Jun 2020 Heat Pumps

With the topic of global warming never out of the headlines, many people are doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprints. One option that is growing increasingly popular is to install a heat pump in the home.

Next time you’re considering getting a new boiler installed, or repairing your existing boiler, you might want to consider a heat pump. But what exactly are they? And is a heat pump the right choice for your property? Here we take a closer look.

Heat Pumps: The Cleaner, Greener Heat Source

Heat pumps are an alternative to gas boilers for heating the home. There are two main types:

  • Ground source (or geothermal) heat pumps
  • Air heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps harness heat from the ground. Pipes containing fluid are placed in deep trenches, and the fluid is warmed by the soil, where the temperature stays even throughout the year even when the air temperature is much lower.

The heat is then transferred into a pump where it is used to warm up a refrigerant. The refrigerant is compressed until it is warm enough to be used in the heating system, and the hot water then heats up the home via the radiators.

Air source heat pumps use a similar principle, but they take heat energy from the air outside instead of the ground. They do this through a large fan positioned on the side of the house, which sucks in the air and absorbs heat from outside to warm the home.

It’s possible to get heat from the air outside even in low temperatures. Again, the warmth is taken at a low temperature and absorbed into a fluid before being passed through a compressor. The heat is then transferred to the hot water system.

What Are the Costs Involved?

While heat pumps can save you anything from £200 to £300 a year on your heating bills, they don’t come cheap. If you think your boiler is about to break down and you want to consider your options, you need to know how much you will spend by choosing a heat pump.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, a ground heat pump can cost anywhere between £10,000 and £18,000. An air pump will normally be cheaper, and installation is much quicker. However, it could still cost up to about £6,000 to £8,000 to install a system.

Due to the costs involved, heat pumps can be difficult for many homeowners to afford. However, you may be able to get financial help in the form of a government grant.

The Renewable Heat Incentive provides yearly grants to homeowners that could save you thousands of pounds. Use the online calculator to find out how much you could save.

Space Requirements

Another important consideration is the amount of space required for a heat pump. A ground pump requires lots of space for the pipes to be installed. For that reason, it is often more suitable if you live in the countryside and have a large garden. However, new developments can also be suitable.

The space where the pipes will be installed will also require good accessibility because you will need to get the digging equipment to it.

An air heat pump does not have the same space requirement. All you will need is the available space on your property for the fan to be installed.

Key Consideration: Insulation

One thing you should always consider before installing a heat pump is how energy efficient your home is. Quite simply, if your home is not well insulated, you won’t feel the benefits of the heat pump.

It’s much cheaper and more effective to insulate your property before you install a heat pump. But if your home is already well insulated, you can start thinking about installing one.

Type of Heating in Your Home

Heat pumps can work with both underfloor heating and radiators. However, they are most effective with underfloor heating. This is because radiators require the water to be heated to a higher temperature. However, this does not mean you cannot use a heat pump with radiators.

Time to Get a Heat Pump?

Are heat pumps suitable for your home? In short, if you live in an old building or a badly insulated building, and you have radiators rather than underfloor heating, a heat pump may not be suitable.

However, if you live in a well-insulated property, you have the space available and you want to save money on your heating bills – while reducing your environmental impact – a heat pump can be a great choice.

Speak to a specialist heat pump engineer to find out whether a heat pump is a good option for your home.