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Blog Post 1 April 2024 Updated 25 April 2024

Is now a good time to get a heat pump?

Wondering if you should get a heat pump but not sure where to find the right information?

Our energy experts think there has never been a better time to invest in this tried and tested low carbon heating system.

Here are their answers to the most common questions we hear about heat pumps.

Not sure where to start? We’re cutting through the hot air by debunking the myths around heat pumps. Visit our heat pump hub to find out more.

Can a heat pump save me money on my energy bills?

  • If you’re replacing an older, G-rated gas boiler for a well-designed heat pump, you could save £340 a year on your energy bills.*
  • Topping up your home’s wall, floor and loft insulation before installing a heat pump will help reduce its running costs.
  • If you already have solar panels, you can save more by using the free energy they generate to power your heat pump.
    A solar battery can increase your savings even further by storing the sun’s energy to power your heat pump later in the day.

Do I need a lot of space for a heat pump?

  • Air source heat pumps need less outdoor space than two wheelie bins stood side-by-side (around 1.5 metres wide).
  • Heat pumps don’t provide instant hot water like a combi boiler. So you’ll also need space for something that can store hot water.
  • Hot water cylinders are one option. These cylinders can usually fit inside any cupboard that measures around 80x80cm.
  • The government is considering ‘re-balancing’ electricity and gas prices, aiming to make heat pumps cheaper to operate than gas boilers in the future.
  • Remember: not everyone who installs a heat pump will see savings straight away. This is because electricity is currently more expensive than gas. So, if you’re replacing a much newer, more efficient gas boiler for a heat pump, your energy bills aren’t likely to go down just yet.

Can I get money towards a heat pump?

  • Yes – there’s more financial support for heat pumps than ever before.
  • If you live in England and Wales you can get a £7,500 grant towards installing a heat pump with the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
  • If you live in Scotland, grants of between £7,500 and £9,000 are also available.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, there isn’t a specific grant currently available. But you can still ‘get heat pump ready’ and apply for funding for insulation via NI Energy Advice.
  • Energy companies are doing more to make heat pumps more affordable. For example, some suppliers are offering specific electricity tariffs designed to minimise heat pump running costs.
  • We recommend researching all these deals if you’re considering installing a heat pump.

Is there proof that heat pumps work well in cold weather?

  • Air source heat pumps work in cold temperatures. Many people in Europe have recognised this.
  • Norway has heat pumps installed in 60% of its buildings, Sweden has them in 43% and Finland has them in 41%, as reported by the International Energy Agency. All these Scandinavian countries have colder winters than the UK.
  • There are examples here at home in the UK, too.
  • Recent findings from the interim Electrification of Heat Demonstration Project project showed heat pumps performed just as well, and sometimes even better, in homes in Scotland than homes in England. This is despite Scotland generally having colder outdoor temperatures.
  • This suggests that the performance of a heat pump may be influenced more by radiator design and control strategy than on the local weather.
  • If you live in an especially cold area, the installer should design a system that can work in those temperatures. They can also advise on any concerns you have specific to your area.

Are heat pumps noisy?

  • Heat pump units are quieter than people think.
  • The legal limit for an air source heat pump unit is 42 decibels, which is a similar volume to a fridge or gas boiler.
  • If the noise level exceeds this, speak to the installer to check it has been installed correctly or if it’s faulty.
  • Research suggests that you’re more likely to hear traffic outside than your heat pumps. As for your neighbours: they’re more likely to hear your TV or radio than your heat pump.

Does my home need to be well insulated for me to have a heat pump?

  • Heat pumps work in all types of homes and still work well in those that have less insulation.
  • A heat pump installer will assess your home and set your heat pump to work with your house type and heating needs.
  • Heat pumps will work most efficiently if the home is well-insulated, but the same can be said for any heating system.
  • If insulation isn’t easy or appropriate, there are solutions regarding the heat pump.
  • Your installer should be able to design a system that works for your needs. So, if you can’t install insulation, or increase your radiator size, you can use a heat pump that delivers water at a higher temperature.

Will a heat pump really lower my carbon footprint?

  • According to a Climate Change Committee (CCC) report, buildings account for around 17% of the UK’s emissions. Most of this comes from using fossil fuel heating systems in our homes.
  • A 2017 report from the CCC revealed that most residential buildings in Britain (23 million) are connected to the gas grid, using a traditional boiler. Around half a million homes in Northern Ireland rely on oil for heating.
  • In all cases, replacing an existing fossil fuel heating system with a heat pump will save carbon emissions. How much you will save will depend on the size of your home and the type of heating system you’re replacing.
  • A semi-detached home with an old, G-rated gas boiler would save around 2,900kg of CO2 emissions a year by switching to an air source heat pump. That’s the same as flying from Cardiff to Vancouver and back.

How much maintenance do heat pumps need?

  • They’re about as much work to maintain as a gas boiler.
  • We recommend an annual service for heat pumps. This will help you identify any potential issues, and is often a condition of your heat pump warranty.
  • A heat pump service could include:
    • cleaning coils
    • cleaning fan blades
    • inspecting filters
    • checking refrigerant level and pressure
    • checking that all electrical connections are safe
  • Your installer will leave details about how often you should get your heat pump serviced.

Does a heat pump provide hot water?

  • A standard heat pump doesn’t provide hot water on demand like a combi boiler, so you’ll need a way of storing hot water.
  • Usually this is through a hot water cylinder. The size of hot water cylinder required depends on the amount of hot water that your household typically uses.
  •  If you don’t have space for a hot water cylinder, you still have options. Some hybrid heat pumps are designed so that the heat pump provides heating, while other options include a heat battery or an instantaneous water heater.

Should I get a heat pump?

  • We’ve got lots of independent, expert information on heat pumps to help you switch to low carbon heating.
  • Read our heat pumps advice to discover which heat pump is right for you, how much they cost and how much money or carbon you might save.
  • Find out what it’s like to have a heat pump by reading stories from homeowners who’ve already made the move.

*Savings correct as of January 2024 based on a typical three-bedroom semi-detached house in England, Wales or Scotland. Energy costs based on gas and electricity prices set by Ofgem’s price cap running from 1 January 2024 to the end of March 2024 (an electricity price of 28.62p/kWh and a gas price of 7.42p/kWh).

Last updated: 25 April 2024