This is becoming a very popular question in recent times with all the new stories surrounding heat pumps and plans to phase out the installation of new Gas boilers in the near future. We have outlined some of the key points and questions surrounding heat pumps.
Will it be cheaper to run than a gas boiler?
Heat pumps are estimated to be three times more efficient than gas boilers, but they do use electricity to run, currently electricity prices are typically more expensive than gas.
However, given the high price of gas, heat pumps could still work out cheaper especially long term. A natural gas boiler has a heat exchanger that is in the gas combustion chamber. As water passes through the heat exchanger it absorbs heat from the burning gas and the the heat exchanger is so efficient that around 90% of the energy from the gas is absorbed into the water.
In contract the heat delivered to the home from heat pumps can be 300% to 500% more than the electricity used. For example, if the heat pump used 1kWh of electricity it can produce 3kWh of heat.
At the moment the switch from gas to a heat pump may not make financial sense, but as the energy cost gap closes and gas prices near electricity, the numbers will certainly become more favorable for heat pumps.
It a heat pump more expensive that a gas boiler?
In short yes, firstly when installing a new heat pump in an existing property you will need to upgrade all the radiators and a large percentage of the pipework. You can expect to pay between £8,000 to £16,000 for an air source heat pump on a new build property and anywhere up to £25,000 on an existing property.
However, a standard combi boiler is likely to cost between £700 to £2,000 depending on the make and model. Installation will cost roughly a further £1,000 making the total cost between £1,700 and £3,000.
It is worth noting heat pumps are slowly coming down in price as technology advances and that should continue to come down.
Are there any schemes or help with getting a heat pump installed?
The boiler upgrade scheme (BUS) was announced in 2021 to help reduce the cost of more environmentally friendly heating systems. It formally replaced the renewable heat incentive (RHI) in April 2022.
Grants are available to existing homes and non-domestic building in England and Wales.
What are the grants?
If eligible you will get:
- £5,000 off the cost and installation of an Air Source Heat Pump
- £5,000 off the cost and installation of a Biomass boiler
- £6,000 off the cost and installation of a Ground Source Heat Pump
Eligibility requirements for heat pump grants
You may be eligible if you:
- Live in England or Wales
- Own your own property (Home or small non-domestic property)
(Private landlords and second-home owners are eligible)
- An installation capacity up to 45kWh (this covers most homes)
- A current energy performance certificate (EPC) issued in the last 10 years
- No outstanding recommendations for Loft or Cavity wall insulation on the EPC.
The new heating system must:
- Have been commissioned on or after 1 April 2022.
- Be capable of meeting the full space heating and hot water requirements of your property.
- Replace an existing fossil fuel heating system i.e. Gas
- Meet certain technical standards, such as efficiency requirements, your installer will advise you on these.
How does the heat pump scheme work?
Firstly, its always worth seeking out multiple quotes to make sure you are getting the best value for money.
You need to find a MCS certified installer that can carry out the work, the MCS quality assurance scheme ensure that installers are competent, and the products they use meet the correct standards.
The installer will advice you on whether an installation will be eligible for a grant, if so you agree to receive a quote for the installation.
The installer will then apply for the grant, Ofgem will contact you directly usually by email where you will then confirm the installer is acting on your behalf.
Ofgem may also want to check the installation, either by a phone call or a visit to the property.
Heat Pump FAQs
Usually, the process is completed within 3 days, as you need to install an outdoor unit and an indoor one in place of the device previously used. For a ductless system, it may take just one day while it takes longer for ground source heat pumps, especially if you need to dig a borehole
The average lifespan of a heat pump is 15 to 20 years if they are constantly being monitored and preventive maintenance is performed.
It is not useful and unproductive to use the heat pump as a normal radiator. When it is set to a high temperature, the device is put under strain as it tries to absorb the heat from the air needed to reach such a high temperature. It is much more efficient to set the temperature to the required level and let it become warm: it will be faster and it will save energy.
Yes, it is provided the house is well insulated and the system correctly installed.
All heating system products make some noise, but heat pumps are usually quieter than fossil fuel boilers.