Benefits of heat pumps for business
Written by Linda Allardyce
The need to reduce carbon emissions is something that every business is being pushed by government and customers to take on board.
And at the same time, the national strategy for cutting carbon emissions to net zero is being rolled out with clear guidelines on what is coming down the line over the next few years, including the decarbonisation of business and domestic heating.
That means replacing fossil-fuel, CO2 generating gas boilers with clean green heating solutions. And a favoured technology being promoted by government is the heat pump.
For businesses, the move to heat pumps will help to manage energy consumption effectively, with rising prices a growing burden. Energy prices have more than doubled in the past 10 years and all the forecasts point to continued strong price rises over the next decade.
Heat pumps also shrink a company’s carbon footprint, delivering measurable efficiencies to strengthen Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting and policy.
Heat pumps provide a sustainable and low carbon source of energy for heating and hot water. Replacing gas energy generation helps to simplify a company’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 reporting.
The technology is very efficient with average savings in excess of 40-60% for ground or air source pumps. Heat pump systems are 400% more efficient that standard heating systems because they extract and move heat rather than generate it through costly combustion.
And the savings can be boosted further with other sustainable technologies like solar PV, to provide electricity to power the extractor process.
Reliable, safe, efficient
The technology is mature and very reliable. Heat pumps require minimum maintenance and are built to run for around 25 years with no efficiency loss, compared with a fossil-fuel burning boiler designed for a working life of around 12 years, losing 2% efficiency per year.
Heat pumps also provide excellent safety levels, compared with fossil-fuel heating systems where gas leaks and fires are not uncommon. As an adjunct safety improvement, heat pumps provide water at a workable temperature, removing the potential for scalding. There’s also no chance of a carbon monoxide leak.
They can be used as a cooling system. Unlike gas boilers, which can only be used to heat buildings and water, heat pumps can be switched to a cooling system in warmer weather
How heat pumps work
Heat pumps are used to extract thermal energy in the outside air or from the ground or water, and moving it inside where it is compressed and the heat transferred using a series of coils.
- Fluid in the ground loop flows into an evaporator heat exchanger in the heat pump
- The evaporator’s cold refrigerant extracts heat collected by the ground loop
- This is passed through a compressor, raising the temperature significantly
- The hot refrigerant flows through a condenser heat exchanger, transferring heat to closed heating or hot water system
- The refrigerant it is cooled as it leaves the condenser and flows through an expansion valve, like an aerosol nozzle, and the cold fluid then goes back into the evaporator.
As an energy technology, heat pumps are very efficient and clean. While they do use electricity to power a part of the operation, they don’t burn fossil fuels directly to generate heat. What’s more, they work effectively in temperate climates like the UK and deliver heating even when external temperatures are as low.
The technology helps to reduce corporate carbon footprint and application in business can help to reinforce ESG with wider Net Zero strategies. SaveMoneyCutCarbon has a Carbon Mentor service to help companies with clean heat planning as well as provision of Impact Statements.
SaveMoneyCutCarbon also offers a unique audit service, the SORT (Saving Opportunity Report Tool) to identify potential energy savings.
Heat pump types
Ground Source Heat Pumps tap into the generally stable temperature of an area of ground or body of water near a business property. These retain warmth from the sun as well as geothermal gradients and groundwater movement which means GSHPs are effective even in colder parts of the country.
This stored energy is extracted to provide heating and hot water. Heat pumps can also provide comfort cooling from the same system.
Pipes are installed in a borehole, trench or surface water in a precise pattern known as the ground loop. The pipes contain heat transfer fluid in a closed loop, which flows repeatedly through a heat pump, compressor and expansion valve to provide uniform heat all year round.
There is a range of solutions to provide the most suitable and effective heat pump installation.
Water source Heat Pumps: Large bodies of water retain heat from the sun and the bottom of the lake or pond, and this energy can be extracted for heating and cooling.
This is done through a system of flexible pipes or stainless-steel collector plates containing thermal transfer fluid placed in the water. The fluid absorbs heat from the surrounding water as it passes through the pipe and carries it to a GSHP.
As in other solutions, the heat pump system utilises the refrigerant and heat exchangers to extract energy from the thermal transfer fluid for heating and hot water.
Air Source Heat Pumps: The sun warms the air around buildings, creating a temperature difference, even in the coldest areas of the country. This energy can be extracted through an ASHP system, for heating, hot water and cooling.
One or more AHSPs are installed outside the premises and the system draws air across refrigerant coils, warming the refrigerant fluid. This energy is compressed in the heat pumps and then used for heating and hot water.
Companies can claim 130% capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery investments, including heat pumps and solar, for expenditure incurred from 1 April 2021 until the end of March 2023 – the so-called “super-deduction”. For every pound a company invests, their taxes are cut by up to 25p.
Alongside the super-deduction, there are three other significant capital allowance measures (announced in the autumn Budget):
- The 50% first-year allowance (FYA) for special rate (including long life) assets until 31 March 2023 for companies.
- Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) providing 100% relief for plant and machinery investments up to its highest ever £1 million threshold, until March 2023.
- Within Freeport tax sites, companies can access new Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA+) and companies, individuals and partnerships can benefit from an increased level of Structures & Buildings Allowance (SBA+) for investments until 30 September 2026.
Find out more about how these solutions can benefit your business