Pumping up the warmth...

Heat pumps are usually associated with pool heating in the Algarve, but they can also provide highly cost-efficient warm water for radiator or underfloor heating.

Mitsubishi's innovative Ecodan system is available through Penguin. Comprising an externally-fitted machine, identical in appearance to an air-con system, its principle of operation is similar but reversed, extracting low-grade heat from the outdoor ambient air and concentrating or 'upgrading' it to supply warm water for heating.

So effective is this process that its CoP rating (Coefficient of Performance) is between 3-4, i.e. for every 1kW of electricity the system consumes, it gives out at least 3kW of heating energy. A heat pump therefore operates at a significantly lower cost than a gas bolier. The system works year-round, even if the outdoor temperature should drop to minus 15ºC – anyway impossible in the Algarve's mild climate.

Penguin has installed a number of Ecodan systems, with home owners reporting highly satisfactory results, low heating bills and an excellent return on investment.