Water Source Heat Pump
Water source heat pumps are a variant of heat pumps that generate heat from a body of water.
The system is efficient in extracting heat from a body of water, especially from water sources with a temperature up to 8 degrees Celsius.
This makes a water source heat pump a common heat pump in the UK, especially for homes near a sustainable source of water.
Heat pumps are also of different types: the system works either by pumping water from a river or by pumping a certain refrigerant fluid through the pipes in the water.
People often choose the latter for its cheaper price, fewer maintenance requirements, and also for its straightforward application.
Water source heat pumps are one of the oldest heating systems around, as they’ve been in use since the 1940s.
A similar heat pump to this system is the air-source heat pump.
While they both work similarly, the air source generates its heat from the outdoor air and is not as efficient as water source heat pumps.
Water source heat pumps have incredible efficiencies between 300% and 600%, while air source heat pumps only manage to garner efficiencies between 175% and 250%.
The running cost of water source heat pumps is a great attribute attracting homes and businesses.
High efficiencies are possible because the system takes one kilowatt of electricity and two kilowatts of heat from a body of water to produce three kilowatts of heat for heating the property.
How Much Does a Water Source Heat Pump Cost?
The initial costs of water source heat pumps are a great setback when planning to go for them.
The cost of a water source heat pump is not as cheap as an air source heat pump.
However, while the cost might not seem cheap, it’s smart to consider the long-term benefits that come with water source heat pumps.
While it may seem expensive as an investment on a heat pump, it should rather be considered on an investment.
The project has a payback of 5 to 10 years, depending on the model and size.
The least life expectancy of a water source heat pump is 15 years, meaning that even with the shortest lifespan, owners can enjoy further payback of up to 10 years.
However, with proper maintenance, a good water source heat pump should last for up to 50 years.
On how much impact water source heat pumps have on energy bills, the systems are efficient to reduce energy bills by at least 15%.
The high efficiencies are attributed to generating heat from waste energy to heat the property.
Pros of Water Source Heat Pumps
No doubt, water source heat pumps are a great choice for those on the hunt for something efficient to heat their properties.
Here’re some of the advantages that owners of water source heat pumps stand to enjoy:
Less carbon emission: the UK is now more interested in less-carbon heating systems, and water source heat pumps are a great choice for the target.
High efficiency: water source heat pumps run on electricity. Electricity helps the water circulate through the pipes in the water and generate heat.
The system can generate up to four times the amount of electricity consumed, meaning high efficiency.
Money-saving: one common importance of a renewable heating system is to help save money, and this is no different with a WSHP.
The system can save up between £400 and £2,000 per year, depending on the previous heating system.
Eligibility to RHI: it sounds interesting to learn that the UK government pays back on certain heating systems in form of incentives.
Renewable Heat Incentive is one of those incentives, which covers water source heating pumps.
Compatibility with other heating systems
Long lifespan: water source heat pumps have lifespans up to 50 years, however, with proper maintenance.
Cons of Water Source Heat Pumps
Truth is, water source heat pumps are a large project with large capital. As such, homeowners must consider the disadvantages to expect from the system, too.
Here’re the common cons of a WSHP.
High upfront costs: water source heat pumps are not a cheap investment as they require high upfront costs, with a payback period of around 5 years.
With this, air source water pumps are a better option for those on a low budget.
Hassle of installation: installing a water source heat pump is not straightforward and requires the service of an expert installer, which further increases the costs of installation.
Planning permission: installing this heating system requires special planning permissions, especially in the UK.
Water is required: the system is not a choice for homes without a sustainable source of water around them.
How Do Water Source Heat Pumps Work?
In a water source heat pump, heat pump units are connected through a loop that the water passes through.
The system extracts heat from the body of water by sending specially designed refrigerant through the piping system and sends the extracted heat to the exchanger that moves it into the central heating system
To help increase the efficiency of this system, an energy-efficient fluid heater heats the looped water to provide more heat.
The efficiency of this system also depends on the distance between the body of water and the property.
The shorter the distance, the higher the efficiency of the system, as this means reduced energy for pumping, thus decreasing energy bills and increasing savings.
In installations where the property is far from the water source, pipes with big diameters are recommended for efficiency shake.
However, the required paperwork and permissions should be put into consideration when planning such an installation.
Types of Water Source Heat Pumps
When choosing to install a water source heat pump, homeowners are faced with the obligation of choosing between the different types of water source heat pumps available.
It’s best to know which type is best for your home, depending on the closeness of the water source to the property and if the water source is surface level or underground.
WSHPs are majorly categorized into closed- and open- loops.
Closed-Loop Water Source Heat Pump Systems
This is most suitable for homes with a sustainable water source nearby.
A supply pipe runs from the house into the water source and forms circles under the water surface, which is to avoid freezing.
Open-Loop Water Source Heat Pump Systems
This system works perfectly for both well and surface bodies of water while the refrigerant fluid goes through the system.
The major difference between an open-loop system to a closed-loop is that the water used in open-loop systems is diverted to drainage, whereas, water circulates in a closed-loop system.
Unfortunately, this system requires that all codes and regulations regarding groundwater discharge be met.
Environmental Legislation to Keep in Mind
Before considering a water source heat pump, homeowners must meet certain environmental regulations.
These regulations are more in open-loop systems, as open-loop systems alter the temperature of the groundwater.
Depending on your choice of system, installing a water source heat pump requires obtaining certain licenses.
For example, thermal and hydrogeology properties must be investigated before an installation takes place, which requires an abstraction license from the Environment Authority.
Water Source Heat Pump Incentives in the UK
The UK government is making efforts to motivate homeowners and business owners to venture into installing renewable heating systems.
This is to help reduce carbon emissions in the UK.
Over the years, the government has been giving grants and incentives to homes and businesses with certain renewable heating systems, such as water source heat pumps.
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is one common incentive for installing a water source heat pump.
The government’s financial support started in mid-2011 and has provided funds to many UK homes and businesses.
Savings with WSHPs are on the high, with an increase in oil and gas prices.
Over the past two years, gas prices have gone up to 30%, while electricity prices have increased by 35% in just a year.
These prices are expected to increase further, hence an increase in the savings with a WSHP.
Can The Water Source Freeze?
Water source heat pumps are prone to freezing, especially when the water source is smaller to the heat demand of the property.
When the water source is too small, the temperature of heat extracted from the water is small, and the system doesn’t work efficiently – a potential cause of freezing.
Installers are trained to inspect the size of the water source and know what size of water source heat pump is suitable for such a water source.
Water Source Heat Pump Costs
Again, the initial cost of installing a WSHP might discourage prospective owners from going for the system.
The upfront costs of a water source heat pump are higher than most other heating systems.
However, water source heat pumps offer several advantages and the running costs are extremely low compared to their counterparts.
While installing a water source heat pump might cost, low running costs mean diminished energy bills.
Who Is Water Source Heat Pump Suitable For?
It’s worth mentioning that a water source heat pump can also be utilized to cool the temperature of a property during the hot winter.
With this, water source heat pumps are a great choice for homes and businesses looking for a system that can provide heating and cooling simultaneously.
Water Source Heat Pump: Running Costs
Four factors commonly contribute to the running cost of a water source heat pump.
They’re the property’s heat demands, the property’s size, the efficiency of the system, and the temperature of the water source.
The efficiency of a heating system is represented by COP.
The COP of a system means how many kilowatts of heat the system will generate with one kilowatt of electricity.
Most water source heat pumps have COPs ranging from 3 to 4.3.
A WSHP with a COP of 4 means the system will generate 4 kilowatts of heat with 1 kilowatt of electricity.
A system with a higher COP means the system will generate more heat with little electricity.
With this, such a system requires lower energy to run than a system with a lower COP.
Also, the lower the energy consumption, the higher the money-saving capacity of the system, hence low running costs.
It’s also worth noting that the standard of installation of a system contributes to the efficiency of the installed system and the running costs.
A system that is well installed will run well with high efficiency and help save money.
A faulty installation is prone to malfunctioning with low efficiency, meaning increased running costs.
Do water source heat pumps need servicing?
Generally, how well a heat pump system is maintained contributes to its lifespan. A well-maintained heat pump lasts longer than a neglected one.
Data shows that the energy consumption of a well-maintained system is 10% to 25% lower than that of a neglected system.
Hence, maintenance is a crucial aspect of a water source heat pump.
Proper maintenance and regular servicing help keep the system in good working condition.
This routine also helps ensure the system components don’t develop faults often. Routine service helps know of potential faults in a heat pump.
Can I troubleshoot and maintain my heat pump myself?
Maintaining your heat pump is what you can do yourself. This is especially necessary to prevent common issues that occur in heat pumps.
However, heat pump preventative maintenance requires the job of a trained professional.
It’s best to hire a trained engineer to carry out the task for you rather than towing with dangerous refrigerant chemicals and high voltage electricity.
Worse of all, doing this task yourself might cause more damage to the system, which is the last thing you want.
As such, routine maintenance service should be left in the hands of an HVAC professional.
How often to service heat pumps?
How often to service your heat pump depends on how often you use the system.
If you consistently depend on your heat pump for your heat needs, you need servicing more often than a home with an alternative heating system.
Generally, servicing a heat pump once a year is a good way to go, but ‘twice a year’ is more suitable for homes without an alternative heating system.