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Heat pumps: what are the next key dates in the EU?

Keeping a comfortable temperature throughout the year has become a must. Not so long ago, people used to just have a stove to heat the house in winter, with temperature control based on their own perception and opening windows when feeling the temperature was too high. Moreover, heating and cooling have been traditionally considered as separate concepts, different fields of study… or even opposing ones! However, the creation of heat pumps in 1940 brought the two together: thanks to the reversibility of the compression refrigeration cycle, it is now possible to heat and cool with just one unit, maintaining the desired indoor temperature regardless of the outdoor temperature! What’s more, the heat can also be recovered and used for domestic hot water production. 

In principle, as the name suggests, a heat pump has the main function of heating. Indeed, according to Ecodesign Regulation 2016/2281, heat pump means an “air heating product of which the evaporator extracts heat from ambient air, ventilation exhaust air, water, or ground heat sources; which has a heat generator that uses a vapour compression cycle or a sorption cycle; of which the condenser releases this heat to an air-based heating system;…”. The regulation also makes reference to the two other functions that a heat pump can have: “…which may be equipped with a supplementary heater; which may operate in reverse in which case it functions as an air conditioner.”1 It should be noted that when a heat pump provides supplementary heat to deliver hot drinking or domestic hot water, the unit is called a heat pump combination heater

The aim of this post is to take a look at the upcoming deadlines as regards energy efficiency requirements for heat pumps, dictated by the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Directives in Europe. For some categories, the new energy efficiency limits have already been in force since 26 September! For others, new requirements are just around the corner: 1 January 2018!! Sellers on the European market: are your products ready??


Ecodesign: 1 January 2018!

There are two Ecodesign regulations that include the requirements for different types of heat pumps: ENER Lot 1 and ENER Lot 21 (Commission Regulations 813/2013 and 2016/281). Both of them, in line with regulations for other HVAC/R applications, establish seasonal energy efficiency limits, thus taking into account the variations in outside air temperature over the year. This brings more precision to the procedure and more advantages from the use of variable speed technology, which is able to adapt consumption to the needs of the application. Moreover, the seasonal energy efficiency values are expressed as a %, being calculated as the reference annual heat demand with respect to the annual energy consumption, corrected by the conversion coefficient:

In other words, a seasonal space heating energy efficiency higher than 100 means that the heat pump consumes less energy than the reference standard heat pump (i.e. the heat pump in question is more efficient). 

In particular, ENER Lot 1 establishes the requirements for space heaters and combination heaters with a rated heat output ≤ 400 kW. These include the seasonal space heating energy efficiency limits for heat pump space heaters, heat pump combination heaters and low-temperature heat pumps. The limits and the deadlines for each type of heat pump are shown in the following table: 

ENER Lot 21 covers air heating products, cooling products, high temperature process chillers and fan coil units. These categories include air-to-air and rooftop heat pumps. The minimum seasonal space heating energy efficiency values that must be met are listed in the following table:

Energy labelling: 26 September 2019

The Energy Labelling regulation that affects heat pumps (811/2013) includes space heaters, combination heaters, packages of space heater, temperature control and solar device, and packages of combination heater, temperature control and solar device. It should be noted that the scope of the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Regulations on space and combination heaters is different. While Ecodesign Regulation ENER Lot 1 covers products with a rated output up to 400 kW, the Energy Labelling Regulation covers products with a rated output up to 70 kW.

The first stage of this energy labelling regulation came into force on 26 September 2015, when energy label became compulsory for heat pump classes A++ to G. The second stage will apply in less than one year: from 26 September 2019, new energy labels for classes A+++-D shall be provided, which means that classes E, F and G will disappear. As in the previous stage, the label will be different for heat pump space heaters, low temperature space heaters and heat pump combination heaters. 

For heat pump space heaters, except for low temperature heat pumps, the label shows the energy classes for medium and low temperature applications. The label with the new energy efficiency classes is shown below, together with the corresponding categories according to seasonal space heating energy efficiency (ŋs).

Low temperature heat pumps will have to include the following label from next year: 

Heat pump combination heaters labels show the class for medium temperature applications and include the energy class for water heating:

Note that according to new European regulation of 4 July 2017, the categories will be rescaled, so that A+++ will become A, A++ will become B, and so on; the labels will thus have the scale A to G. However, the introduction of these new labels for heat pumps is scheduled for the period 2026-2030

To sum up, the Ecodesign and Energy labelling Directives are pushing for the development of more efficient products, which is also affecting heat pumps. In the next three years there will be several deadlines. Next step: 1 January 2018. Are air-to-air and rooftop heat pumps ready to welcome 2018? 


1 There is another category, i.e. “heat pumps” specifically designed for hot water production, called heat pump water heaters.These are not subject to Ecodesign regulation 2016/2281, as their only function is to provide heat for hot drinking or domestic hot water and are not used as space heaters. This category is covered by the requirements for water heaters (Commission Regulations 812/2013 and 814/2013) and are outside of the scope of this post.



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Ecodesign and Energy Labelling: making products smarter



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HI Miriam, very intersting! Thanks for the information and your work to get it! SUPER!!!
Posted on 13/12/17 09:51.
Angela Grayson
Great information! Very interesting content and enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information with us.
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Posted on 06/02/18 06:58.


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