There are a huge number of reasons for the rise in renewable energy sources, also known as green energy or clean energy. From environmental concerns to simple improvements in efficiency, renewable energy is an important part of home heating - both at present and as we look to the future. Heat pumps are designed to harness the energy nature generates for free, making it a far more eco-friendly and cheaper solution than conventional carbon-based fuels that have been popular to-date.
The ground, in particular, is a vast energy store. The sun’s heat is stored all year round just a few meters below the surface. Ground Source heat pumps make use of this stored energy to power heating systems within homes across the country. This is achieved using pipes that are planted into the ground itself, drawing the heat and transferring it to your home heating system. In addition, both air source heat pumps and water source heat pumps can be installed in homes, which use the air and bodies of water respectively to draw in heat and generate energy for your heating system.
The energy stored in the ambient air is also suitable for heating rooms and for producing hot water. Heat pumps operate efficiently even at low ambient temperatures. Up to 75 percent of your heating needs can be obtained directly from the environment and for free. So, only 25 percent needs to be added through conventional electricity.
The advantages of using environmental heat as an energy source:
- No CO2 or particle emissions generated
- Reduced impact on the environment
- Inexhaustible source of energy
- Reduced dependence on external energy suppliers
- Lower running costs that can reduce home energy bills
What you'll need:
- Good insulation of your building
- Larger radiators or underfloor heating for a low-temperature system
Energy sourced from the ground is obtained through the use of a ground source heat pump. This can be done in two ways. The first method uses heat close to the ground’s surface where the year-round temperature is almost uniform. Ground collectors are installed at a depth of 1.5m and these extract the ground heat. A combination of water and antifreeze pull heat from the ground and transfer this up into the system, which passes through a compressor to further generate heat for use in your home system.
The alternative method is heat extraction using space-saving bore holes. Special ground probes extract heat from as far as 100 metres deep into the earth, where the temperature is constantly 10°C all year long.
The advantages of geothermal heat:
- Good heat storage
- Year-round temperatures of 7-10 °C
- Open access land area (if using a surface collector)
- Geological survey
- Permission may be required
To learn more about this method of home heating, read our ground source heat pump guide.
To draw energy from a body of water, you’ll need to use a water source heat pump. They operate much in the same way to ground source heat pumps, whereby residual heat is taken into the installed pipes and transferred via a special refrigerant fluid into the main system. This is then processed and transformed into usable energy for your home heating system.
The main benefit of water-sourced energy is that the temperature of the water is usually incredibly consistent regardless of the season and outside temperature, thought this method of energy capture works best at water temperatures between 7 and 12 degrees celsius. Extracting heat from water requires access to lakes, wells or streams near the property, so isn’t suitable for a number of homes. Furthermore, the efficiency of water-sourced energy cannot be understated, as a large proportion of the energy required to heat a home comes directly from the water itself.
The advantages of using groundwater:
- Very efficient
- Good heat storage: maintains a temperature of 7-12°C on icy winter days
What you’ll need:
- Permission to construct a well and access the water source
- Access to high-quality groundwater deficient in minerals and lime
- An extraction licence may be required
To learn more about this method of home heating, read our water source heat pump guide.
Energy source: ambient air
Heat pumps can use the ambient air and make use of the stored energy to provide heating. Our modern heat pumps operate economically to produce heating even with an outside air temperature of as low as -15°C. The majority of air source heat pumps use an ‘air-to-water’ system, which works by transferring the heat energy generated into water, which is then distributed through your central heating system as normal.
The advantages of using ambient air:
- Excellent availability due to free access to the energy source
- One of the lowest investment costs for heat pumps
- Particularly suitable for modern low energy or well-insulated properties
What you’ll need:
- Suitable site for the outdoor unit
Learn more about this method of home heating, read our air source heat pump guide.
What should you choose?
There are many factors that influence which energy source and what type of heat pump system is best suited for you. There are different acquisition and operating costs for each type, and the individual heat pumps also differ in terms of permits, promotion, and the requirements of the building.
There is no standard solution when searching for the right heat pump system. But it’s not difficult to find the system that fits your needs. Your local Vaillant Advance Renewable Installers will be able to assist you in planning the optimum heating system.
Permits and subsidies
Whether you need a permit depends on the type of heat pump and your location.
In many cases you will be entitled to government funding assistance to support your alternative energy installation. Find out how you can enjoy the maximum funding.