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Car dealerships should consider air sourced heat pumps to save on fuel bills, says Viessmann’s technical manager Hugh Jones

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Published: 17 December 2013



Car dealerships spend a colossal amount on energy bills. Keeping a showroom warm is not cheap, especially since so much heat is lost through those crystal-clear windows. 


So what can the managers of car dealerships do to reduce energy costs? Many have been installing air-sourced heat pumps, while others – where it is possible – have been putting in more expensive but vastly more efficient ground-sourced heat pumps. 


In a move to improve the image of profiteering, care-free car dealers, as well as simply to reduce energy costs, some showrooms are turning to these alternative and reasonably well-established technologies.


Motortrades Insight spoke to Viessmann’s Technical Manager and heat pumps expert Hugh Jones to find out more. 


“Heat pumps are just another form of heating,” he said. “It’s just another way of heating a building. It can heat buildings in a less costly way than gas or oil. It does depend on how you install it but it can save costs on fuel bills and can also reduce your carbon emissions.


“My experience of car dealerships and their showrooms is that you’ve got lots and lots of glass and the space is ideally suited to underfloor heating. You haven’t got much space to put radiators or other forms of heating. Underfloor heating in those sorts of places would be quite easy to do but also quite effective.”


Viessmann are a major manufacturer of heat pumps for the commercial and industrial sectors.


“With underfloor heating, which is a low temperature heating, heat pumps work particularly well, so you can get cost savings on your fuel bills over a traditional gas or oil system,” he added. “One of the problems with heat pumps is if you do try and put a heat pump into an existing building which has a heating system which is matched to a traditional boiler system, the chances are you won’t save money and you can in certain cases end up spending more on fuel. 


“You need to be careful about how it’s planned. It lends itself to new buildings, buildings with underfloor heating or low temperature heating.”


Ground sourced or air sourced, essentially it is just a box in which you feed electricity. But which is more cost effective, efficient and most appropriate for car dealerships?


“The air sourced pump takes heat from the air around the building but ground sourced will take heat from the ground around the building – free heat,” Mr Jones said. “I suppose that one of the downsides to ground sourced is that you need a lot of space so you’d need to be putting pipes under the ground. With car dealerships, the plots tend to be quite big.”


Where the plots are large enough for ground sourced heat pumps to be installed, bore holes can be drilled using specialist equipment and ground loops can be put in, but the latter requires a much larger surface area – and could mean digging up asphalt where cars are on display outside the internal showroom. 


It has been an incredibly cold winter so far and just like homeowners, businesses are spending more on fuel bills – due to an increase in the number of cold days and the recent wave of energy price rises by the big electricity and gas providers, who are all quick to blame wholesale prices and solar panel feed-in-tariff schemes. 


“There’s no reason why you couldn’t have a really big ground sourced system but for a small dealership you may be able to use air sourced,” Mr Jones concluded.


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