31 August 2021

Paper No 275 – Heat pumps in existing residential buildings – 13th IEA Heat Pump Conference, Jeju, Korea


Several reasons speak for using of heat pumps in residential buildings. They can provide heating, domestic hot water und cooling in an ecologically friendly and, in the majority of countries, an economical way. Particularly straightforward is the implementation in new residential buildings, typically equipped with a low temperature underfloor heating system. In a number of European countries heat pumps are the predominant heating technology in the new residential buildings.

However, the real challenge, as regards reaching the goals related to climate changes and higher energy efficiency, is to secure heating in existing residential buildings. Despite several technological solutions allowing for implementation of heat pumps in existing buildings, the number of end consumers choosing heat pumps when replacing an old heating system is still very low.

What is the minimal energetic standard of a building suitable for a heat pump? Are heat pumps able to deliver required temperature and expected thermal comfort? What is the efficiency achieved under real operation conditions? When are heat pumps better than fossil systems from energetical, ecological and economical point of view? Is technological development of heat pumps in recent years recognizable in the real field operation?

The author will attempt to answer these questions on the basis of the evaluation of the latest field monitoring program encompassing more than 60 single-family existing residential buildings in Germany.