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Scientists unveil revolutionary heat pump that doesn't use air: 'At the heart of it is the same technology'

It's already being trialed at an affordable housing project.

It's already being trialed at an affordable housing project.

Photo Credit: Vital Energy

Heat pumps are widely recognized by experts as the most environmentally friendly method of heating and cooling your home. Now, researchers at Edinburgh University in Scotland have come up with a similar home heating/cooling method that uses water instead of air, the Guardian reported.

As water tends to have a more predictable temperature than outside air, the new system works even better, the team responsible for its design said.

"It's about trying out a whole series of constellations, but at the heart of it is the same technology," said Professor Chris McDermott, the project's lead designer from the Edinburgh School of GeoSciences. 

The system designed by the Edinburgh team of hydrogeologists isn't just theoretical. It's already being trialed at an affordable housing project close to the Firth of Forth, at a lead-mining museum in southwest Scotland, and at a commercial greenhouse in Fife — another trial at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick is soon to follow. All of the systems draw energy from the sea or nearby rivers.

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The devices are designed to be compact and easily portable for use in homes and smaller buildings located in coastal areas or anywhere with easy access to a water source.

In addition to saving energy, reducing air pollution, and avoiding dirty fuel, installing a heat pump for your home can save you a lot of money — potentially around $1,000 per year on energy bills. In the United States, you can also get tax credits and incentives for installing one.

People who have taken the plunge and installed a heat pump seem to be satisfied with how they work and the savings they're accruing.

The Edinburgh team behind the water-powered heat pump predicted similar long-term savings. One of the team members, hydrogeologist Gus Fraser-Harris, told the Guardian that the system would be more expensive than an air-source heat pump but cheaper than a ground-source heat pump once it becomes publicly available.

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