hot water
March 26, 2015

Brits to heat homes with water

Brett Smith for - @ParkstBrett

The British government is embarking on a bold initiative that will use water as a heat source and officials are saying that over 1 million UK homes could be heated this way in the future.

The heating system is based on a technology called a water source heat pump, which functions similar to refrigeration. Pipes placed beneath water are filled with a heat transport chemical that pulls warmth from the surrounding water and into the heat pump. The heated fluid is then compressed to further increase its temperature.

Both government officials and clean energy advocates praised the program for its minimal impact on the environment.

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“We need to make the most of the vast amount of clean, renewable heat that lays unused in our rivers, lakes and seas,” said UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey. “Doing this will help contribute to an energy mix that maximizes clean, reliable home-grown resources rather than relying on foreign fossil fuels.”

“This (system) recognizes the huge potential of water-sourced heat pumps to deliver a low carbon solution to the UK’s heating and cooling demands,” Richard Parry, chief executive of the UK nonprofit Canal and River Trust, said according to BBC News.

“We have a number of innovative projects on our canals and rivers,” Parry continued. "These are delivering benefits for waterside businesses and the environment and proving again that, 200 years after they were built, the waterways are still bringing a whole range of benefits to the nation.”

Big money saver

One particular project is already up and running at the historic Plas Newydd house in Southern Wales. Pipes for the system were laid in the nearby Menai Straits, which separates the Welsh island of Anglesey from mainland Wales. The initial investment in the heating system was around $890,000, but it is expected to save about $59,000 per year in heating costs.

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In June, Britain’s Centre for Sustainable Energy will release a National Het Map that will show which waterways in England have the most potential for the new system. Plans are currently underway to extend the map’s coverage to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


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