Heating radiator in office, close up. White heat exchangers. Iron aluminium steam radiator. Pipe pattern.

Retrofitting Hydronic Heating System with Heat Pumps

What’s a Hydronic Heating System?

Over the last weeks, Evolved Thermal Energy has received numerous calls for homes with existing hydronic heating systems (radiators or infloor heating) looking to retrofit with heat pumps. These are exciting opportunities as a Heat Pump system (when properly designed) can provide significant benefits to these applications. Lower heating costs, zero-emissions operation, and domestic hot water production are only some benefits. But what is a Hydronic Heating System? Glad you asked! Hydronic heating is a system(s) that uses water as the prime mover of heating energy throughout the home. In Canada, most houses use air as that prime mover. Typically, you’ll find ductwork throughout homes with heated and cooled Air transported to the home’s different rooms (zones) by a blower inside a furnace – we call these forced air systems.

Heat Pumps for Hydronic Heating

With a Hydronic system, a circulator (pump) will transport system water to various heat emitters in the zones throughout the home. We find houses with all types of heat emitters, including; baseboard-style radiators and cast-iron radiators. Newer homes may utilize in-floor heating. There are also various installation methods for each of these systems that we must consider in our design process. Electrifying any type of hydronic or forced air heating system is possible. With either approach, we must pay special attention to the heat distribution components to ensure they are appropriately suited for a heat pump. Heat emitters connected to a fossil fuel boiler system are sized based on a higher temperature system water supply than a typical heat pump can provide. There are “high temperature” heat pumps. However, the performance of these systems at said high temperatures make a strong case for optimizing the heat emitter and distribution system to one capable of operating at a lower temperature with a heat pump. The “coefficient of performance” (COP) describes the heat pump’s efficiency, and it shows us that the lower the temperature rise, the higher the efficiency, and the greater the return on investment for the homeowner.

Data Driven Approach to Design

Evolved Thermal Energy uses a data-driven approach to system design. When you retrofit a hydronic heating system to a heat pump, the process requires more data to design than a conventional fossil fuel based retrofit. When we encounter existing fossil-based hydronic systems, we’ll generally steer the homeowner through one of our Heat Pump Pathways using our concierge service. We’ll get as much of the data collected as we can upfront, then coordinate with our installing contractor network to ensure they prepare a cost-competitive proposal and, inevitably, a successful installation.

Evolved Thermal Energy Qualified Contractor Network

Whether you have ductwork or a hydronic system, if you’d like to explore converting your home heating and cooling systems to an electrified system with a Heat Pump, Evolved Thermal Energy is the place to start! Qualify your home to get started today! As an added bonus, the Canada Greener Homes Program currently provides up to $5600 in Rebates, and access to a $40,000, 0% interest loan. There’s never been a better time to retrofit your hydronic heating to a heat pump from Evolved Thermal Energy.

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