History of a heat pump: Heat pumps have been around for a long time and have been extensively and very successfully used in commercial applications for many years. Some of the hostels at Stellenbosch University have used heat pumps for producing hot water for more than 25 years. The recent dramatic increases in electricity prices, with more to come, have generated great interest in alternative energy sources and the increased sales of heat pumps worldwide has brought down prices and made heat pumps a very viable option for the domestic market.
Eskom have realized the saving potential of heat pumps and decided to provide rebates on ITS heat pumps.

How does it work? A heat pump works in the same manner as an air conditioner but in a reverse configuration. That is, instead of removing heat from your home and expelling hot air outside it absorbs heat from the air outside and uses this energy to heat water. The modern domestic heat pump is a very efficient water heating device which uses a small amount of electricity to drive a compressor which forms the heart of the heat pump. The heat energy produced is as much as four times the electrical energy used to drive the compressor. This means that your electricity consumption for water heating can be divided by four (i.e. 75% saving).

The heat pump is not reliant on sunshine or direct radiation but extracts heat energy from the air at any time of the day or night and so is effectively a solar heater in a different form. Even in extremely cold conditions (-5C and lower) the heat pump can still provide a saving of more than 50%. In most cases in South Africa, where our daytime temperatures are relatively high, the efficiency is going to be at least 4 x that of an element heated water system. Even in the colder climates of Europe heat pumps are extensively used in domestic applications.

The heat pump looks similar to an air conditioner and can be installed either on the ground or on brackets on a wall. It is quiet and unobtrusive with a user friendly controller, has no greenhouse gas emissions and requires almost no maintenance.


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