Heat Pumps FAQ's

Northern Energy Solutions have compiled a very comprehensive list of questions that we often get asked. If you cannot find an answer to your question please don't hesitate to contact us by phone or email.

Q. Does it really work?
Yes, they simply move energy from one place to another. A fridge works on the same principle. For example, a bottle of white wine brought home straight from your local supermarket is at room temperature. If you put it in your fridge and wait a few hours it will be cold enough to drink. If you touch the back of your fridge during that time you will feel heat. The fridge has taken the low temperature energy out of the wine, compressed it up to a higher temperature and in effect has warmed the kitchen up slightly. By using the same process both Air Source and Ground Source Heat Pumps remove energy from a source and transfer it into your building. The sun naturally replenishes the energy removed from the air and ground.

Q. How is the heat transferred into a building?
The earth, water and air have the ability to absorb and store heat from the sun. For example, in the case of a ground source system this heat is extracted from the earth using a ground loop. In the case of an air source heat pump this harnesses solar energy found in the outdoor air. With this system there is no need for digging or drilling and installation is very quick and simple. It is ideal for urban sites where there is very little ground space. The ground loop is a continuous closed loop of special pipe buried around the building. A mixture of water and food grade anti-freeze is circulated through the buried pipes where it absorbs heat from the surrounding earth. The ground loop is connected to a heat pump inside a building that takes heat out of the circulating mixture and transfers it into a heating circuit and hot water tank.

Q. How are the loops or air units installed?
The special ground loops are either buried in trenches at a depth of 1m or installed in boreholes that range from 25-150m deep. They can also be placed in lakes or ponds. Each method is as efficient as the other. Available space determines which method is used. Where there is no space and drilling or digging is too expensive we can install air-handling units to collect solar energy from the air. These are slightly less efficient but can be installed just about anywhere and specified to over compensate as required.

Q. How much loop will I need in the ground?
That depends on the energy requirements of your building, where you are in the country and the type of ground you have. This will come from the specialised design work we will carry out as part of your project. However, the larger the building generally means more energy is required thus more loop in the ground. Air source heat pumps do not need and loop system in the ground.

Q. How energy efficient is a heat pump?
Heat Pump Systems can be over six times as energy efficient as the most efficient gas or oil boiler. Instead of burning a fuel and producing the associated emissions they simply move energy that already exists, stored solar energy. If you compare their performance against solar panels fitted to roofs, both air source and ground source heat pumps can produce over six times more renewable energy. This is because they provide central heating whereas solar panels can't.

Q. Where should I put a heat pump?
Either in your utility room, basement or even out in the garage.

Q. Do they make much noise?
No, they hum like a large refrigerator. The units we supply have had many years of research and development that has included major noise and vibration reduction.

Q. Can under floor heating be used with a heat pump?
Yes under floor heating, radiators or a mix of both for heat distribution in your building. In commercial buildings, air distributed systems can be used.

Q. Will it heat a building on the coldest winter day?
Yes it will. Thousands of these systems have been installed for many years in some of the most northern parts of Scandinavia where the winters are very hard and long. The key is the design and specification process so the system provides enough energy for the application.

Q. Will it provide enough hot water for baths showers & domestic hot water?
With the correct design and equipment, all domestic hot water requirements would be provided by the air source or ground source heat pump throughout the year. Heat pumps produce water at a lower temperature than boiler systems. Instead of water that may be scalding water produced is hot enough for all normal domestic requirements. You will notice that you do not have to add as much cold water to your baths and showers. The aim is to save money and energy with either an air source or ground source system. There is no point in taking water to temperatures that can't be used anyway (above 55°C).

Q. Can comfort cooling be generated from an Heat Pump System?
Yes, this can be achieved as passive and active cooling from and air source heat pump system.

Q. Can I heat a swimming pool?
Yes, a system can be designed purely for an indoor or outdoor pool or integrate it with a heating and hot water system for the whole of your property.

Q. Will it save money and be more energy efficient
Yes, it will against all types of fuels including natural gas and other carbon producing alternatives. The amounts depend on how well your system is designed. With new buildings it is very easy to evaluate.

Q. Can a system be placed in an old building?
Yes, systems have been installed into all types of building that are working effectively.  More engineering design is required on older and complex buildings than newly constructed buildings.