Water Source Heat Pump

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What Is a Water Source Heat Pump?

Water source heat pumps (WSHPs) move heat from a source of water to your household in an extremely efficient manner, especially if the water temperature is around 5 to 8 degrees Celsius. As such, there are numerous advantages of installing heat pumps.

Depending on the type of heat pump, either the water from a river or small stream is pumped through the heat pump, or a special refrigerant fluid is pumped through pipes laid in the body of water. While both have their own advantages, the latter type requires less maintenance and an easier application process, making it a cheaper option.

Water source heat pumps have been in use since the late 1940s. They use a rather constant temperature of the water as an exchange medium instead of extracting the heat from the outdoor air temperature. Thus, water source heat pumps can reach reasonably high efficiencies (300% to 600%) even on the coldest winter nights, in comparison to 175% to 250% for air-source heat pumps on cool days.

The reason water source heat pumps are so efficient is that they take two kilowatts of free heat from the water and one kilowatt of electricity to produce three kilowatts of heat. This is done with heat going up the flue pipe. As a result, the running costs of heat pumps are low.

If this sounds too good to be true and you are interested in buying a water source heat pump, we are here to make your buying process easier. You can avoid searching for different suppliers by simply filling in the contact form above and we will provide you with free, no-obligation quotes from up to 4 suppliers.

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How Much Does a Water Source Heat Pump Cost?

When purchasing a water source heat pump, you must consider several factors that will affect the cost of your purchase and the long-term return of it.

First, you must consider the initial purchase price of the water source heat pump which tends to be higher when compared to other heat pumps. The average initial cost needed for the heat pump is around £10,000.

However, this higher cost should be viewed as an investment, as the average payback period for domestic water source heat pumps is 5 years and around 10 years for larger projects.

As the useful life of water source heat pumps is at least 15 years, you are expected to experience a net benefit of using the system for 2/3 of its useful life. However, water source heat pumps can last upwards of 50 years with good maintenance, thus, significantly extending the potential payback period.

The net benefit of the heat pump is due to its increased energy efficiency by using waste energy to both heat and cool your property. On average, energy bills are reduced by 15% after installing the system.

When purchasing a water source heat pump, you must also consider repair costs of the system. This is an important detail to note as proper maintenance can considerably increase the useful life of your heat pump. The repair costs of water source heat pumps are generally lower than its counterparts, but the range is still quite wide depending on the repair needed.

Costs and Savings with Water Source Heat Pumps
Year RHI Payments Water Source Heat Pump Accumulated Cost Gas Boiler Accumulated Cost Savings
1 £264 £9,933 £2,464 -£7,469
2 £264 £9,866 £3,036 -£6,830
3 £264 £9,800 £3,608 -£6,192
4 £264 £9,733 £4,180 -£5,553
5 £264 £9,666 £4,752 -£4,914
6 £264 £9,599 £5,324 -£4,275
7 £264 £9,532 £5,896 -£3,636
8 £0 £9,730 £6,468 -£3,262
9 £0 £9,927 £7,040 -£2,887
10 £0 £10,125 £7,612 -£2,513
11 £0 £10,322 £8,184 -£2,138
12 £0 £10,520 £8,756 -£1,764
13 £0 £10,717 £9,328 -£1,389
14 £0 £10,915 £9,900 -£1,015
15 £0 £11,112 £10,472 -£640
Needs replacement
16 £0 £11,310 £12,936 £1,626
17 £0 £11,507 £13,508 £2,001
18 £0 £11,705 £14,080 £2,375
19 £0 £11,902 £14,652 £2,750
20 £0 £12,100 £15,224 £3,124
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Advantages of Water Source Heat Pumps

Water source heat pumps are an environmentally friendly and cost-efficient heating option for your home with a variety of benefits:

  • They generate less CO2 emissions than conventional heating systems.
  • Electricity must be used to power water source heat pumps which circulate the water through a loop to capture the heat. For every unit of electricity, you'll receive between two and four units of heat in return, making heat pumps an efficient and sustainable heating solution.
  • It has been estimated that a water source heat pump could save you between £395 and £2,000 a year depending on which heating system you replace.
  • The RHI scheme offers payments to homeowners who have a heat pump, estimated between £2,325 and £3,690 a year for an average four-bedroom detached home.
  • Works well with other heating systems and can be retrofitted.
  • Long lifespan that can range upwards of 50 years with an average length of 15 years.

Disadvantages of Water Source Heat Pumps

Water source heat pumps are a fairly large investment and a homeowner must also consider the potential disadvantages before making the investment.

  • Water source heat pumps have high upfront costs with an average payback period of 5 years. This makes air source heat pumps cheaper in the shorter run.
  • The installation of the heat pump can be quite difficult. However, water source heat pumps tend to be easier to install when compared to ground source heat pumps.
  • Special planning permissions are required in certain areas.
  • You need to live near a sustainable source of water.

How Do Water Source Heat Pumps Work?

The system is made of efficient heat pump units which are interconnected via a loop which the water passes through. Every unit offers specific air comfort requirements in the particular zone they are installed in.

During cold weather, the water source heat pump transfers heat from a water loop through the unit’s specially designed refrigerant-to-water heat exchanger and then move this heat into the central heating system.

In extreme weather conditions, when a lot more heat is necessary to warm up the building, units are operating in a heating mode; hence, heat is provided to every individual unit from the water of the loop. In case there isn’t enough heat in the looped water, an energy-efficient fluid heater must be installed in the loop to assist the heating process.

Ideally, the water source should be close to the house, so that it would not need to be pumped up to a significant height so the energy required for pumping could be decreased, thus increasing your savings.

Water can be sourced from substantial distances if the pipe diameter is adequately big, especially in a downward direction. When considering installing such a device, you must take into account the permissions and paperwork that must be completed to start your heat pump installation. Still, installing a water source heat pump is worth it in the United Kingdom.

Types of Water Source Heat Pumps

When looking for a new water source heat pump, you must consider the different types to determine which one will work the best for you. This is based on a variety of factors such as the proximity of your home to the body of water and if your water source is underground or surface level.

Closed-Loop Water Source Heat Pump Closed-Loop Water Source Heat Pump Systems

If there's a sufficient body of water near your house, this will be the lowest-cost option. A supply line pipe goes through the ground starting from the building to the water and intertwines into circles of at least 8 feet under the surface to avoid freezing. Coils must be placed in a water source which meets the minimum requirements in matters of volume, depth, and quality.

Open-Loop Water Source Heat Pump Open-Loop Water Source Heat Pump Systems

This system utilises a well or a surface body of water while the heat exchange fluid goes through the heat pump system. Once it dispersed through the whole system, the water returns to the ground via the well, a recharge well, or surface discharge.

Unfortunately, this option is practical only where there is a reasonable supply of clean water, and at the same time, all regulations and codes regarding groundwater discharge are completed. A filtration system or other forms of water treatment is required to gain the necessary licenses. Furthermore, the heat pump must also use a corrosion-resistant system as a large amount of water is pumped through the pipes.

Environmental Legislation to Keep in Mind

Specific environmental regulations and considerations must be addressed before installing water source heat pumps. Open-loop systems alter the temperature of groundwater, while thermal plumes affect hydrochemistry and bacteriology.

Depending on the type of system you wish to install, licenses may be required. For example, hydrogeology and thermal properties have to be investigated, and they require a license to examine groundwater and an abstraction license (permission of diverting surface or groundwater) which can be obtained from the Environment Authority.

Water source heat pumps work by using underground aquifers as both a heat source during winter and a heat sink in the summer. Aquifers offer good heat conductivity, stable temperatures, and large capacities for heat storage, thus, providing you with energy-efficient heating and cooling and a reduced carbon footprint. In the UK, there are plenty of well-suited aquifers for water source heat pumps.

Water Source Heat Pumps in the UK

Estimates show that water source heat pumps can produce up to 30% of UK’s heating needs. This has been possible due to new developments in the field of renewable energy, lower installation costs, and the Renewable Heat Incentive. All of these have created massive interest in water source heat pumps in general, especially in the London area, with an estimate of 1,000 applications for open-loop systems in particular.

Earn Money with Your Water Source Heat Pump

Since there is a growing importance of using green energy solutions, the UK has started motivating businesses, organisations, and people alike to increase their use of renewables and to reduce CO2 emissions.

Starting mid-2011, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) began providing funds to households with small to medium installations that deliver an acceptable heat load and meet the minimum energy efficiency standard. Water source heat pumps are eligible for the same tariffs as a ground source heat pump.

Renewable Heat Incentive Tariffs
Applications Submitted Water Source and Ground Source Heat Pumps Air Source Heat Pumps
1st April 2017 – 31st December 2017 19.64p/kWh 7.63p/kWh
1st January 2018 – 31st March 2018 19.86p/kWh 10.18p/kWh
From 1st April 2018 onwards 20.46p/kWh 10.49p/kWh

Savings with water source heat pumps are increasing. Gas prices have increased by over 30% in the past 2 years, whereas wholesale electricity prices went up by 35% within a single year in 2018, making a 5% electricity bill increase in early 2019 likely despite the government caps.

Find the Best Water Source Heat Pump Suppliers in the UK

Before purchasing a water source heat pump, you must consider several factors. This can include the initial purchase price of the heat pump, operating costs, and the heat pumps payback period.

Also, you will need to consider maintenance costs and the location of your home as you need to be near an open body of water to operate a water source heat pump. Lastly, when choosing a water source heat pump, you must consider the brand of the heat pump as this will affect the efficiency and lifespan of the product.

After considering all the different factors before investing in a heat pump, we are here to make the buying process easier. Save time and avoid searching for different suppliers by filling in the contact form above to receive free, no-obligation quotes from up to 4 suppliers.

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