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Energy Saving Trust heat pump study concludes efficiency is improving

A study by The Energy Savings Trust has reported that heat pump performance and positive customer feedback had improved significantly since its previous study, published in 2010

The study (attached), entitled ‘The Heat is On: heat pump trials phase 2’ was undertaken from 2010–2013, focusing on 44 heat pumps to investigate the variation in performance shown in Phase 1. Phase 2 included a number of sites that performed poorly in Phase 1. Some well-performing sites were also selected in an effort to create exemplar sites.

Results from the study revealed that homes best suited for heat pump installations could earn savings and income of around £1,350 a year on air source heat pumps and around £3,000 a year on ground source heat pumps.

Jaryn Bradford, senior technical manager at the Energy Saving Trust, said: “Based upon the results of the study, we are convinced that heat pumps can play a significant role in providing an effective heating solution for homes and reducing carbon emissions.

“From the study, it is clear that heat pumps are sensitive to design, commissioning and how the householder uses the system.”

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker added that the study showed high standard renewable heating technologies could save households “significant money” on their energy bills and “produce clean energy at the same time”.

Under Government schemes and grants 7,500 heat pumps have been installed in the UK.

Key findings of the report

  • Heat pumps can provide an efficient alternative for householders - The technical data obtained and the users’ feedback indicates that well installed and operated heat pumps can perform to a very high standard in UK homes.
  • Heat pumps are sensitive to design and commissioning, but standards have improved - The field trial provides early indications that the reasons for underperformance are understood and have been addressed by the new MCS installer standards.
  • Customers provide positive feedback but require more information - The majority of customers were satisfied with the heating and hot water provided by their systems, but there were varying levels of understanding. Initial interaction with the supply chain is important in developing customer understanding of the system.
  • Different aspects of a heat pump system impact performance - Based upon a number of performance calculations, different aspects of the heat pump system can impact efficiency. Customers may benefit from feedback about which parts of the system impact operating efficiency, particularly auxiliary and immersion heaters.
  • Various control strategies can result in a high performing heat pump - Customers utilise different measures of control to meet heating and hot water needs. The majority of systems were run continuously using weather compensation and internal thermostats. A number of well-performing systems were controlled non-continuously and delivered high levels of customer satisfaction.
  • The differences in measured performance suggest that behaviour impacts heat pump systems - A broader system boundary, which incorporates auxiliary and immersion heaters and pumps, etc., enables the impacts of control and use to be calculated. SPF H4 appears to be the most relevant method to calculate performance as it is less sensitive to end-user hot water usage patterns than system efficiency.

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