Gearing up for heat pump demand

Gearing up for heat pump demand

2014 is set to be a crucial year for the heating sector as focus shifts away from traditional heating systems. Chris Dale looks at how installers can capitalise on the predicted rise in demand for renewable energy.

This time last year, many installers and manufacturers were eagerly awaiting the launch of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Unfortunately, it didn’t happen as expected, but the Government has recently made firm commitments to the RHI – the release  of the expected tariff details and the planned introduction in Spring 2014 –  and things are looking more optimistic for the industry.
To back this up, in certain areas of the country, such as South Yorkshire and parts of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, renewable energy training courses, including heat pump installation, are now available fully funded.
The majority of the major energy providers announced major price hikes at the end of 2013, prompting many homeowners to seek alternative energy sources that are more affordable to run. Air source heat pumps are an option that hold widespread appeal – both in the domestic and commercial sector – because they require no groundworks and make for a relatively straightforward retrofit.
Customers are weighing up the cost of installing a heat pump against the rising prices they would expect to pay on their energy bills with a conventional system in the future. This is making heat pumps even more appealing. And for those living in off-gas areas, this payback period can be noticeably quicker.
When you factor in the increased comfort factor that comes with heat pumps, and the ability to monitor and control heat pump systems through a smart phone or other devices connected to the internet, it is easy to see why they hold instant attraction to users.
Partnering with an experienced heat pump manufacturer that offers technical support and dedicated training courses is essential to ensure a straightforward and trouble-free installation. Manufacturer training helps to simplify the installation process and ensure familiarity, which means the time spent on system design, installation and commissioning can be reduced significantly. Over the year, this can mean major time efficiencies for the installer, which would lead to a better overall experience for the customer.
At Danfoss, we find that most issues with heat pump configuration come about because of an over-complicated layout. Part of any training should involve a module on system design, and this is an area where additional support is essential for engineers – especially in the early stages of working with heat pump technology.
Investing time in understanding the benefits of intuitive heat pump design really does make the difference when it comes to installation.
Many buyers, both for commercial or domestic projects, are recognising how heat pumps help to retain affordable running costs against the backdrop of price increases from the energy companies.
As awareness of the RHI starts to spread, installers should start to see a continued increase in demand for heat pumps from self builders, homeowners in off-gas areas and for commercial buildings. Having the essential skills to be able to design, install and commission a heat pump system successfully will be vital to secure new business opportunities in this potentially lucrative market. For many, this is seen as the platform for growth and is providing a boost for many renewable energy installers.