Fossil fuel heating is bad for the environment and super expensive right now: Three Democratic legislators wrote a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today asking them to protect consumers from unfairly high energy costs. Geothermal heating is fantastic, but it’s not yet widely available – and it’s still financially out of reach for many. Enter Swedish energy giant Vattenfall with high-temperature heat pumps that can easily replace gas boilers.
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New high-temperature electric heat pumps
Vattenfall and Dutch heating tech company Feenstra will roll out their electric heat pumps first in the Netherlands this year. Vattenfall plans to introduce them to other countries in the future, and is eyeing the UK for its next market.
The heat pumps can be directly swapped with conventional gas boilers, which means that there is no additional costly retrofitting beyond the heat pump installation.
Vattenfall explains why the new heat pumps are a good fit for houses in the Netherlands and the UK:
Many homes in the UK and the Netherlands are currently heated using a central heating boiler that uses natural gas to heat the water, which then flows through a network of pipes and radiators. Alternatives such as an electric heat pump use electricity to pump heat in from the outside air.
The drawback with these devices is the cooler water temperature, which usually sits between 45 and 55 degrees Celsius [113 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit]. To allow these heat pumps to work at their most efficient, houses need to have their insulation improved, underfloor heating fitted, or the radiators adapted. Gas boilers and the high temperature heat pump sit between 60 to 80 degrees Celsius [140 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit], meaning that these additional works are not required.
The price of the high-temperature heat pump will be comparable to current low and medium temperature heat pumps, but without the extra cost of retrospective insulation and/or underfloor heating.
Mark Anderson, commercial and development director at Vattenfall Heat UK, said:
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to decarbonizing heating. Removing emissions from heating relies on us making better use of waste heat from all sources and installing the right technologies in the correct locations of the country, where they will be most effective and affordable.
The UK has set a goal to end the installation of conventional gas boilers by 2035.
This is a great solution for households that use gas boilers for heating – I’ve owned many a home in the UK with this system – but of course, the new heat pumps are not a one-size-fits-all solution.
These heat pumps might work in US houses that have a radiator system, but some houses in rural New England, for example, run on oil-fueled furnaces that blow hot air through ductwork.
So, this is a great step toward eliminating natural gas-fueled heating, but diverse solutions are still needed.
Read more: 10 Questions: Geothermal with Dandelion Energy founder Kathy Hannun
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