Electric Ecodan range please visit https://ecodanerp.co.uk