While heat pumps have a reputation for being recent discoveries, they’ve actually been around for more than a century. These energy-efficient systems gained much of their traction during the oil crisis in the 1970s. Keep reading to learn more about the fascinating history of heat pumps in Dover, DE.
Initial Heat Pump Influences
One of the major milestones necessary to create heat pumps occurred back in 1748. Scottish physician William Cullen demonstrated the first public instance of artificial refrigeration at that time. This display wasn’t commercially practical but provided a jumping point for future refrigeration efforts.
In 1834, American physicist Jacob Perkins built a feasible refrigerator system using diethyl ether. Engineer Lord Kelvin outlined the essential theories underlying heat pumps only a few years later. By the mid-1850s, pioneer Peter von Rittinger had designed and built the first successful heat pump.
Rittinger performed several experiments exploring the heat produced by vapor while evaporating salt brine. As a result, his initial heat pump effectively dried natural salt from the marshes in Austria.
Significant Heat Pump Developments
The first large-scale heat pump in the United Kingdom wasn’t created until 1945. World War II prevented the Norwich City Council Electrical Department from receiving their traditional heat pump, due to a lack of available resources. City engineer John Sumner hastily put together an efficient system that circulated water around the building’s heating system.
Though this system was rough in design, it provided an unmatched efficiency rate. However, due to the price of fossil fuels, it wasn’t widely applied across the country.
The same issue happened again in the 1950s when Sumner crafted a residential ground source heat pump. It used buried copper pipes that flowed with a particular substance. Keep in mind that all modern heat pumps use refrigerant. This astounding renovation received little recognition then, partly due to the limitless and easily accessible coal supply.
Fortunately, while many of these heat pump advancements didn’t take off in the UK, countries like the United States started using them. For example, the Equitable Building in Oregon built a large-scale ground source system in 1948. Due to its role in pioneering commercial heat pumps, this property became a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark in 1980.
The Generational Impact
Heat pump use didn’t take off until the 1970s following the oil crisis. Before that, widespread adoption was still slow even though these systems offered convenient residential heating options. Baby boomers were becoming first-time homeowners and were mostly using fuel-based furnaces to stay warm during the winter.
The following Generation X witnessed the oil crisis and its resounding financial impact. Heat pumps became more popular as fuel costs increased and oil became unreliable. These systems had a reputation for delivering exceptional heat transfer properties.
However, the full energy conservation movement didn’t gain momentum in the United States until the 1990s. While heat pumps were efficient, beginning variations had seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings of around six or less. When Generation X rallied for more environmentally conscious options, the government raised industry standards so that all heating and cooling systems had to have at least a SEER rating of 10.
In the early 2000s, energy efficiency was a primary goal of Millennials. Throughout the years, the SEER rating minimum requirements increased several times until they reached 14 in 2015 and then changed again in 2023.
In recent years, heat pumps have been further developed to be useful in colder climates. Air source heat pumps, one of the most common models, were initially ideal for milder climates but now serve as a reliable, all-season heating and cooling option. These systems have even gained further energy efficiency benefits with the inclusion of variable or dual-speed blower motors.
Over the decades, heat pumps have become the pinnacle of energy efficiency and optimum indoor comfort. Call the experienced service technicians at Griffith Energy Services today to schedule your heat pump installation appointment.
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