Why heat pumps are the way to go in 2020

Do you know the building sector is responsible for approximately 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU, making it the single largest energy consumer in Europe** That is what is reported by the European Union, which has recognized space conditioning systems as a major contributor to global warming.

To boost energy performance of buildings the EU has created a legislative framework that includes the Energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) (2019/1019/EU) and the Energy efficiency directive (2018/2002/EU).

These directives aim at promoting policies that will help the building sector being highly energy efficient and carbon-neutral by 2050  –  a goal otherwise pursued by the recently presented European Green Deal  –  also creating an environment where investment decisions can be taken, both from consumers and businesses, allowing to make more informed choices to save energy, saving at the same time their money.

The Energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) introduces specific measures to support governments and assess their progress. It  requires that all new buildings must be nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) as of 31 December 2020, and part of that low energy used by these buildings is required to come from renewable energy sources.

In this context, there has also been the introduction of Energy performance certificates, to provide consumers with information on the buildings they might want to purchase or rent, including an overall rating and recommendations for cost-effective improvements.

In addition to that, EU countries have been setting up support mechanisms to help finance renovations that make buildings energy efficient. In fact, under the EPBD directive, EU countries can provide a list of national measures for funding opportunities.

But the EU efforts to make the building sector more sustainable don’t stop with these regulations. EU has also introduced the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Directives (2009/125/EC Latest consolidated version: 04/12/2012), which have set new minimum requirements for heating appliances, as well as a label to inform about their performances ­– APE in Italy, la réglementation thermique in France, CEE in Spain and Energieausweis in Germany, are all examples of energy performance certificates.

The Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Directives have significant implications for HVAC products.

They assess product energy efficiency, based on seasonal energy performance rather than on standard rating conditions, for instance. This way, they have created a need for revision of products standards, leading to a phase out of less energy-efficient products.

Heat pumps represent one of the most interesting technologies when it comes to both reducing buildings energy consumption – consequently reducing their green-house gas emissions – and complying with this new set of directives and regulations introduced in the EU.

They offer an energy efficient way to provide space heating and sanitary hot water, and, due to the escalating price of oil and electricity in conjunction with the increase of energy related taxes and growing environmental concern, they are becoming more and more relevant in the European market, since heat pumps are a more efficient and greener option than gas boilers.

Heat Pumps, in fact, because they transfer heat energy from warmer places to colder spaces, and can also reverse this process, by absorbing heat from a cold space and releasing it to a warmer one, are a far more efficient option for heating than resistance heaters, for example.

A heat pump can generate three to five kilowatts of heat for each unit of energy it consumes. Since the heat pumps burn no fossil fuel when producing heat, they generate far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional heating options, and on top pf that, they completely eliminate a potential source of carbon monoxide within the spaces air-conditioned.

And if all that is not enough, heat pumps are classified among renewable technologies, because they can provide air conditioning, heating and ensure domestic hot water production, exploiting the free and unlimited heat accumulated in the air, in the surface water, in the underground aquifers and in the ground, then transforming that heat which would be otherwise unused, into useful energy. They also easily integrate with other renewable technologies such as photovoltaic and solar thermal, which makes it easy to create energy-efficient systems.

The numerous technological advantages of heat pump systems can be summarized as follows:

 

  • annual cycle air conditioning (heating and cooling) and domestic hot water production with a single system;
  • increase in energy efficiency and reduction in consumption;
  • use of renewable energy sources;
  • reduction of polluting emissions into the atmosphere;
  • reduction of plant management costs;
  • increase in the energy classification of the building and the value of the property;
  • access to state incentives;

 

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** (https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/energy-efficiency/energy-performance-of-buildings/energy-performance-buildings-directive)

 

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