Fri, 9 Dec 2011 10:10:00 GMT
Whilst free electricity from solar is great what we really need this time of year is free heat, it's just a shame that the renewable heat incentive (RHI) is unlikely to spawn any free heating offers. There are parts of Iceland where homes get free heating from all the geo-thermal energy, they even heat the streets! In the UK however the closest we will probably get is free heat from heat pumps.
If you haven't head of the technology it's not because it is anything new, in fact most offices and many commercial buildings use heat pumps for heating and cooling. For domestic properties it is a relatively new idea but didn't initially catch on because of the initial costs and the fact that they look pretty ugly. Technology has moved on and now it is possible to get heat pump heaters that hang on your wall and look like very much like electric heaters.
They come in various guises with the most popular being the air source heat pump but for larger homes and new build homes the more efficient ground source heat pumps are becoming more popular. A heat pump runs on electricity and works much like a fridge in reverse. It takes heat from the outside and pumps it into your home, so if the unit used 1 kilowatt of electricity to run it could output 3 kilowatts of heat. They can also generally be used in the summer for cooling which makes them very versatile.
The latest generation of air source heat pumps are the twin duct heat pumps that are much more compact, quieter and run more efficiently. There main selling point however is that they are not bulky and are easier to install which means that they can be fitted to most homes on an outward facing wall (not on an internal wall).
The RHI scheme is not set to officially start until 2012 for residential properties; it is already running for commercial buildings. Until the scheme starts proper there are grants available, these are in addition to the RHI payments you will get later should you invest in heating technologies such as air source heat pumps. The current grants for air heat pumps are £850 which is paid towards the cost of the system. In 2012 you will be paid for the amount of heat your unit produces much like how the FIT scheme works.
It is probably unlikely that you would want to replace your current central heating system with a heat pump system unless it was outdated and was due for replacing. These type of heaters are however ideal for installing in rooms that do not currently have any heating. They are also an ideal option for conservatory heating as they can be set to heat or cool to a specific temperature. They are also an efficient way of heating as they are able to take heat from outside and use it to warm the inside of your home.
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