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What are heat pumps? Sustainable heating options for your apartment

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Sustainable heating at home

Last year, more heat pumps were installed across Germany than ever before. Heating via an air, water or geothermal heat pump is more sustainable and climate-friendly than conventional methods. BEG subsidies such as replacement premiums (Austauschprämien) offered by the German government incentivize homeowners to use environmentally friendly options by reducing the initial cost of a geothermal heat pump. The approach is to draw heat from the immediate environment of the property. This is done from the earth, the air, or via groundwater. Since temperatures in this country are constant, especially in the earth, pumps that use geothermal heat have become popular in Germany.

Save heating costs with heat pumps

Geothermal heat pumps extract heat from the ground via a deep collector. Alternatively, it is possible to use a heat pump with a deep borehole. Both variants are used to extract heat from the earth using technical means. The technology is not new and is also used, among other things, in refrigerators, where a heat exchanger conducts the heat from the inside and leads it to the outside. The geothermal heat pump uses the extracted heat as an energy source. The amount of electricity required for this purpose is significantly lower than for traditional methods, which is why this approach to heat generation is more environmentally friendly and less expensive. Due to government subsidies and favorable credit conditions, the costs of a geothermal heat pump are also lower, and they also help to increase the value of the property.

You can heat your home cheaper and more sustainably with a heat pump.

Which heat pump is best?

Water-to-water heat pump

Here, the pump uses the heat of the groundwater, which is transported from the earth via a well with the help of a suction pump. Since groundwater rarely has a temperature lower than 10 degrees Celsius, even in winter, it is suitable for heat generation. The pump extracts thermal energy from the water. This process is usually used to power wall or floor heating systems.

Air-to-air heat pump

In this type of air-source heat pump, heat is extracted from the surrounding air. Unlike the air-to-water pump, it does not require a refrigerant. Instead, it takes the heat from the stale room air and transfers it to the draft air via a plate heat exchanger. This provides a gradual heating of the air in the room.

Brine-water heat pump

Here, the energy is absorbed via flat plate collectors or ground probes for brine-to-water heat pumps. Both forms are provided with a brine liquid that circulates in the pipes and absorbs the heat energy. The heat from the ground is directed to the refrigerant, which evaporates and is compressed by a compressor. This increases the pressure and also the temperature. The variants with surface collector are also known as direct evaporator heat pumps. The advantages of the brine-to-water heat pump are mainly the quasi-free heat source and the high operational reliability.

Air-to-water heat pump

The air-to-water heat pump is particularly popular and can be used for new or renovated old buildings. Their installation is particularly uncomplicated, and they are also space-saving. The pump draws in air from the environment via a fan, transfers it to an evaporator and converts it into heat in a similar way to the brine-to-water pump. The pump can be installed inside or outside the house.

Purchase costs and subsidies

The cost of purchasing and installing a heat pump varies and depends on the type of unit, the ventilation system and installation, and the accessories needed. However, five-digit sums should generally always be factored in. In order to cushion the acquisition costs of a geothermal heat pump, it is advisable to keep an eye on the subsidies offered by the German government. An entitlement to this exists if at least half of the pump is to be used for combined water heating and space heating or only for space heating, retrofitting of bivalent systems with such a pump or for the provision of process heat and heat for heating networks. Depending on the system, the subsidy can cover between 35% and 50% of the total costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Written by:

Stefanie Aust, Guest Writer

Stefanie loves to put complex topics from the real estate world into understandable and inspiring words. Whether it's about the right financing, choosing the right type of flat, or a successful property search: Stefanie is happy to inform you.

Immowelt-Partner EVERESTATE GmbH

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