Here at Madimack, we’ve never failed to reinforce the value of heat pumps. Whether for commercial or residential settings, these devices are tried-and-tested performers, offering property owners energy-efficient heating and cooling. Given their growing use in modern-day Australia, therefore, what are the challenges and opportunities these devices are likely to face in the domestic sector in the years to come?
Our blog this week takes a look. Continue reading for our insights and predictions!
Among the short-term obstacles preventing heat pump installation, the system’s pre-setup prerequisites prove to be some of the most challenging.
In this regard, for high performance and enviable energy efficiency, heat pumps require a low-temperature heat distribution system - those that use underfloor heating or large radiators, for instance. While such systems are gradually growing in use, a majority of homes still do not feature such amenities.
Properties would also need to tote impressive insulation in order to enjoy the low-temperature approach that renders heat pumps so efficient.
In addition to this, high capital costs that include installation also preclude many homeowners from resorting to these solutions. While cost is saved on a long-term basis, many can’t make the up-front payment required by these systems before they take effect.
Further, with electricity likely to become more expensive relative to gas by 2020, it is likely that gas boilers will continue in use, rendering heat pumps a more suitable choice for homes that are already efficient.
While the challenges facing the heat pump industry seem a little bleak, a larger consideration of the Australian energy landscape may point otherwise.
With residential solar adoption increasing exponentially over the past few years, trends in the global energy market indicate the homeowners may prefer electrical heating in their home, due to the surplus energy generated.
In this regard, heat pumps are likely to prove a popular fixture over traditional fossil fuel-based devices.
Individuals are also only likely to become more environmentally conscious, reducing their reliance on carbon-intensive energy solutions. From electricity-based air conditioners to space heaters, this means that solutions such as the heat pump, which draws on a freely and naturally available resource to generate heating, is sure to be preferred above traditional heaters and coolers.
Data also suggests that the technology used in homes will be dominantly electricity-based, including space and water heating. While this may be due, in part, to depleting resources and minerals, it’s also a result of the increasing efficiency of electrical devices and appliances. In this regard, heat pumps are gradually laying claim to greater portions of market share.
Given the state of the property market, it is also likely that more homeowners will stay put and renovate their properties over moving to a new location. Thus, while heat pumps may require somewhat of an investment at the start, individuals are more likely to install air source or geothermal solutions to render their homes more cost-effective and energy-efficient.
Among the many improvements industry specialists believe would increase the adoption of heat pumps, software updates are some of the most basic suggestions.
In this regard, deploying software for the design, deployment, and the management of installers, are likely to make installation significantly more efficient and cost-effective. Companies can, thereby, refine this process, specialising in installations that are more affordable and convenient for weary homeowners.
For homeowners that wish to make heat pump operation more efficient, the purchase of devices that feature smart controls is also highly recommended. In this regard, a software layer that can optimise home heating during off-peak hours can reduce operating costs by around 12%. Smart thermostats are similarly useful in lowering operating costs.
Along with smart controls, solutions that offer homeowners data and analytics that assist in performance optimisation and problem diagnosis are also useful.
Another way in which heat pump installation can be improved is through the use of smaller rigs, reducing the time taken and the cost spent on underground drilling. This is especially significant given that installing the ground loop for geothermal heat pumps amounts to 50% of total cost.
Given the challenges, opportunities, and trends outlined above, the future of heat pumps in the domestic sector seems to be brighter than most other heating solutions.
Should manufacturers address some of the concerns set out in this post and Australian homes move towards more energy-efficient lifestyles, heat pumps are likely to prove an irreversible trend in the time to come.