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Maximising Energy Efficiency: Radiators & Heat Pumps

As heat pumps become more and more popular, Nick Duggan, MD at The Radiator Centre answers our questions on which radiators are best to use with these systems and how to maximise energy efficiency.Why might I need different radiators for a heat pump?
Heat pumps work at lower temperatures than conventional boilers and as a consequence, they will heat a room to a lower temperature as well. Traditional radiators are designed for higher-temperature systems and therefore may not work as effectively with a heat pump, leading to reduced heating efficiency.  To compensate for this, it’s likely that you will either need larger radiators than you currently have or more energy efficient ones.  Radiators designed for heat pumps are optimised to operate efficiently with the lower temperature output of the heat pump.

What are the most efficient radiators to use with a heat pump?
Radiators with more surface area are best as they can transfer heat more effectively into the surrounding space, although this doesn’t always have to mean larger radiators.  Energy efficient radiators are designed to maximise the amount heat generated and often includes features like fins, convectors, or other elements that increase the surface area available for heat exchange in more clever, discreet ways.

These energy-efficient radiators also include an optimised heat exchanger, which uses 90% less water than is used in standard radiators, meaning less energy is needed to heat the water up. This also brings other advantages in that the radiators take less time to heat up and you lower your carbon footprint at the same time. For hard to heat areas many energy-efficient designs also come with a fan-assisted ‘boost’ that can generate up to three times the amount of heat that a conventional radiator would generate.

Do I need bigger radiators for a heat pump?
Not necessarily. If sticking with conventional steel panels then unfortunately these will need to be either longer or deeper, but there are alternatives out there such as the energy-efficient options, which use the lower flow temperatures of a heat pump better so there is less need to lose wall space for the sake of going greener.  The energy-efficient options are typically made from materials with high thermal conductivity, such as aluminium. Could I use my existing radiators?
This will depend on a number of factors including the size of your home and how insulated it is.  It is probably best to check with an authorised installer, but it is quite likely you will need to upgrade your radiators to compensate for the lower flow temperatures that heat pumps operate at.

Nick Duggan, Director, The Radiator Centre, 01727 840344