Despite still being relatively unknown in Australia, ground-sourced heat pumps are gaining a good reputation as an environmentally friendly source of heating and cooling. They are not a new technology – heat pumps have been used for decades in fridges and air-conditioning systems. They work by heat from one area to another. The first refrigeration plant was built by James Harrison in Melbourne in 1850. A fridge is basically a heat pump attached to a very well insulated box moving heat from inside the box to the kitchen.
Interest in heat pump systems has increased partly due to recent developments in ground-sourced heat pumps. This report provides information on heat pumps: how they work and where potential environmental improvements can be expected. Different designs for a commercially available ground-sourced heat pump are evaluated for a single household.