Each year it seems our summers are getting hotter. So even in countries where we previously survived the heat by opening the windows wide on a warm sunny day, more and more of the world’s population are now finding they need to look for other ways to keep the temperature in their homes tolerable. The first thought for most people is to get an air conditioner. However, this is not the only option, and despite the name, you can also consider heat pumps for cooling your home.
What is a heat pump?
Rather than generating heat from burning fuel, a heat pump transfers heat energy from one place to another. So, while typically a heat pump is used to extract heat from outside, bringing it inside for heating and hot water, some also offer the opposite, cooling your house in the process. A heat pump must be connected to emitters inside your home to transfer the extracted heat and the type of emitter will determine the functionality and efficiency of the heat pump for either cooling or heating the air or heating water.
Different types of heat pumps
As the names suggest, an air-to-water heat pump extracts energy from the air and a ground source heat pump extracts energy from the ground. As ground temperatures remain reasonably stable, these are extremely efficient and reliable year-round. Both types of heat pumps can be combined with different emitters such as radiators, underfloor heating and fan coil units, also called heat pump convectors.
Another type is the hybrid heat pump. This uses air-to-water heat pump technology alongside a gas condensing boiler. It determines the most economical or energy efficient combination automatically. This variant can also be used with a multi-split system for cooling, heating and hot water.
How does a heat pump cool?
From a technical standpoint, a heat pump can cool by reversing the process of transferring heat from one place to another. Not all heat pumps have the capability of cooling, so before choosing a heat pump model make sure to look for the specific one on your chosen manufacturer’s website or by consulting your installer. Once the technical part is sorted, it all comes down to which emitters it is connected to. While some emitters only have heating functionalities ie. radiators, others can offer more flexibility, such as heat pump convectors (aka. fan coil units) which are great for cooling and good for heating.
What heat pump emitters can be used for cooling?
As already said above, heat pumps are compatible with a range of both heating and cooling emitters, which can maintain a comfortable temperature in your home throughout the year. In colder weather the heat pump is set so that the various emitters will heat your home, while in the warmer weather a cooling effect can be achieved, potentially via those same emitters.
Fan coil units or Heat Pump Convectors
The basis of a heat pump convector (also known as a fan coil unit) is a heat exchanger (the coil) with a fan. This is generally considered as the most versatile emitter when it comes to heat pumps. When set to cool, the heat pump will pump chilled water through the heat pump convector. As the fans draw warm air from the room over the heat exchanger, the cold water within cools the air. This cooled air is then dispersed back out into the room, reducing the temperature.
Underfloor piping system
Everyone is familiar with the concept of underfloor heating, however, underfloor cooling is also possible. A heat pump can be set to pass chilled water through the underfloor pipes keeping the floor area cool. As warm air from the room passes over it, the cooler floor surface absorbs the heat energy from the air, reducing the temperature in the room. The equal distribution and stable temperature created by underfloor cooling make it an appealing choice. However there are some limitations in using underfloor piping for cooling. Most importantly it is necessary to prevent the formation of condensation on the floor. The other consideration is whether having a cold floor is comfortable in your home.
Some hybrid heat pumps (a combination of gas boiler and air-to-water heat pumps) also have the capability of connecting to an outdoor multi-unit. This creates a system combining indoor air conditioners with other, more traditional heating or hot water emitters. Air conditioners are most commonly known for their cooling functionalities but can also be a solid choice for indoor heating.
Is a heat pump an efficient method for cooling your home?
As energy prices soar across Europe, you might think now is not the time to invest in a new heating and cooling system. However, a heat pump is actually a very efficient solution and now, more than ever, is a good time to consider installing one.
Heat pumps operate by using renewable energy from the environment. With an air-to-water heat pump you can expect that it will operate with about 75% renewable energy, a free and unlimited supply, and only around 25% of the energy needed to run the unit will come from electricity. Ground source heat pumps are even more efficient, with 80% of renewable energy being extracted from the ground and just 20% electricity needed. For every 3 to 4 kilowatts of heat, 1 kilowatt of electricity is used. This translates to a performance efficiency of approximately 300-400% when compared to a standard fossil fuel system.
Further advanced technological solutions have helped Daikin heat pumps to achieve up to A+++ energy efficiency ratings. For example, rather than the motor stopping and starting throughout the cooling process, the use of inverter technology means the speed of the compressor, fan and water pump all adjust as needed to maintain the required temperature, making it far more energy efficient.
Top 5 benefits of using a heat pump for your home
1. Heat pumps are energy efficient, helping to reduce your fuel bill.
2. You can reduce your carbon footprint. As the majority of the energy used by a heat pump is from renewable sources, there is no direct use of fossil fuels, so no local carbon dioxide or nitrogen oxide emissions resulting in a much lower environmental impact.
3. Heat pumps have a long lifespan.
4. Heat pumps are easy to use with simple controls. Daikin units can be connected to your home network so you can use the Onecta app to control the thermostat and set timers for each room. You can even use voice control with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
5. Not only great for cooling your home, a heat pump is an all-in-one year-round home comfort solution that can cool, heat, and provide hot water.
Daikin has a comprehensive range of high performance, energy efficient heat pumps, with choices to fit both your needs and your home.
Find out more about the Daikin range of heat pumps here.