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Blog Post 3 May 2022 Updated 5 April 2024

Heat pumps for flats, terraced houses and other property types

It’s one of the most common questions about heat pumps that we see – can you install heat pumps in flats? And what types of houses are suitable for heat pumps?

If you think you know the answer, take our quiz, or keep reading to find out more.

Many people think that you need a house with a garden or a fully insulated property to switch to a low carbon heat pump.

But a research project funded by the UK Government has shown that homes of all types – and ages – are suitable for heat pumps.

Here, we share the findings of the project to prove that heat pumps can be successfully installed in homes from every style and era.

Why heat pumps?

The Electrification of Heat demonstration project was funded by what was then the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The aim of the project was to better understand how we can speed up the rollout of heat pumps in homes across the UK.

Tens of thousands of heat pumps have already been installed across the UK. They’re powered by electricity, which is becoming increasingly low carbon as more renewable sources are connected to the grid.

This means that heat pumps have a crucial role to play in helping to decarbonise our heating systems, which is important if the UK is to meet its net zero target in 2050.

About the project

The aim of the project was to install up to 750 heat pumps in three regions across Great Britain:

  • South East of Scotland – led by Warmworks working with Energy Saving Trust and Changeworks.
  • Newcastle – led by E.ON working with Newcastle City Council and Your Homes Newcastle.
  • South East of England – led by Ovo Energy working with Kaluza, RetrofitWorks, Parity Projects and SunAmp.

Between July 2020 and October 2021, 742 heat pumps were installed across these three regions in a wide range of house types. The homes reflected the different properties across the country. Three main types of heat pump were installed:

The results

The project successfully installed heat pumps in every type and age of property targeted. This includes:

  • flats
  • semi-detached homes
  • mid-terraced houses
  • early 20th century detached homes

These results have busted the myth that heat pumps aren’t suitable for all property types.

However, the project did find that there was a greater challenge in designing heat pump systems for older homes (pre-1945).

But 163 heat pumps were successfully installed in these older pre-1945 properties, showing that these challenges can be overcome.

So, no matter what type of home you have or how old it is, a heat pump should work for you. Check out the graph below to see the breakdown of heat pump types by property type.

Can you install a heat pump in a poorly insulated house?

Although not part of the project, this is still one of the more common heat pump questions we get.

Heat pumps still work well in home that have less insulation.

While it’s true that a heat pump is most efficient if your home is well insulated, the same is true for any heating system.

A heat pump installer will assess your home and work out what your heat pump system needs for your house type. For example, if you can’t install insulation, you could increase your radiator size.

You can find out more information on our in-depth heat pump guide.

Interested in finding out more about heat pumps? Check out our heat pump hub, which covers how they work, the different types available, as well as real-life case studies of people who are living with one.

Last updated: 5 April 2024