What to do if your ground source heat pump costs too much to run
Posted by Jason Hobbins on 8 February 2013 at 10:22 am
Q. Hi wondering if anyone else has had huge problems with a ground source heat pump. Had mine installed when the house was built and have no end of problems......largest and most pressing is the fact that it is costing me around £20 per day to run - which is astronomical and unsustainable! Heat pump provider unwilling or unable to come up with a reason for the huge running costs! HELP!
A. £20 every day to run your ground source heat pump is clearly not sustainable. We were asked to investigate a similar problem someone was having with their ground source heat pump (GSHP) another company had installed.
To understand exactly when the heat pump was using electricity and how much electricity it was using, we attached some energy monitoring equipment to the circuits that power the heat pump, and monitored the GSHP for several weeks. When we analysed the data we discovered that the electrical consumption was following a specific pattern and was spiking at 6kW. Coincidentally, this particular GSHP had a 6kW immersion heater!
When talking to the customer we discovered that they had chosen the luxury hot water setting on the immersion heater, which meant that the immersion came on each day to boost the hot water.
The luxury setting makes the water hotter – a heat pump will heat water to 40 - 45 degrees, by setting it to luxury it will turn on the immersion to boost the temperature to, say, 50 degrees.
The immersion heater in a heat pump is really only there as a backup and comes on when the heat pump is struggling to get the water up to the designated temperature – this may be because it’s too small for the property, or when its particularly cold.
We also discovered that the heat pump that had been installed in this property was undersized, meaning that the internal immersion heater came on several times each day, costing the customer a lot of money to run the heat pump.
The customer could have saved a lot of money in running costs if the heat pump had been the correct size for the property in the first place and if the luxury hot water setting had been explained to them.
So if you feel you're paying too much in running costs, first check your heat pump settings. It could be as simple as needing to switch them to a more economic setting. If that's not helping, get someone in to monitor the electricity usage, and take a look at the efficiency of the heat pump. It may be that it's too small for your property and therefore having to work extra hard.
If you’re not sure about how best to use your GSHP, there’s a useful guide on the Energy Saving Trust website.
Photo: Bryn Pinzgauer
About the author: Jason Hobbins is Managing Director of EnergyMyWay.
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