There should be two elements that determine sustainable energy: it must not have an adverse effect on the environment and it must be produced in such a way that it doesn’t compromise resources for future generations. So what is a renewable energy heat source?
Renewable energy comes from natural resources (wind, solar, hydro, etc.). Sustainable energy is the concept of conserving that energy and making it work more efficiently. The benefit of an air source heat pump (ASHP) is twofold: the energy source is renewable while generating sustainable energy.
Let’s break that statement down. An ASHP uses renewable energy (air) to generate and provide heat. It also produces sustainable energy because it generates far more heating energy from the same power input than traditional heating systems such as gas, oil and electric heaters. This is a great example of a renewable energy heat source.
In order for an ASHP to transfer energy from ambient air outside into your home it needs auxiliary energy to make this happen. This auxiliary energy, in most cases, is electricity. In order for this to be classified as sustainable means that the power input to operate the heat pump should be significantly lower than the output capacity.
To have a measurement metric, we have the coefficient of performance (COP) which is the ratio of heat output to energy input. Essentially, COP is an indicator of energy efficiency. Traditional heating systems, like an oil boiler, will have a COP of less than 1 because there is energy loss when the heating energy is processed.
Climate conditions, weather and technology play a part in this. The efficiency of air source heat pumps drops significantly in colder, wetter climates because there’s less warmth to pull from the air.
COP will vary based on the air source heat pump you install, but generally they will have a COP that’s three times higher than traditional heating sources.
I strongly believe that to slow down the rate of climate change and improve energy efficiency, renewable energy sources are critical and should be at the forefront of government policies.
Heat pumps use renewable energy as heat source and are rapidly becoming more efficient and cheaper, and their share of total energy consumption is increasing throughout the world.
There are skeptics as to whether ASHPs can be effective in the UK. Check out our winter air source heat pump review.