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The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has published a revised report on field trials of heat pumps in domestic installations to update its 2010 report. EST has found that performance of heat pumps improves if they are properly installed and that 80% of users were satisfied with the performance of their heat pumps. In its summary of conclusions EST states that "Heat pumps can provide an efficient alternative for householders.
The Energy Saving Trust (EST) published its initial report on field trials of heat pumps in domestic installations in 2010.
The trials, which cost more than £500,000, involved only 54 ground source heat pump systems and just 29 air source heat pumps. In these circumstances it is not surprising that the performance of this sample of domestic systems tested varied widely. You can download the full EST Heat Pump Trials Report which includes some general explanations of heat pumps. ICAX specialises in large scale installations and uses heat pumps to extract heat from ThermalBanks.
One of the clear lessons of the domestic field trials is that heat pumps need to be carefully specified by knowledgeable installers: without the right advice you may not achieve the savings in running costs and savings in carbon emissions you are looking for.
The key to getting good performance from a heat pump is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of heat pumps and work with these instead of trying to fight them. UFH is a more gentle form of heating that can be operated for longer hours than gas fired radiators. The input temperature from the ground will depend on the design and installation of the ground loop.
ICAX installs heat pumps in larger projects where the economies of scale allow heat pumps to work more cost effectively than in domestic installations. ICAX performs a full thermal modelling simulation of each installation in the design phase to verify that a well balanced system is delivered. The earlier EST trials of micro-wind turbines highlighted significant differences between manufacturers' claims and in situ performance.
The study of micro-turbines found that many devices in urban and suburban locations suffered from inadequate wind speeds and performed significantly worse than the manufacturers' claims. The audits of loft and cavity wall insulation showed that the measures yielded less than 70% of the energy efficiency ­savings claimed. This issue gives an overview of the IEA's recent publication Energy Technology Perspectives 2010, with an emphasis on heat pumps. The Heat Pump Programme has the pleasure to welcome United Kingdom as a new member country in 2010. The Energy Saving Trust’s heat pump field trial is the most wide-ranging monitoring exercise of domestic heat pump installations and customer feedback undertaken to date in the UK. Peter Taylor, IEA, FranceThe previous edition of Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP), published in summer 2008, called for an energy technology revolution to tackle the undesirable consequences of our current patterns of energy supply and use. Shogo Tokura, International Heat Pump & Thermal Storage Technology Center of Japan, JapanIEA has just launched the new edition of Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) showing how new technologies will be important for halving global CO2 emissions by 2050. Michael Taylor, IEA, FranceThe buildings sector has an important role to play in the BLUE Map scenario’s overall goal of a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Roger Nordman, Monica Axell, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, SwedenThis article comments on the results of the publication, and gives some guidance for future development for the heat pump community. Carmine Casale, ItalyThis report considers the heat pump sector’s present difficulties and the reasons for them apart from the general economic situation.
Read all articles in the full newsletter which is available to all member countries and subscribers. These are the two completely opposite views generated by the Energy Savings Trust's (EST) Heat Pump field trial.
This is why manufacturers will quote you a CoP at a fixed condition and to a standard EN14511, so it is possible to compare one unit with another.
It is too early to draw any performance conclusions from the results and it must be remembered that this is an interim report, with the EST planning to focus on why the results were not as expected in the second report. The EST has produced a number of sound recommendations in the report which are reproduced here and should not be any different (and certainly no surprises) to what manufacturers and suppliers are currently doing as a matter of course. One thing missing from the list which I think needs addressing and could explain some of the low performance figures is that a number of heat pumps contain in-built immersion heaters. There is also the issue that the pumps were installed prior to the launch of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme. So overall, although the results are not quite as expected, there are no real surprises in the recommendations and nothing that shouldn’t be done already. About the author: John Barker-Brown is special projects manager at British heat pump manufacturer Kensa Engineering. If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below. I certainly would not expect the fact that you property is 'drying out' to cause the electrical cassette to come on, although I would expect the compressor to be running fairly constantly at this time of the year.
The compressor is almost always running and that in turn brings in the additional (electric) cassette which is driving my electricity costs literally through the roof - never mind being slightly excessive as some are reporting!
My manufacturer insists it is because the house is still drying out - a claim which has been disputed by my architect, builder and that company's own refridgeration expert! I need an independant expert to check over my building and the installed equipment to either prove or disprove the fact that the system has been badly under-sized.
I think you might be talking about CO2 heat pumps (eco-cute) which are available in Japan for DHW production only (I can't tell from your website, what type of heat pump you manufacture?!).
I think Steven also forgot to mention that the UK housing stock is a lot poorer than that in Europe.

I know the Kensa units in the trial (even though they performed in the top bracket of the results) were not in what I would say ideal applications with the clients being advised to improve the insulation levels a number of times. With the method of calculating your CoP described, this seems fine for the performance of the heat pump in your property. As a recent purchaser of an Ice Energy heat pump I was disappointed with the EST 'Getting Warmer' Report. Steven Harris, Head of Low Carbon Technologies at EST kindly phoned me and discussed the methods they used.
It was indeed very thorough and agreed technically by the heat pump manufacturers and peer reviewed at every stage. The results compared well with a similar German study for air source but their ground source figure was between 4 and 5 COP.
I asked what the objectives of Phase 2 would be and he answered that it was to find out the reasons in each case for the poor performance. In the transition to a low carbon economy, air source heat pumps will be a critical demand side technology. The government has stated its intention to support air to water heat pumps under future Renewable Heat Incentives, subject to successful testing and affordability [1]. The Energy Savings Trust conducted a recent field trial of both ground and air source heat pumps across various UK sites. Use a theoretical model of an air to water heat pump in a dwelling to simulate performance (in MatLab). Perform a sensitivity analysis on the model to test the influence of key characteristics on unit performance. Use the results to recommend further research and improved installation practice; for example, targeted building types for air source heat pumps. The calibrated model was validated on an average scale, matching measurements at hour time-resolution. Key strengths of the model were its theoretical (thermodynamic) transparency; and its flexibility, as many scenarios could be analysed.
Key limitations were its representation of modulating controls, dynamic heating response, and building design. The model could be improved by incorporating variable speed controls, and possibly by integrating the MatLab component model into a building simulation package such as EnergyPlus. The oversized case was found to offer heating system flexibility for dwellings with high heat loss coefficient, high thermal mass, and when quick warm-up periods are required, e.g. Further simulation work is required to test modulating control strategies, and to compare heat pumps with and without thermal stores (hot water tanks). The London-Loughborough Centre, a partnership between UCL and Loughborough University, is the new UK centre for energy demand research.
Of these early installations most were retrofits and some covered social housing where the occupants had no input in the installations.
It also reports that "Often there was no single contractor responsible for the installation, which might involve a ground contractor, a plumber, a heat pump installer and an electrician. However, we think you will learn far more about heat pumps from this website, including the page on Thermalbanks. We would never use a heat pump to extract heat from the ground in winter without having any mechanism to save heat in the ground in summer – otherwise we would be in danger of only achieving the low level of performance found in the EST field trials. When the outside air temperature is below freezing an air source heat pump will be less efficient than a ground source heat pump. As the GSHP extracts heat from the ground the ground temperature will fall and become less efficient. ICAX has also developed a number of techniques to improve the performance of heat pumps in these large-scale projects.
The British contracting party is DECC, Department of Energy & Climate Change, for and on behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom. The trial was launched in July 2008 to monitor the performance of 83 heat pumps installed in UK homes for a period of at least twelve months. Current energy and CO2 trends run directly counter to the repeated warnings sent by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Key Message by ETP 2010 indicated that biggest contribution to CO2 emission reduction will be brought by combination of energy efficiency and lower-carbon electric power.
Energy efficiency options are available in the buildings sector that can reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions from lighting, appliances and heating and cooling equipment rapidly and at often at low cost.
This Annex was directed at widening the use of compact heat exchangers (CHEs) in heat pumping systems.Annex 33 is the first Annex that has a final report, executive summary and 2-page flyer available in the new layout and downloadable free of charge. The report, Getting Warmer; a field trail of heat pumps has finally been released to a very varied reception. The EST started the trial with good intentions, seeking to establish the performance of heat pumps when installed in a variety of properties and offering to comment on factors critical to the technology’s successful application.
Ask a manufacturer to provide a seasonal performance figure for your application and it is almost impossible due to all the variables. Comparing performance of air and ground source heat pump technologies on this report would be premature, given the significant amount of estimated data for air source heat pumps included in the report. The points echo what Kensa has been saying for years and all our sites within the trail fell within the top 18%. Using direct electricity to heat the building will certainly lower the overall performance. However, the governance of the MCS scheme, and its ability to protect consumers, must be refined to ensure sanctions are imposed on suppliers and installers not capable of delivering projects consistent with the trial’s best performing sites. The EST has acknowledged that further evaluation is required to understand some of the initial findings and I’m sure we will all look forward to reading the next report.

I have experienced similar problems with an air source heat pump (Back up immersion heater running for a lot of the time + out door unit icing up) this was all due to the unit being massively undersized.
What kind of collection system are you using (horizontal collectors, slinky coil or bore holes) and how much do you have? The EST report dealt with R407C, R134a units which if you increase the outlet temperture then the efficiency will drop.
Even with MCS accreditation there are still good and bad installers and despite a number of compliants against installers from clients I have still to see a company thrown off this scheme for heat pumps. However I believe the EST were trying to compare one heat pump in one property with another. I was shocked to find ground source performance at COP 3 or below as I seem to be getting up to 5.
Unfortunately the cost of monitoring each home for a whole year with ?5000 of equipment could not be afforded by the average householder.
He said the reason was that installers in Germany were of degree standard whereas ours had 1 week training. Anecdotally there were circumstances in the installation or use of the equipment which contributed in a minor or major way. If you haven't already registered, please sign up as a company or an individual, then come back and have your say. Heat pumps function on electricity and ambient heat alone, therefore cutting the need for gas consumption and potentially exploiting the use of renewable power.
The results for the air source units broadly showed a performance gap, between their design efficiency and delivered energy efficiency post-installation, as well as reduced performance compared to other European trials [3,4].
The heat distribution systems included radiators as well as under-floor heating and some systems also provided domestic hot water. This meant that there was often no single point of responsibility or any liability for the eventual performance of the whole installation".
If the ground loop is too small the GSHP performance will suffer badly, especially in the later half of the winter. ICAX uses solar thermal collectors to store summer heat in Thermalbanks so that ICAX systems can benefit from higher ground temperatures in winter and thereby double the CoP of its heat pumps. Presenting two main scenarios, a clear message is that the world has to switch from the "Business as usual" Baseline scenario, and instead aim for the Blue Map scenario. The end-uses of space heating and cooling dominate energy consumption in OECD buildings, while cooling will be a major source of energy demand growth in developing countries. Finally, some ideas for further development of the technical basis for the ETP publication are given. The article describes the growth of heat pump applications in Italy over the last five years, with a forecast for 2010.
If you do not have enough pipework down or the pipework is not spaced out enough (such as with slinkies or compact collectors) this could be the cause of the problem if the ground is freezing. The added benefit of air to water heat pumps is their ease-of-retrofit to domestic buildings: they can often replace gas boilers on existing water distribution systems, reducing installation costs. Consequently, research is needed to understand this performance gap, to improve installation practice and maximise energy and carbon savings.
In the model, given the heat pump was fixed speed (on or off), it was found that temperature controls were critical in minimising energy consumption; and limiting the opportunity for overheating. The field trial was undertaken to determine the key factors which affect the performance of domestic-scale heat pumps, including technical parameters (e.g. ETP 2010 explores what this future might look like through detailed scenario analysis that highlights the key technologies, by sector and region, as well as examining issues such as financing, R&D and deployment needs, policy issues, behavioural aspects and environmental co-impacts. Also, the characteristics of heat pumps as a highly efficient technology using renewable energy sources were acknowledged in ETP 2010 for the first time. Heat pumps are a particularly important abatement option and are a key part of the solution for buildings in the BLUE Map scenario. The various applications are described separately in order to highlight the differences between them. The efficiency of any heat pump is very dependent on the building, the occupants and what you are asking the heat pump to do.
This means that if the heat pump is producing water at 35oC, for underfloor it is more efficient than when it is producing 55oC water for DHW.
So CO2 is good for the production of instantaneous DHW, but for space heating where the temperature difference is low (Delta T = 5) the performance and hence CoP is poorer than a standard refrigerent type of heat pump. This is where the results fall down, as you said in your post, one womens jam making affected the results, while in another, the daughter smoking did! My OWL measures the electricity being used, pumps and all, and my COP is between 4 and 5 at present.
The effect of the temperature controls is to cycle the heating system on and off – in order to regulate heat load and room temperature. ETP has significant potential for formulating government policy, not only in OECD countries, such as Japan, but also in non-OECD countries. The findings illustrate that heat pump performance is highly dependent upon appropriate installation and integration with the building’s existing heating system, as well as appropriate control by the customer.
I can take the same heat pump and place it in two different buildings and get two completely different results.

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