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Heat Pumps – the lowdown

Heat pump technology isn’t new. In fact, it dates back as far as the 1800s. But, like any technology, it has advanced over time. As a result, heat pumps have become more widely used in recent decades.

In the last few years, heat pumps have become even more of a talking point in the UK due to government grants being offered to homeowners who want to invest. But heat pumps aren’t limited to domestic buildings. They offer many benefits for commercial properties too and can be used in various manufacturing processes.

Types of heat pumps

Without getting too scientific, heat pumps work by transferring energy from one place to another, heating or cooling it depending on what is required. Different types of heat pump systems take energy from different places.

Ground source (geothermal)

A ground source heat pump (GSHP) takes thermal energy from the ground. Pipes are laid horizontally under the ground or vertically using boreholes. Cold fluid is circulated through the pipes, absorbing heat from the ground. The heated fluid is then transferred to the heat pump where it is processed for distribution using compressors and condensers.

Air source

An air source heat pump (ASHP) uses air from outside and passes it through a heat exchanger containing a refrigerant. The refrigerant turns to gas which is then compressed to raise the temperature so it can be used for heating.

Exhaust air source

Rather than taking air from outside, exhaust air heat pumps use warm air from inside. These can be useful if you have furnaces, ovens or manufacturing processes that produce a large amount of heat as the exhaust air can be captured and reused for other applications.

Water source

A water source heat pump takes energy from a nearby body of water such as a pond or lake. Water source heat pumps aren’t as common as air source or heat source as they can be more expensive and more complex to install.

Air Source Heat Pump on Building

Benefits of heat pumps

Industrial heat pump systems require effective planning and design, but once installed will offer many benefits.


Although heat pumps require electricity to operate, they can generate three to five times more heat energy than the electrical energy they consume. This makes them extremely efficient when compared to traditional boiler systems.

Cost savings

Because heat pumps are more efficient than traditional boiler systems, you should see a reduction in energy costs. If you currently use fossil fuels, the increase in electricity consumption should be offset by the elimination of gas, oil, or coal bills. For even bigger savings, you can install solar panels to power your heat pumps.

Environmental impact

Heat pumps use renewable energy sources, so they are far better for the environment than gas, oil, or coal boiler systems. Replacing old boiler systems with heat pumps can significantly reduce your carbon footprint, helping you meet any sustainability goals.


Heat pumps can be used for both heating and cooling, making them suitable for various manufacturing environments and applications. Some examples of use include:

• Preheat incoming materials or fluids to reduce energy consumption
• Use excess heat to generate electricity through the use of a CHP system
• Provide heat and hot water for non-production areas like offices
• Reuse exhaust air heat for building ventilation
• Power cooling systems for air conditioning or refrigeration
• Reduce the energy required for drying or curing processes

Durability and maintenance

Heat pumps have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance than conventional HVAC systems.

Integrate with smart systems

Heat pumps can be integrated into control and automation systems, allowing you to automate the settings and operate remotely.

Water Source Heat Pump illustration

Heat pump installation and design

To truly maximise the benefits of heat pumps, you need to plan your installation carefully.


As we’ve outlined above, heat pumps can be used for more than just heating a space. They can be used for various manufacturing processes and applications. When considering the installation of heat pumps in your facility, you need to look at where they will provide the biggest benefits.

Type of system

As well as considering the application of heat pumps, you need to determine which type of system will be best. For example, if you generate large volumes of waste heat from ovens, kilns, furnaces, boilers and manufacturing processes, exhaust heat pumps can be a great way to redistribute the waste heat.

Return on investment

Installation of industrial heat pumps does require a significant investment. Before deciding whether it’s the right move for your factory, it’s worth conducting a cost-benefit analysis to determine the expected ROI.

Power source

Heat pumps require electricity so while you might eliminate gas and coal bills, you will see an increase in electricity consumption. To counter this, you might want to generate your own power using solar or wind. Battery storage systems can also help you control energy costs. You can charge batteries when rates are low and discharge when energy rates are highest.

Control and automation

Heat pumps can be operated manually, but it makes more sense to utilise smart technology. Control and automation systems will allow you to automatically adjust heating and cooling systems based on real-time usage, pre-determined settings, and occupancy levels. This can be applied to building heating and cooling as well as heating and cooling applications on your production lines.

Working with AES

As part of our mission to collectively reduce carbon emissions, we offer free energy reduction audits to manufacturers.

After completing our assessment, we provide a free quote and a top-level overview of those areas where system upgrades can provide your business with the greatest financial impact.

We offer a wide range of energy reduction services, including:

• Heat pump installation
• Heat recovery
Energy-efficient lighting
• Voltage optimisation
Power factor correction
• Variable speed drives
• Battery Energy Storage Solutions (BESS)
• Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)
Electrical vehicle charge points
• Solar installation
Smart controls
• Control and automation systems

Contact us to book your free energy reduction audit and find out how to make your factory more efficient so you can reduce costs, lower your carbon footprint and improve productivity.

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Heat Pumps – the lowdown

Heat pump technology isn’t new. In fact, it dates back as far as the 1800s. But, like any technology, it has advanced over time. As a result, heat pumps have become more widely used in recent decades. In the last few years, heat pumps have become even more of a talking point in the UK […]

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