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EST study shows improved heat pump performance

A new study from the Energy Saving Trust (7 August) has found that the performance and efficiency of heat pumps has improved following recommendations to design, installation and operation.
EST study shows improved heat pump performance
Technical data obtained from an in-depth study of heat pumps at sites across the UK has found that well-installed and operated heat pumps perform to a very high standard in UK homes.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, homes best suited for heat pump installations could expect to 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.

The success of the heat pumps' performance during the study was underpinned by the experience of the users. Eighty per cent were satisfied with their heat pump's performance, while over three quarters (77 per cent) would recommend a heat pump to a friend, mainly because of its efficiency and running costs of the system.

The results build upon Phase 1 of the research, released by the Energy Saving Trust in 2010, which identified recommendations for the industry and end-users to achieve better performance from the technology. The results from Phase 1 showed wide variation, with the best-performing systems being those that were deemed to be properly designed and installed.

The latest study, conducted between 2010 and 2013, investigated these variations in performance, with interventions carried out to achieve improved performance from the heat pump installations. Overall 20 of the 32 heat pumps undergoing interventions between Phase 1 and this study achieved improvements in performance with the remainder achieving similar or slightly lower performance.

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. However, the performance monitoring trials have provided early indications that the introduction of improved installation standards, amongst other things, will lead to improved performance.'

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: 'This study is a positive step forward. It shows that high standard renewable heating technologies can save households significant money on their energy bills, and help to produce clean energy at the same time...Energy Saving Trust's encouraging findings will certainly help to bolster consumer confidence in investing in this innovative technology.'

The latest heat pump study was supported by funding from DECC, the Energy Technologies Institute, EDF Energy, Npower, British Gas, Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), E.On UK, NIE Energy, Danfoss UK, NIBE and Mitsubishi Electric.

BEAMA has also welcomed the Energy Saving Trust's report. Marketing director Kelly Butler said: 'This latest report gives real confidence to consumers that heat pumps offer a reliable alternative to traditional off-gas heat systems.

'Installers and designers are all working to high quality standards under MCS, and with strong links to the forthcoming RHI, this robust quality scheme will deliver great incentive and fuel savings benefits as the report shows.'

Mr Butler continued: 'EST has done a great job in working with industry to identify and plug the knowledge gaps for applying heat pump technology. Now we can confidently look forward to a strong future for heat pumps in the UK.'

The HPA (Heat Pump Association), with some reservations, welcomes the findings of the Phase 2 of the Energy Savings Trust Field Trials.

However, it has expressed concern that the results could be misunderstood to be representative of current practice. HPA says that despite ‘interventions’ none of the sites are necessarily installed to current MCS standards.

HPA said: 'EST , DECC and their partners have produced a thorough analysis of installations which have always been recognised to be far from ideal, and the findings demonstrate conclusively that heat pumps are now a key component of UK heating.'

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12 August 2013


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