An air-to-water heat pump is an extremely energy-efficient way of heating your home while also reducing your household’s carbon emissions – here’s what you need to know about this amazing technology
If you’re thinking about installing a heat pump in your home, you are most certainly not alone. Around Ireland, homeowners are looking at ways of investing in the energy efficiency of their homes by embracing new technologies, including heat pumps.
Changing consumer behaviours are largely being driven by Government regulation. The Climate Action Plan has called for a 40% reduction in carbon emissions from Ireland’s residential sector by 2030. Hundreds of thousands of households will need to be retrofitted to achieve a better BER (building energy rating) and it’s estimated that almost 90% of these retrofits will involve installing a heat pump.
All new builds, meanwhile, must comply with ever stricter building regulations which prioritise renewable energies and ultra-efficient heating systems, including heat pumps. All new builds must be highly insulated and require low temperature to heat the building – a key feature of heat pumps – with no combustion of fossil fuels to ensure better air quality in the home.
What is an air-to-water heat pump?
As with all new technologies, it’s best to start with the basics. A heat pump is an electrical device that takes heat from one place and transfers it to another place, in the most efficient and sustainable way. An air-to-water heat pump draws heat from the outside air (yes, even when it’s cold outside!) and uses it to provide heating and hot water inside the home.
Radiators work very well with heat pumps and are commonly used in both new builds and existing homes. Many heat pump customers are also opting for underfloor heating, this is mostly in new homes with tiled or modern floor finishes like polished concrete.
How does the technology work?
There are three essential components to an air-to-water heat pump: the outdoor unit, the indoor unit, and the refrigerant. Here’s how these components work together:
· The outdoor unit works as an evaporator, extracting energy from the outside air and absorbing it into the liquid refrigerant where it is transformed into gas.
· The indoor unit compresses the gas, which raises its temperature, then exchanges the heat from the gas into the heating system. The gas returns to a liquid state.
· The expansion valve lowers the pressure of the refrigerant, making it evaporate, and the cycle begins all over again.
Daikin air-to-water heat pumps are designed here in Europe so they are suitable for all European climates, including Ireland’s mild, moist and changeable weather, all year round. Furthermore, heat pumps are ideal both for new builds and retrofits, where, as mentioned, the technology will play a key role in helping Ireland achieve its climate targets.
What are the benefits of an air-to-water heat pump?
There are many different types of air-to-water heat pump systems, and we will look in more detail at the various options and configurations in one of our upcoming blogs, but broadly speaking, the benefits of installing a heat pump include increased energy efficiency, greater comfort, better air quality, and reduced carbon emissions.
To understand how these benefits are achieved, we must look at the ‘coefficient of performance’ (COP) of a heat pump. This term describes the amount of energy used to run the heat pump, and the corresponding amount of energy produced by that heat pump.
Daikin heat pumps can deliver a COP of up to 4.17, which means for every 1kW of electrical energy used, 4kW of useful energy is produced, which results in a net 3kW of useful energy being ‘free’ generated. Because the device is powered by 75% renewable energy (air) and only 25% electricity, a heat pump is the most cost-efficient and sustainable heating solution available today.
A heat pump can provide all the heating and hot water for a warm and comfortable home, 24 hours a day. Significantly more efficient than traditional boilers, heat pumps require only connection to the National Grid – there’s no fuel involved as an air source heat pump only needs outside air to operate!
How much does a heat pump cost?
As with all building or renovation work, there are many factors to consider when it comes to the overall cost of a heat pump. There is the price of the unit itself, and as we’ve mentioned, our Altherma range of air-to-water heat pumps includes a wide variety of models to suit all household needs.
If you are thinking about a heat pump, you must also think about additional features such as underfloor heating – a very popular add-on for many of our customers – while the size and configuration of your home will also come into play when estimating the cost of installing a heat pump.
Depending on the age of your home, you may need to boost your insulation levels to ensure your heat pump can operate at 100% efficiency. You can apply for up to €6,500 towards a heat pump investment including other energy upgrades as part of the SEAI Home Energy Grant.
Your local installer/contractor will work with you to assess your individual needs and provide you with a cost estimate – our network of Daikin-approved residential dealers is a good place to start your search.
Are heat pumps easy to install and maintain?
Installing an air source heat pump is relatively uncomplicated. You will first need to contact your local installer/contractor, who will manage the installation of the device.
When it comes to installing your heat pump, there are specific considerations to take into account. Your house floor area and insulation levels will determine the size of the indoor unit, while the location of the outside unit (all ‘split’ air-to-water heat pumps include an outdoor unit) will depend on available space, drainage, access and other factors.
Going forward, your local installer will also be your first port of call when it comes to maintenance and servicing. They will explain how to get your heat pump running 100% efficiently and how to operate the controls for maximum performance, including via a dedicated app on your smartphone. You will also have your Daikin warranty and our acclaimed ‘Stand By Me’ customer support service for added peace of mind.
A smart new way of heating your home
Installing an air-to-water heat pump in your home is a big step towards more sustainable living, not to mention reduced energy and running costs. Adopting a heat pump requires a basic change in the way you manage your heating system: instead of switching your boiler on and off as needed, you set your thermostat to the required setting and simply let the heat pump turn itself on and off in order to maintain that temperature.
If you’d like to find out more about how air-to-water heat pumps work, what the benefits are, and whether your home is suitable for a heat pump, start with your local supplier/installer – they’ll be delighted to walk you through every aspect of the technology. You’ll also find lots more about our Altherma air-to-water heat pumps here.
Our team will be at SelfBuild Live this weekend (5-7 May 2023)! Be sure to drop by our stand H19 with any questions you have, and come along to the Daikin Theatre to hear from a range of self-build experts.
Thinking about installing a heat pump for more sustainable living? Find out how a home energy grant can help reduce your energy costs and carbon emissions here.