Heat pump. How does it work?

Heat pump. How does it work?
It takes approx. 3 minutes to read this article

They extract energy from the ground, air or water and return it to the central heating system. When building a house, it is a good idea to consider heating with a heat pump. We explain what you should know about it

Types of home heating

Choosing the right device to heat our home is one of the most important decisions we have to make. The one we choose will affect not only our health and thermal comfort, but also our finances. It is worth looking for solutions which will sooner bring us savings than excessive expenses.

You can therefore decide on one of the following heating systems:

  • powered by solid fuel, such as coal, pellets or wood;
  • gas-fired;
  • electric
  • oil-fired;
  • heat pump;
  • hybrid (for example gas boiler and heat pump);
  • solar collectors.

What is a heat pump and what are its types?

A heat pump is a low-temperature heat source which makes full use of the energy stored in the natural environment. Its operation is very clean – there are no exhaust fumes, ash or dust – and extremely efficient and quiet, thanks to which it is in no way burdensome for household members.

There are heat pumps available on the Polish market:

  • ground (the most effective),
  • air (the most popular),
  • water.

When choosing the best solution one should take into account, among others, the surface of heated rooms, demand for hot utility water (DHW) and thermal demand of the building.

How does the heat pump work?

Aground source heat pump has the best efficiency and is able to satisfy one hundred percent of a building’s heat demand. They work by extracting energy from the ground through a ground heat exchanger, where there is always a positive temperature. In this exchanger circulates antifreeze glycol solution, also called brine. These pumps heat the water, which then feeds the home’s heating system.

An air-source heat pump uses renewable and free energy stored in the air around us, so it does not produce heat, but extracts it from the environment, processes it and releases it into the building. It is maintenance-free and fully automatic. It works with a wide range of air temperature values, and in case of severe frost, an emergency electric heater is activated. You can also set it to work at night, when the cheaper tariff is in force (of course, only if you have chosen such a way of settlement). Then during the day it simply uses the excess accumulated energy. This type of pump can be installed on any property, including already inhabited houses. No drilling or pipe work is required, but an electrical and plumbing connection must be provided.

It is also possible to install pumps using energy from water, however their installation is possible only if there is a pond or a well on your property. The energy obtained in this way is used to heat water supplying the heating system or air supplied to the interior of the house.

Heat pump with subsidies

The installation of a heat pump (as well as any other heating system) is connected with considerable financial outlays, however, the good news for the owner or co-owner of the house is that it is possible to obtain a grant for this purpose from the nationwide programme Clean Air launched by the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.

Its goal is to protect the environment and improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As the heat pump is classified as a renewable energy source, it makes it possible to get this subsidy.

Main photo: Magda Ehlers/

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