Energy Infrastructure

Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

It is conceded that the first place to focus on when building an energy efficient home is the building itself.  You want a well insulated, tightly built structure with low infiltration.  You will also want to consider passive solar designs that take into account site orientation, window size and placement and the eve’s of the roof.

After those items are decided upon the next thing people generally look at is the energy efficiency of the mechanical system that will condition the space.  The industry offers these mechanical devices and the customer makes their choice.

Lets take a closer look at that.  Energy efficiency the relationship between energy input and energy output.  Things that burn fuel will convert a certain percentage of the fuel into heat energy that is delivered.  Some of the energy from the fuel goes out the flue and is lost.  A fuel burning device that delivers 95% of the energy it uses is considered “very” efficient.

Now consider heat pumps.  Heat pumps scavenge and concentrate thermal energy.  They use electricity to do this.  Air source heat pumps use the ambient outdoor air as their energy interface.  Ground source heat pumps use the earth as their energy interface.  Both have exactly the same internal process, it is the energy elements that they interact with that makes them different from each other.

When a heat pump is using electricity to scavenge and concentrate thermal energy it is also measured by the standard method of energy input vs. energy output.  Ground source heat pumps can achieve efficiencies of 400% and higher because the earths temperature is relatively moderate.  It can take 1 KWH of electrical input and deliver 4 KWH of thermal energy into a load.  Air source heat pumps can also do this but the problem is that their “source” is always in opposite thermal condition as their load.  (Very cold outside= big heating load and low quality scavenging conditions.  Very hot outside = big cooling load and bad heat rejection conditions)

A thermal battery system is energy infrastructure.  It is used to moderate and improve the conditions that the heat pump will be dealing with.  By investing in energy infrastructure you turn the “ground source” heat pump into a multi-source-conditions-optimized-heat-pump.

It is my belief that the process should not go straight from the passive infrastructure elements of a home to the efficiency of the mechanical devices that can be used.  I say the focus should start with passive infrastructure, move on to active infrastructure and then move to the mechanical devices.

Energy infrastructure is not expensive and it is not complicated.  Give us a call today and get a quote on a thermal battery.  Your heat pump will thank you.


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