Ground-sourced Heat Pumps
Click here to read the ATA report to learn what are heat pumps, how they work and their potential environmental performance.
Ground-sourced heat pumps are gaining a good reputation as an environmentally friendly form of heating and cooling but are relatively unknown in Australia.
About heat pumps
Heat pumps are gaining a good reputation as an environmental friendly source of heating and cooling. However they are not a new technology. Heat pumps have been used for decades in fridges and air-conditioning systems. They are a technique to transfer heat from one area to another one. 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 the inside to the kitchen.
One reason why interest in heat pump systems has increased is recent developments in ground source heat pumps. This report provides information on what is a heat pump, how it works and where potential environmental improvements can be expected. Furthermore, different designs for a commercially available ground-source heat pump are evaluated for a single household.
How a heat pump works
Usually heat flows from a region of higher temperature to a region of lower temperature. During winter for example the heat flows from the warm inside of a house to the cold outside. A heat pump can reverse this direction and can therefore be used for heating as well as cooling purposes. In the following part the basic principles of how heat pumps work is explained. To understand the process it is important to know that heat and temperature are related but not the same. The same amount of heat can lead to different temperatures depending on how ‘dense’ the heat units are packed. The higher the density of heat units, the higher will be the temperature.