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Saving energy at home

Let's talk about heat pumps

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is an alternative to a boiler. It generates heat to warm your house. Heat pumps take heat from ground, water, or air outside, and transfer it into your home. 

In most homes, a professionally installed heat pump could help you save money on energy bills while being more considerate to the planet.

How does a heat pump work?

Can a heat pump save me money?

Heat pumps vs boilers

Support available for energy saving home improvements

How does a heat pump work?

Moving heat from the outside, in

Heat pumps work similarly to a fridge but in reverse. They move heat from outdoors into your house. They can also remove excess heat from your house to keep it cool. Different heat pumps use different sources of heat.

The estimated costs of the different types of heat pump stated in this article were taken from the Energy Saving Trust.

Air-to-water heat pump

An air-to-water heat pump transfers heat from the outside air to water. It can then be used to heat your home through radiators or underfloor heating. An air-to-water heat pump can be used to heat your water. This is the most common heat pump in the UK.

The costs are between £7,000 and £13,000.

Ground-to-water heat pump

A ground-to-water heat pump extracts heat from the ground into a fluid, which then heats up your radiators or underfloor heating. This heat pump can also heat your water.

The costs usually range between £14,000 and £19,000. However, the actual cost will depend on the type of your property and the required groundwork.

Air-to-air heat pump

An air-to-air heat pump is suitable for smaller properties. It uses a fan system for heating and cooling your home. However, air-to-air heat pumps don't heat water.

The advantages of air-to-air heat pumps are the easy installation and lower costs, which could be between £1,600 and £3,100.

Can a heat pump save me money?

Heat pumps could help you save money on energy bills. However, it is important to consult one or more certified installers to make sure it is a suitable heating system for your home.

The amount of money you could save from switching to heat pump will depend on several factors. These include:

  1. 01

    The climate where you live. Heat pumps can extract heat in temperatures as low as -15C. However, the amount of electricity required could increase in lower temperatures as the heat pump would need to work harder. 

  2. 02
  3. 03

    Your current heating system. Most heat pumps use radiators and underfloor heating. However, to avoid inefficiencies, you might need to adjust your heating system when installing a heat pump. For example, smaller radiators may make the heat pump work harder than larger radiators. 

  4. 04

    How well your house is insulated. Preventing the heat from escaping through your walls, roof and floors will make your home more energy efficient. Heat pumps deliver medium heat continuously. Therefore, your property will need to be well insulated to fully benefit from the heat pump's higher efficiency.

Heat pumps vs boilers

Heat pumps could significantly lower your carbon footprint as they use renewable energy to heat your home, rather than oil and gas. However, the suitability of a heat pump or a boiler for your home depends on various factors. If you are considering to switch to a heat pump heating system, make sure you consult a certified heat pump installer.

Better for the planet

Heat pumps can be powered by solar panels or other sources of renewable energy which makes them a better option for the planet. Rather than burning fuel, heat pumps use electricity for power and produce much more energy than they consume.

The efficient use of energy means that, compared to traditional boilers, less carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced in the process of heating your home.

Costs and support

Heat pumps can cost more than a boiler, but have lower operating costs. 

To support the government's ambition to install only low carbon heating systems from 2025, financial support is available. This means you could be eligible for financial support to help you switch to a heat pump.

Efficiency

Heat pumps are highly efficient as they can generate between 3-4 times more energy than they consume.

The exact energy savings will depend on your home's current heating system and insulation.

Support for energy saving home improvements

The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive offers money to support renewable heating systems. The scheme supports various technologies including air-to-water and ground-to-water heat pumps. You can apply if you live in England, Scotland or Wales.

England and Wales

If you live in England, you could be eligible for Green Homes Grant scheme.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) is a scheme offered in England and Wales. Starting in April 2022, BUS will offer a £5,000 grant to replace traditional boilers with low-carbon heating alternative.

If you live in Wales, the Nest scheme helps with funding energy efficient improvements in low income households. They also offer free and impartial advice on energy and water saving.

Scotland

If you live in Scotland, Home Energy Scotland offers funding and loans supporting energy efficient measures.