Aerothermal energy units on the roof of a building

All about aerothermal energy and its benefits

Solutions for heating and cooling our homes

One of the most important aspects for being able to enjoy our homes to the fullest is maintaining a comfortable temperature at all times, regardless of the season. However, cooling our homes in the summer or heating them when the temperatures start to drop can be quite costly, not just financially but on the environment, too. As a solution to this problem, aerothermal systems can represent one of the most sustainable, efficient, and affordable solutions for heating and cooling homes and buildings. But what exactly is aerothermal energy?

What is aerothermal energy?

Aerothermal energy, or an air source heat pump, is a system that provides cooling in the summer, heating in the winter, and domestic hot water (DHW) throughout the year. It works by extracting energy from the air through a system of electric heat pumps.

It uses a thermodynamic cycle that extracts heat from the outside air and introduces it into an indoor space, or extracts indoor air and transfers it outside when necessary. Aerothermal systems can extract up to 75% of energy from outside air, which significantly reduces electricity consumption in homes and buildings (in fact, half of electricity consumption in Europe is used for heating and cooling).

Aerothermal systems can sustainably and efficiently heat and cool spaces. Aerothermal generators are made up of an outdoor unit with a heat pump that extracts the heat from the air along with another indoor unit in the building that heats and stores water. This water is later used to heat and cool the space though radiators or underfloor heating, and it can also be used for domestic hot water.

How does aerothermal energy work?

The system works like this:

how aerothermal energy works
  1. The aerothermal heat pump captures the energy (heat) from the outside air and blows it over a very cold refrigerant that warms up.
  2. The heat pump's outside unit sends this energy to the home or building's interior unit, which heats the water to in turn heat the home and provide DHW.
  3. When it comes to cooling the house instead of heating it, the above process is reversed: the heat from the interior of the home is sent outside and cool air is produced and distributed over fan coils or used to cool the inside via the underfloor heating.

Aerothermal energy with solar panels, an even more sustainable solution

On top of all the previously mentioned benefits, aerothermal energy is just lacking one component to become 100 % renewable: its combination with solar panels. By joining photovoltaic and aerothermal energy, the benefits of both are multiplied, both in terms of savings for your pocketbook as well as for the environment, as it implies self-consumption not just of electricity but also for heating and cooling and hot water.

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But how do the two systems work together to maximize efficiency?

  • Programmable consumption. This way, it's possible to coordinate heating and cooling times when the photovoltaic system is generating the most energy.
  • Stored energy. Excess energy from the photovoltaic installation is stored and used at later times in the aerothermal system.

Today, there are aerothermal systems that are specially designed to be integrated with photovoltaic installations. They are capable of storing excess electricity to heat water and storing the water to be used later. Additionally, some hybrid smart systems integrate weather prediction functions for estimating the energy that the solar panels will produce and allowing the heat pump to make decisions based on the anticipated energy production.

All of these advances allow aerothermal systems to take even greater advantage of the electricity produced by the photovoltaic system: production is no longer limited to supplying power to appliances and lighting but also to heat and cool and provide renewable, sustainable hot water.