The value of heat pumps in our society

An energy issue

Facing increasing shortages and rising fossil fuel prices, better energy management is becoming essential. We are facing a climate crisis linked to human activity. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere is constantly increasing, the oceans are storing a lot of heat and releasing it only very gradually.

The rise in temperature is causing :

  • the rise of the sea level
  • the melting of glaciers and ice floes
  • the increase of extreme events such as wildfire
Climate change has already begun, and it compromises the future of evolved life on Earth.

What are the solutions?

To try to solve these different problems, we can already act on two factors
  • reduce our energy consumption
  • make better use of available renewable energies
Heat pump systems meet these two criteria. Indeed, they allow to extract economically the calories available in abundance in nature, in an efficient way. They can heat, cool and produce hot water for the home.

To produce heat, instead of burning raw materials such as oil, gas, coal... which drains resources and requires a high temperature, the heat pump will use the principles of thermodynamics to raise the temperature level of the energies available in nature in order to make them usable.  

Nowadays, they are the most economical and ecological way to ensure the heating/cooling and hot water production of homes. They allow to answer the new thermal regulations (RT2012 or RE2020 for France). 

In addition, the State provides several grants to finance the installation of these machines, which can make real savings and return on investment in just a few years. 

Are all installations equal?

Several types of installations exist, some are more relevant than others, we will see them in the next articles. There are also different refrigerants, most of which are extremely harmful to the planet if leaked. 

Some systems also appear more practical than others, they allow reversibility (having warmth in winter and cold in summer). Some are more disturbing (noise) than others (e.g. drawing calories from the air instead of water through a borehole). In addition, climatic conditions have a significant influence on the efficiency ( performance factor ) of the heat pump. 
Some installations are particularly interesting, such as geothermal heat pumps or thermodynamic water heaters. 
All these conditions show us that it is difficult to take just one example of a system, and that in order to have a more global view of these installations, it is necessary to take several "typical" examples.

In conclusion

It is obvious that heat pumps alone will not be able to respond to the climate crisis, but they are a real advantage. Other solutions must be combined with them, like drastically reducing global emissions, which requires a change in our lifestyles (not only insulation of our homes...), other discoveries will probably also help us like CO2 absorption ("negative emissions").

Tomorrow, we will see how the first heat pumps appeared and why they had so much difficulty to impose themselves.

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