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Energy Saving Trust
Case study

Mr MacLeod: installing a water source heat pump

Iain's father decided to install a water source heat pump at his home after a friend recommended one to him.

Iain MacLeod is a technical manager in Energy Saving Trust’s Scottish transport team, based in Edinburgh. His father decided to install a water source heat pump at his home after a friend recommended one to him, and Iain helped out with the installation.

Why did you decide to install a heat pump?

A friend had installed one and was singing its praises, especially in relation to financial incentives available. I used a grant available from Energy Saving Trust for installation and will receive payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for seven years.

What was the installation process like?

I contacted someone I knew who had set up a business installing heat pumps and he advised on requirements and relevant contacts. This was to be a water source pump utilising two burns that run through my property. I dug additional ditches linking the burns and, with assistance, installed the pipe which had been supplied by the firm doing the overall installation.

No planning permission was needed, but I did obtain consent from SEPA [the Scottish Environment Protection Agency] to put the pipe in the burns, which had an overall length of approximately 500m.

What’s the main benefit of having a heat pump?

I thought that it be a cost-effective and green way of providing background heating to my house. I was aware that the size of the existing radiators would probably be insufficient to heat the house during very cold weather, given the reduced water temperature that would be available compared to the oil-fired boiler previously used. I did have the option to use a log burning fire if additional heat was required.

What advice would you offer someone considering installing a heat pump?

Heat pumps work best in a new build situation, ideally with underfloor heating. In an existing house, radiators installed for use with gas or oil will probably be undersized given the temperature difference (around 70°C when using gas or oil compared to 40°C with a heat pump).

Having the heat pump running all the time will bring the house to a pleasant temperature for most of the year, but an additional heat source may be required for short periods in a sitting room in cold weather. Another option would be to upgrade the radiators if feasible.

Thinking of installing a heat pump?

Explore our low carbon heating advice pages to find out whether an air source or ground source heat pump could work for you.

Find out more

Last updated: 28 February 2022