Cooling with the heat pump

Oil heating, gas heating and heat pumps can all provide heating. However, this is where the similarities end. Because the heat pump is not only the more efficient and climate-friendly heating system, it also ensures pleasant room temperatures in summer. In this guide, you can find out how this works, what active and passive cooling mean and why you should ideally have underfloor heating and photovoltaics on the roof in addition to the heat pump.

Climate-friendly protection against heat in the home

"It used to be hot in summer too!" True, but not so often. The number of summer days and days with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius has been steadily increasing for decades.

If the room temperature is too high, we feel uncomfortable, are less efficient, sleep less well and are more likely to suffer from circulatory problems. As this trend is set to continue in the coming years, you should make your home as heat-ready as possible. What does summer heat protection involve?

First and foremost, of course, good thermal insulation of windows, walls and roof. After all, what keeps the heat in during the winter keeps the heat out during the summer. External sun protection in front of the windows provides an additional layer of insulation and, together with intelligent ventilation, especially night-time ventilation, is one of the most effective measures against high room temperatures. When all this no longer helps, the heat pump with its cooling function comes into play.

It has a clear advantage over air conditioning: while the latter requires constant electricity for its operation in summer, the heat pump mainly uses environmental energy for cooling, which is available free of charge and inexhaustible.

Advantages of cooling with heat pump

  • Climate-friendly alternative to air conditioning through the use of renewable energies.
  • Living spaces can be cooled down quickly on hot summer days with active cooling.
  • Cooling with a heat pump does not create any annoying draughts. It cools the home gently and constantly.
  • Low operating costs: The heat pump requires less electricity than an air conditioning system to cool rooms in summer.
  • Passive cooling with the geothermal heat pump saves a lot of costs, as only the control and circulation pump of the heat pump are in operation.

How cooling with heat pumps works

Whether new build or renovation, the unique technology of the heat pump makes it possible to cool in summer. Instead of distributing hot water through your heating system as with heating, the heat pump cools down the heating fluid and passes "cold" water through instead. Conventional radiators are not suitable for cooling with the heat pump due to their small surface area. However, the room can be cooled comfortably using surface heating systems such as underfloor heating, wall heating or ceiling heating. A basic distinction must be made between two forms of cooling with the heat pump: active cooling and passive cooling.

Active cooling with heat pump

If you know the operating principle of the heat pump, you will know that it is nothing more than a reverse refrigeration machine. In the refrigerator, the heat is dissipated from the interior, while the heat pump transports the thermal energy from the air, earth or groundwater into the house. With active cooling, we reverse the system. In so-called reversible air/water heat pumps, the flow direction of the refrigerant and thus the heating function can be changed to active cooling. Similar to an air conditioning system, heat is then extracted from the room.

If you opt for a heat pump with active cooling, you must expect slightly higher investment costs than with a heat pump without a "cooling function". The consumption of electricity is also higher with active cooling compared to passive cooling, as the compressor has to be driven. However, higher cooling capacities can be achieved and the room temperatures are pleasantly cool even in the height of summer.

Wärmepumpe LWD Neubau

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Passive cooling with heat pump

With this natural cooling, only the control and the circulation pump of the heat pump operate. The energy-intensive compressor is switched off. Passive cooling is therefore particularly environmentally friendly and saves costs. The technical principle is very simple: there is a heat exchanger at the heat sink - the temperature in the ground or groundwater is around 10 degrees Celsius all year round - and a heat exchanger in the house. They are connected by pipes in which brine or water circulates, driven by the circulation pump. The system removes the warm air from the rooms into the ground and supplies cool air. Only the operation of the circulation pump requires a small amount of electricity.

Natural cooling can also improve the overall efficiency of your ground source heat pump. As the ground is regenerated by the heat supplied and the ground warms up, the temperature spread in winter is smaller, meaning your heat pump needs less power to heat your rooms. The annual coefficient of performance increases and your heating costs fall.

How much electricity do you save compared to an air conditioner?

In any case, quite a lot. Alexander Sperr, Technikexperte beim Bundesverband Wärmepumpe e.V, writes: "Compared to traditional cooling via split air conditioning units, chillers or VRF systems, cooling via heat pumps is relatively inexpensive. Passive cooling of an office building can save up to 80 % of cooling costs and active cooling can save around 20 %."

If you generate the electricity required for the heat pump with your own photovoltaic system on the roof, you are practically cooling your rooms for free. Especially in summer, the solar system often produces more energy than you can consume.

The right radiators for cooling

To be able to cool actively or passively with heat pumps, you need the right heating system. Existing surface heating systems such as underfloor heating, wall heating or ceiling heating can be used as cooling surfaces. In this way, you can use your heat pump to generate pleasant room temperatures in a cost-effective, environmentally friendly and gentle way without any annoying draughts. Radiators, on the other hand, are usually unsuitable for use due to their small surface area. In this guide, we have compiled everything you need to know about operating heat pumps with conventional radiators, underfloor heating and other panel heating systems.

Choosing the right heat pump is also an important criterion, as not every heat pump can cool or be retrofitted. Therefore, clarify together with an experienced specialist installer which heat pump suits your requirements.

alpha innotec offers air/water heat pumps and ground source heat pumps for active and passive cooling. Our ultra-modern and efficient Hybrox heat pump is a clear recommendation as a replacement for a fossil heating system such as gas or oil heating or a conventional air conditioning system. It can heat and cool and even provide your hot water. Of course, it can communicate with photovoltaics for optimum heating and cooling and, as it is operated with natural propane refrigerant, you can be sure of a 5 percent efficiency bonus from the state subsidy!

By the way: We have special cooling packages for retrofitting some geothermal heat pumps. Just get in touch with us! We will be happy to advise you without obligation.