The term “grey energy” describes the energy consumption associated with a product over the course of its life – from its production and use to disposal. Critics posit that modern heat pumps perform particularly badly here due to their numerous components and the refrigerants.
The first point applies equally to all central heating systems: regardless of whether a heat pump or gas heating system is used to generate heat, pipes, pumps and heating surfaces are always needed to distribute thermal energy and transfer it to rooms.
Refrigerants are indeed a point of criticism – especially previously widely used fluorinated hydrocarbons (F-gases) such as R-410A, which is 2088 times more harmful to the climate than the same amount of CO2. However, this only applies if it is released into the atmosphere. As heat pumps are closed systems, this does not happen if they are disposed of properly. It is also important to note that the so-called F-gas Regulation is successively banning harmful refrigerants and that subsidy requirements in relation to the use of natural refrigerants promise better conditions.