Why Electrification of Heat Matters

Heating our homes and other buildings is accounting for 15% of Ireland's overall emissions, a figure that is shockingly almost as high as what our transport sector produces.

So, what can be done to reduce that figure and move to more low carbon options? The answer and future of heating lies in electrification. An electrified heat supply is viewed as one of the most efficient and cleanest ways to heat our homes, and other buildings such as schools, community halls etc.

 

Learn all about the electrification of heat below.

Our heating systems may be warming us up but they are having a serious negative impact on our overall emissions.

Heat accounts for 15% of Ireland's emissions, with oil and gas our predominant fuels of choice. In fact Ireland has one of the highest proportions of homes still using oil compared to our European neighbours.

As such, we need to consider, embrace and implement new forms of heating to bring about a more energy efficient and cleaner environment.

Heat Pumps are viewed as the key technology to electrifying our heating systems in a clean and efficient way.

Commonplace in European homes, recent statistics show that they are becoming more popular in Ireland, Lithuania, France and Poland.

As the world aims to decarbonise heating and cooling by 2050, experts are anticipating that heat pumps will become more the norm than the exception in future homes and buildings.

A heat pump, as part of a central heating and cooling system, uses the outside air to both heat a home in winter and cool it in summer.

A heat pump is a mechanical-compression cycle refrigeration system that can be reversed to either heat or cool a controlled space.

Installation for this type of system typically consists of two parts: an indoor unit called an air handler and an outdoor unit similar to a central air conditioner, but referred to as a heat pump.

A compressor circulates refrigerant that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units.

A heat pump is similar to a heat transporter in that it is constantly moving warm air from one place to another, to where it’s needed or not needed, depending on the season.

Heat energy is still present even in air that seems too cold. When it's cold outside a heat pump extracts this outside heat and transfers it inside.

When it’s warm outside, it reverses directions and acts like an air conditioner, removing heat from your home.

One advantage of a heat pump is that it moves heat instead of generating heat. This is why it is more energy efficient.

As it is powered by electricity, consumers can also save substantially on fuel consumption.

Reduced Running Costs

As the heat pump moves heat rather than creating it by burning oil or gas, it is much more efficient with average savings of more than 60% for ground source heat pumps and 40% for air source heat pumps.

Low Maintenance

Heat pumps generally require minimal regular maintenance. Many heat pumps have a planned life span of 25 years with no loss of efficiency. In comparison, boilers can lose up to 2% efficiency for each year of operation and have a usable life span of, on average, 12 years. 

Combats Oil Price Fluctuations

Oil prices are susceptible to large price hikes, particularly during the winter when you need your heating the most. Heat pumps remove this problem providing cost-effective, reliable heating.

Convenient Method of Heating

Heat pumps can heat up or cool down a room within a few minutes, then, once the room reaches the preferred temperature, the heat pump will maintain that temperature for as long as required.
Many heat pumps have programmable timers which allow users to warm up rooms when desired. Heat pumps don’t create smoke, ashes, moisture or any other waste material.

Safety

Unlike gas heating or wood burners, there are no flames or hot surfaces that children or pets can touch and burn themselves on.

Do not Burn Oxygen

Gas heaters need oxygen in order for gas to burn and release its heat energy. This can cause stuffy rooms and condensation on windows. Heat Pumps do not need oxygen as they merely transfer heat energy from one place to another.

Heat Pumps improve air quality

Heat pumps don't create smoke or add any fumes to the air. As the Heat Pump circulates air into a room, the filters clean and purify the air removing dust, mould spores, odours, smoke and other particles.

Energy Efficiency

Heat pumps are, according to the experts, the most cost-effective form of heating using electricity and most good quality systems achieve average COP (Coefficient of Performance) figures of three or more. This means that to achieve three kilowatts of heating or cooling power, they use an average of less than one kilowatt of electricity. 
A conventional heating system such as an electric fire or gas boiler has a COP of less than one. This means that it burns more than one kilowatt of power to produce a kilowatt of heating power. The higher the COP the cheaper a heating appliance is to run. In comparison to other forms of heating, Heat pumps offer the most energy efficient heating with between 300% to 400% efficiency.

Near Zero Energy Homes are regular grid-tied homes that are so air-tight, well insulated, and energy efficient that they require little energy for space heating or cooling.

Typically, they would use electric heat pumps to produce what little heating they need, leaving the occupants with a carbon-free home.