Race to build affordable heat pumps for Britain’s homes hots up, but will the public warm to them?
Heat pumps are not a new technology. The basic chemistry behind it was first demonstrated in the 1750s, while 100 years later the first working heat pump was built.
They work much like a refrigerator or an air conditioner in the opposite direction. A cold refrigerant extracts heat from the outside air, the ground or the water, it is then compressed with electricity, whereby its temperature is further increased, the hot refrigerant then heats a water source.
They are able to achieve exceptional levels of efficiency, which has made them the preferred method of decarbonization for most climate experts.
“You can now start making emissions savings with heat pumps,” said Dr. David Joffe of the Climate Change Committee, the independent body that advises the government on meeting its emissions targets. “The technology is available and given the importance of the 2020s in achieving the goals, we shouldn’t wait for technologies that aren’t.”
However, significant hurdles remain, not least the upfront costs. Greg Jackson, the founder and CEO of Octopus Energy, told The Telegraph that much of this was because “the current setup is almost artisanal. Many installations have so far been tailor-made for large, complex houses. “
The company plans to cut the cost of an installation to around £ 4,000-5,000 within 18 months. Most of these savings are achieved simply by standardizing the installation process and purchasing parts on a large scale.
The two houses in the warehouse – one by 1970s standards and the other by early 2000s standards – make up about 40 percent of all homes in the UK, according to Octopus Energy. Heating experts operate “F1 pit stop-like systems” on the buildings in order to perfect the process.