Promoted Content: How Heat Pumps Could Play a Big Part in Saving the World

In order to save the planet, we need to make smarter decisions about our energy usage and work together as a society towards sustainable solutions. Collectively switching from traditional fossil-fuelled heating systems to heat pumps could play a major role in combating climate change and therefore protecting the world’s ecosystems.

About 40 per cent of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions are a result of heating powered by fossil fuels. Of course, how much of your emissions come from heating your home depends on where in the world you live.

In the UK, it is estimated that more than a fifth of our carbon emissions come from fossil fuels used in our homes. This makes it one of the most polluting sectors in the country. Furthermore, roughly 85% of British homes use gas boilers for heating and hot water, so it is easy to see why this is the case.

According to numbers from the Energy Savings Trust, the average UK household generated 2,690 kg of carbon dioxide from space and hot water heating in 2020. If the UK government wishes to reach Net Zero by 2050, then this will need to be reduced to 140 kg per household.

Thankfully, gas boilers are not the only option when it comes to heating our homes. If we can shift to heat pumps and other renewable energy solutions, it will have a major positive impact on the UK’s carbon footprint and help reach our net zero target by 2050.

But why are heat pumps an integral part of this solution? To understand why heat pumps are part of the future solution you need to understand how they work.

There are three main different types of heat pumps, namely, air source, ground source, and water source heat pumps. The most common of these is the air source heat pump.

An air source heat pump takes heat from the outside air and absorbs it into a loop with refrigerant fluid. After the heat is extracted, it passes through a compressor which provides the pressure to move the refrigerant and results in a higher temperature. Another important component of the air source heat pump is the heat exchanger. Its job is to transfer the heat through piping to the required locations such as radiators and underfloor heating systems.

This results in heat pumps having impressive efficiency levels of 300–400%, which is about 3 or 4 times higher than modern boilers’ efficiency ratings. Furthermore, heat pumps can also be used for cooling your homes (similar to an air conditioner), which is ideal as the UK summers are getting warmer.

However, one caveat to this is that in order to move air from one place to another, heat pumps require electricity. Since the majority of electricity in the UK is currently produced from burning fossil fuels, this means operating your heat pump will still release some carbon emissions. However, there are solutions to this.

Heat pumps are also compatible with electricity from renewable sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines. The most direct way to ensure your electricity is renewable is by installing your own solar panels. However, if this is not a possibility for you, you can also opt for a green energy provider to increase the amount of renewable energy circulating the national grid.

One downside to heat pumps is their initial cost. New boilers cost significantly less than heat pumps, which explains why this is currently the most popular heating system amongst UK homes. However, you shouldn’t let this deter you from installing a heat pump completely, as there are ways to cut the upfront cost. And due to the high efficiency ratings, you can also save massively on your heating bills.

It is clear that the UK government also believes in making the switch from gas boilers to renewable heating solutions such as heat pumps, as there are plans to phase gas boilers out in the coming years. And in order to make heat pumps relatively more accessible, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme was introduced in April 2022 to help with the initial costs.

Through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, you can receive up to £5,000 or £6,000 if you wish to install an air source heat pump or ground source heat pump, respectively. However, this grant will only be available for 3 years so longer term solutions to this issue are required.

Tackling climate change is unfortunately an ongoing issue, however, with these advancements in technology and financial support from the government it is possible that we will see a major shift in the UK’s domestic heating systems over the coming years. Heat pumps are one of the best solutions to helping us reduce our carbon emissions and reach net zero by 2050.

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