Amongst the challenges facing climate policy in the Isle of Man, heat decarbonisation is a key priority. Heat pumps are already a well-established technology that can immediately and substantially reduce emissions from our heating and hot water consumption.
Heat pumps are the linchpin of high-efficiency low-carbon heat and are in line with the Smarter Living ethos as they use natural resources to help make heating a home greener and more sustainable.
Since the air or ground is heated by the sun, the energy that heat pumps produce is classed as ‘renewable’, even though the pump itself is powered by electricity. Cleaner grids will reduce the environmental impact of this energy source even further, making it a preferred choice for homeowners and businesses.
It is recognised that heat pumps will only fulfil their promise in the market if suppliers, installers and users fully appreciate their function and capabilities.
Heat pumps work by absorbing low-grade heat from the air or ground and transferring it to a fluid. The fluid is then compressed, which increases its temperature, and the heat created in this way is transferred to be used for hot water, radiators, and underfloor heating.
With up to 4kW of heat output for every 1kW of energy input, they can supply more heat than they consume, which makes them more efficient than a new fossil fuel boiler that is approximately 90% efficient. They have an average life-cycle of 15 to 20 years.
Air-source heat pumps tend to be suitable for a wider range of properties. There are two types. Air-to-water pumps heat water for all your needs, including heating. Air-to-air can be used for heating, but not for domestic hot water.
An added benefit is that if the heat pump is the main heat source in a property, the owner qualifies for Manx Utilities’ comfy heat tariff, which is applicable to the whole house and offers reduced-price electricity during the afternoon and overnight.
The domestic heating comparison compiled monthly by the Isle of Man Government’s Office of Fair Trading highlights the running costs of gas, oil, wood, coal and electricity as heating sources. You will note that the unit costs of operating an air-source heat pump are lower than those associated with an oil boiler, and are significantly lower than that for a gas boiler.
An air-source heat pump can be installed under 'permitted development' providing the installation meets the set out criteria. If the installation fails to meet the requirements, a planning application is necessary. Contractors are required to make an application to building control prior to installing a heat pump.
For ideas on how to enhance the thermal insulation of your home:
Building Fabric Guide of the Carbon Trust
One of the leading insulation providers, Kingspan.
It may also be prudent to consider other pragmatic thermal insulation solutions including air tightness testing and thermal imaging to highlight potential heat wastage and air leaks in your property - check the Government's list of approved contractors for island-based companies providing these services.
The results of the above tests will indicate the suitability of a heat pump installation and, following remedial work to insulation levels if required, could potentially enable a smaller, therefore cheaper to buy and run, heat pump to be installed.
The Energy Saving Trust is a UK 3rd sector independent organisation and a respected and trusted voice on clean energy and energy-saving solutions. Please check their comprehensive guide to air-source heat pumps.
For more information, please also visit the website of the Centre for Sustainable Energy, a UK charity aimed at changing perceptions and actions on energy.
A major objective of The Heat Pumps Association, is to raise awareness of heat pumps by informing prospective suppliers, installers and users of their long-term benefits, reassuring end users and providing up-to-the-minute advice on the various systems available.
The Construction Isle of Man Accredited Scheme (CIOM) is organising The Home and Lifestyle Expo 2021, with a strong focus on new technologies and sustainability. The event is to be held at the Mountain View Innovation Centre on the outskirts of Ramsey on a date to be confirmed.
The Government’s list of approved contractors is now accommodated within the Construction Isle of Man Accredited Scheme. All new applications and applications for renewal are administered by Construction Isle of Man.
Renewable energy help and advice from experience is a Facebook group raising awareness of the benefits of renewable energy in the home.