Just read an amusing article in the Guardian about using your lawn to heat your home, based on the concept of heat pumps.
With fossil fuels becoming alarmingly expensive, this environmentally friendly and low-cost alternative to gas central heating is finally coming into its own in the UK. It is incrediblyeffective, capable of achieving 400% efficiency – giving out more energy (typically 3 to 4 kilowatts) than the householder puts in to run it (typically 1KW). By comparison, an average gas boiler works at 90% efficiency at best.
According to Professor David Reay, of Heriot-Watt University, an expert on heat pumps, little can be said against them. Variants that extract heat from outside air perform less well in cold weather, just when the heat is needed most.
I thought the close of the article was insightful:
So if heat pumps are such a great idea, why haven’t they caught on before? “Gas has been cheap, and the British are capital-averse,” sighs Tony Bowen [president of the Heat Pumps Association, the UK trade body]. “As a nation, we are bad at investing in low long-term running costs.”
It goes far beyond the nation…but it is good to see the UK seeking less dependence on oil as well as more distributed/resiliant sources of energy.