Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pumping heat

Great incentive:  It's unusual to feel that the government is doing something right but with the Renewable Heat Incentive, they certainly seem to be heading in the right direction in so far as encouraging renewable heat sources are concerned.

Heat pumps away!  Suddenly heat pumps seem a very sensible investment with the proposed incentives of about 7.5 pence returned to the householder per kilowatt hour of electricity expended to power them. So we're going for an 8.5kW Ecodan air source heat pump supplied by Ice Energy.We ordered the pump a few days ago and the first tranche of bits and pieces - the hot water storage tank and various other control devices to be installed by a plumber - are due to arrive later this week. Then it's up to us to modify the antiquated house heating system, currently powered by oil, so that it is ready for the actual installation and commissioning of the pump itself. We've found a plumber who is reputed to be very good and who has actual experience of air source heat pumps. He's paying us a preliminary visit tomorrow during which we can decide what we need to do and what we perhaps ought to do. Because the output water temperature of the ASHP is lower than that of an oil boiler, some radiators may need to be changed to a larger size.

The long road: So this is another step along the long and difficult road to carbon neutrality. The pump does, of course, use electricity but its coefficient of performance is around 3 (depending on the outside air temperature). That means we get 3kW of heat for every 1kW of electricity used. It becomes carbon neutral if we either buy our electricity from a supplier like Good Energy or generate some of it ourselves. We've rejected the wind turbine option for the obvious reason of lack of wind so we're now looking seriously at photovoltaics. The British government are offering major incentives in the form of feed-in tariffs which for us would 'generate' 41.3 pence for every kilowatt hour our PV array generates, either for us or which is fed into the national grid. It is really beginning to make sense to invest money in these technologies... much safer than stock markets.