What Are CO2 Heat Pumps, and Why Are They on The Rise?

Business Insights

Wherever we see, there is a huge push for going green and reducing carbon emissions. But did you know that close to one-fifth of the total carbon emissions that the UK generates come from just heating buildings and almost 9 out of 10 UK homes rely on natural gas to heat their residential spaces?

To eliminate this major chunk of our emissions and for safeguarding the future of our kids and the coming generations, there’s a need to adopt greener alternatives to our traditional heating systems. If claims from industry experts are to be believed, CO2 heat pumps could very well be the kind of solution we desperately need.

In this article, we explain why CO2 heat pumps are rising in popularity, and whether they really have the potential to become a part of our domestic and commercial heating systems. But first, let’s have a look at what a heat pump is and how it works.

What is a heat pump and how does it work?

A heat pump is a greener alternative to our traditional heating systems. It's designed to absorb heat from colder external sources and transfer it to indoor spaces where heating is required. Think of it as a reverse fridge, since heat pumps use a refrigerant too, which in the case of CO2 heat pumps is, you guessed it, CO2 (or Carbon Dioxide)! There are three types of heat pumps, namely Ground Source Heat Pumps, Air Source Heat Pumps, and Water Source Heat Pumps, which extract heat from the ground, air, and water, respectively.

Heat pumps are typically installed outside homes and commercial premises, and from the first look, they appear no different than your standard air conditioning units. But since they are being widely adopted by environmentally-friendly citizens at a record rate, you will soon spot one in your neighbourhood, sooner than later.

How do CO2 heat pumps compare with traditional gas boilers?

A heat pump that’s installed properly can keep the indoor temperatures of any residential commercial space warm at all times of the day. Unlike traditional gas boilers that flare up every once in a while and speedily use up natural gas to heat up the indoor space quickly, heat pumps are designed to keep the temperature of indoor spaces steady by delivering small top-ups of heating throughout the day. This makes CO2 heat pumps an ideal choice for not just homes but also commercial spaces that are serious about their green commitment.

With that being said, heat pumps are just as capable, if not more capable, of matching the kind of heat that traditional boilers generate, without the issues of environmental pollution and low efficiency operating cycles. In fact, their better efficiency for generating heat and the ability to cut carbon emissions makes them quite popular in the Nordic countries, where the winters are much colder compared to the UK.

What’s fueling the demand and growing popularity of CO2 heat pumps?

The vast majority of the UK's heating systems heavily rely on mains gas, LPG, and oil. Since heating buildings contributes to around 19% of the country's carbon emissions and the government has already set forth a national goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, it's high time the public adopted a greener alternative to keeping the indoors warm.

With growing concerns about global warming and climate change, there's an increasing awareness and understanding in the public about solutions like heat pumps and what makes them a better alternative to traditional heating systems that rely on fossil fuels for operating.

What does the future hold for CO2 heat pumps?

The UK government has made it a goal to make its domestic energy generation rely entirely on renewable sources of energy by 2035. In a bid to give a push to its green commitment and reduce the carbon emissions that arise as a result of heating buildings using traditional heating systems, the government has praised the importance of using heat pumps in its Heat and Buildings Strategy.

The government has also announced a £450m fund for this groundbreaking Boiler Upgrade Scheme for the citizens of England and Wales, aiming to offer grants of £5,000 as a subsidy for those who choose to install a heat pump in their household. Needless to say, government initiatives like these are sure to encourage the mass adoption of innovative heating mechanisms such as CO2 heat pumps in the years to come.

Owing to their better performance among various other advantages and the recently announced government subsidy, homeowners are finding heat pumps to be an attractive proposition. As the world tries to focus on environmentally sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels and the UK's energy sector aims to go increasingly green, innovative and clean technologies such as CO2 heat pumps will gain more public recognition and find their way into our homes and offices.