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Could heat pump hybrid heating systems provide an option for a greater number of properties in the UK? Hamid Salimi, product specialist – heating and renewables at Daikin, looks at the factors that could drive their increased uptake and the opportunities for installers.
Heat pump heating technology has been growing in popularity for a number of years, boosted recently by the increased pressure to decarbonise heating in line with the aim for the UK to reach net zero by 2050 and the government’s established target to phase out the installation of new gas boilers.
The role heat pumps can play in reducing carbon emissions from homes is clear. However, a heat pump alone may not be the right option for some customers and properties. For example, heat pumps may not be suitable for older homes with poor levels of insulation that cannot be improved. Much of the UK housing stock is more than a century old with 4.9 million homes that are currently occupied built before 1919. Also, some customers may want to reduce their carbon footprint and energy usage but are reluctant to switch to a fully renewable heating system. In these situations, hybrid heating can provide the solution.
A hybrid heat pump combines air-to-water heat pump technology with a gas condensing boiler to achieve high levels of efficiency and performance. These hybrid systems can operate in heat pump only, gas boiler only or hybrid modes depending on the conditions. To make it simple for homeowners, the system can automatically switch between the operating modes as required to ensure efficiency and deliver guaranteed comfort. Furthermore, some products, such as Daikin Altherma hybrid heat pumps, can also factor in electricity and gas prices for to utilise the optimum combination of technologies.
Typically, the system will operate primarily in heat pump mode during the warmer months to deliver high levels of energy efficiency, with the gas boiler used to boost the system output when the temperature drops. When in heat pump mode, a hybrid system can achieve up to A++ energy rating and deliver 160% efficiency – it outputs 60% more energy than the input energy source. In practice, hybrid heat solutions have been proven to deliver up to a 50% reduction in energy bills for homeowners.
Best of both worlds
In addition to a ‘true’ hybrid system, there is also the option to install a heat pump alongside an existing gas boiler in a ‘bi-valent’ system. This allows switching between the heat-pump and boiler but does not offer the option of running the two simultaneously. However, this may suit customers who do not want to replace a relatively new boiler but still want to benefit from renewable energy.
For installers, heat pumps offer a significant business opportunity to expand the services they can offer to customers. Hybrid systems increase these opportunities still further by providing a renewable heating option that meets the needs of more customers and can be installed in a wider range of properties.
To take advantage of this growing market and prepare for the future, installers should look for training courses that can provide them with the skills and knowledge required. Some leading manufacturers, such as Daikin, are offering free training on these systems. This will not only help individual businesses but also ensure the industry has the required skills to meet the quickly growing demand.
Heat pumps will have a key role in delivering renewable energy for domestic heating and hot water and therefore reducing carbon emissions. For many properties and customers, a hybrid system that combines the advantages of renewable heating and traditional gas boilers is the most suitable. With the right training, installers can benefit from the increased interest in this technology and prepare for future changes in the market.
To find out more about Daikin Altherma hybrid heat pumps and training opportunities, visit www.daikin.co.uk