Today, the heat pump is a very popular heating system, and for good reason. But is it really interesting? And what type of heat pump to choose? To help you find your way around, here is an overview of the advantages presented by the heat pump, as well as the few disadvantages that can be blamed on this system.
Reminder: types of heat pumps
When talking about a heat pump, it is essential to specify what type of system it is. Because if they all work according to the same principle, the different types of heat pumps each have their own characteristics.
The most important distinction to make is aerothermal – geothermal. Aerothermal systems draw their energy from the outside air (air-air, air-water, and hybrid heat pumps), while geothermal systems draw their energy from the ground or groundwater (soil-water and water-water). Therefore, bear this distinction in mind when considering the advantages and disadvantages of heat pumps and when deciding which system to buy.
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1. Suitable for renovation or new construction
In renovation, heat pumps (except the air-air heat pump) can be directly connected to the existing heating installation and produce hot water for the circuit. In order to have optimum performance, the heat pump must be combined with low-temperature radiators or underfloor heating. In addition, aerothermal pumps are easy to install: it is above all the outdoor unit that will take up space. The standard or hybrid air-water heat pump is generally the best choice for renovation.
For new buildings, which are generally well insulated, the heat pump is also a solution that proves to be economical and efficient. In addition, the installation of a geothermal pump, which requires more extensive work, can be done at the same time as the construction.
2. Versatile solution
A heat pump can be used for different purposes. Of course, it can be used as a central heating system. But it can also be interesting to opt for a smaller model to provide only domestic hot water or to heat the water of a swimming pool.
3. Air conditioning
Some models of aerothermal heat pumps are reversible, that is to say that they can act as air conditioning when it is hot. This functionality is often present in air-air heat pumps, and sometimes in air-water heat pumps. However, only non-reversible heat pumps are eligible for energy bonuses.
4. Energy bonuses
Speaking of energy bonuses: most heat pumps, except air-air and hybrid, allowing you to benefit from energy bonuses granted by regional governments and recover part of your investment. You will find all the information on the energy bonuses, including the amounts and the application procedure, in this article.
In addition, if your home is more than 10 years old, you can also benefit from the reduced VAT rate of 6% for renovation work.
5. Clean and renewable energy
Up to 80% of a heat pump’s energy is drawn directly from its environment (air, ground, or water). This energy is therefore completely free and ecological.
Of course, the heat pump also consumes some electricity. And electricity is not necessarily produced in an ecological way unless you have photovoltaic panels.
The ratio between this part of electricity and the part of renewable energy is determined by the coefficient of performance (COP). Depending on the COP, a heat pump can provide up to 5 kWh of renewable energy for 1 kWh of electricity consumed.
1. Significant investment
The heat pump still represents a significant investment, especially for geothermal models, which require intensive work for their installation. The amortization period is relatively long, around 10 years (obviously, this period varies according to the type of heat pump and its COP). Thereafter, however, this system will allow you to achieve great savings.
2. Good insulation is necessary
For the heat pump to be a really good heating solution, it must be installed in a sufficiently well-insulated building . If the heat losses are too high, the heat pump will have to consume a lot of electricity to maintain the interior temperature, which will be very expensive.
That said, if the building is properly insulated, the heat pump is one of the best solutions for heating it.
3. The aerothermal heat pump is not always enough in winter
Since air-to-air and air-to-water pumps draw their energy from the outside air, they won’t be as efficient when that air is too cold. In general, it is considered that an aerothermal heat pump works well up to a minimum of 7°C. Below this temperature, the COP drops considerably and the system will consume a lot of electricity.
To avoid this problem, it will therefore be necessary to install an auxiliary heater for the winter (such as a pellet stove, for example). Otherwise, you can opt for a hybrid heat pump (heat pump combined with a gas boiler) or even a geothermal heat pump. For the latter, the investment is greater, but the heat from the ground is constant, even in winter, which ensures good performance all year round.
4. Noise pollution
Aerothermal heat pumps need a unit located outside. It varies by model, but the outdoor unit can be a bit noisy at times. To reduce noise pollution, it will therefore be necessary to pay attention to the place where this outdoor unit is installed or to take measures to absorb the noise.