In times defined by energy conservation and need to save money on heating bills, many homeowners are looking for ways to reduce costs while not sacrificing the comfort of a heating system. There are a few things to consider and various tips that can serve to maximise the efficiency of a heat pump system. The main factor to consider is what is known as the Coefficient of Performance, or COP.
The COP is a measure of performance for heating pumps that is expressed in what is known as thermal efficiency. Essentially, the heat supplied to or taken from a reservoir is divided by the work of the pump. The greater the COP value, the more efficient the operating system (the less work the pump has to do to achieve optimum results). So, now that we have a basic grasp of this principle, let us look at several ways to improve the functionality of a heat pump system.
Use Ground Source Heat Pumps When Possible
The coefficient of performance is much higher for these systems. These pumps collect heat from the ground and then transfer it to a heating coil, or conversely take heat from the coil and transfer it back into the ground. The efficiency here lies in the fact that the ground is a very good conductor of heat, therefore making the transfer of heat much more efficient.
Increase Emission and Collection Points
The greater the surface area of the Emission and Collection of thermal energy the quicker the heat pump can achieve the indoor room temperature. Examples of this can be installing larger radiators or employing under-floor heating systems. More heat is released, thus saving the ground source heat pump energy.
Heat Pumps generally have a much lower hot water temperature then electric/gas fired boilers this means that it will not achieve high temperatures when it gets to the emission point of the radiators. Increasing the size of the radiators can help heat a room quicker.
Consider the Correct Flooring
Under floor heating systems should be used in synergy with solid floors. These floors are better conductors of heat and can more transfer the heat to the surrounding environment. Wooden and laminated floors are poor transfer agents and can decrease the transfer of heat.
Moisture Conducts Heat Better
Although this may not always be possible, attempt to use a ground source collection area that is saturated with water. One of the principles of water is that it is an excellent conductor of heat. Therefore, placing a heat pump collection coils in area of the ground that is wet can help maximise the coefficient of performance.
Increase the Home's Insulation
This should go without saying, but nonetheless represents an important factor in saving energy. This is particularly important around window frames and door jambs, as these areas are often overlooked and yet are significant sources of heat loss.
Consider the Heat Loss of Old Piping
Older piping materials can lose a great deal of heat while transferring hot water from a heat pump system to the intended appliance. Pipes should be upgraded to low-temperature materials. This can help increase the efficiency of the entire system and will require the heat pump to work less.
Remove High-Demand Requirements for the Heat Pump
Certain systems should be allocated a different source of heat to help maximise efficiency. An example could be a swimming pool. Such a large requirement of heating can hamper the abilities of a heat pump and lower the temperature of a house, thus requiring more energy to keep rooms at an optimum temperature. By providing a dedicated electric heating system for a swimming pool means you have complete control over the swimming pool energy usage while maximising your heat pumps COP.
Lewis MacNulty is a Electrical Engineer, Green Entrepreneur and author of numerous articles on green technology, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is one of the leading engineers at WDS Green Energy, a leading green technology supplier. Find WDS Green Energy on Facebook and follow WDS Green Energy’s twitter feed.