Recently the Government has introduced a number of initiatives that encourage people to make the switch to green heating methods. These can cut the cost of installation, completely cover the cost of your unit, or even pay you to produce your own energy for your home. Whether you are after a new method of heating your home that is more eco-friendly, or if the financial benefits of heat pumps are what attracts you, they can be a great alternative to unsustainable fossil fuels.
How do heat pumps work?
There are two different types of heat pumps: Air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. They work in slightly different ways, with air source heat pumps working more like a fridge by using the external air to heat up the refrigerant inside, whereas ground source heat pumps use heat from the ground instead of air to heat up these pipes. Once the tubes become warm, they then turn the liquid inside into gas, which can then be used for heating your home and providing hot water.
Benefits of heat pumps
This method of off-grid heating is a lot more environmentally friendly than other methods as it uses less energy to operate them. This means that they have an efficiency rating of around 300% as they do not create heat, but instead transfer it from the surrounding environment.
Another benefit of these heat pumps is that they carry no risk of carbon monoxide leaks, a gas that can be incredibly dangerous to human health. They also require little maintenance to keep them running which makes them a great, fuss-free option.
How easy are heat pumps to install?
The installation of a heat pump will be incredibly simple for plumbing and heating engineers, who will be able to use similar methods to the ones that would be used when installing a boiler.
Whilst air source heat pumps look like large fan systems and are a standalone unit that can sit next to your home, ground source pumps require a more invasive installation with trenches and boreholes dug out of the garden so that they can be installed in the ground. For some people this might be off-putting, but when they are fully installed, they are barely detectable and have many other benefits that outweigh the hassle to set up.
Can I install a heat pump myself?
Once you have purchased a heat pump, it is possible to set the unit up on your own. This could save you a significant amount of money as it will save the engineer a lot of time when they first arrive.
It is, however, imperative that you allow a trained engineer to install the heat pump and connect the other parts together. You must employ a licensed electrician to connect the electricity as you will definitely not be able to complete this aspect on your own. If you are unsure on how to do anything in relation to the set-up of the systems, it is highly recommended to wait until the engineer arrives.
Heat pump maintenance
These heat pumps are renowned for their fuss-free maintenance. Ground source heat pumps should be able to last for at least 20 to 30 years and will only require annual maintenance by a professional engineer. Air source heat pumps will only need the filters checking and coils cleaned when necessary (along with an annual service.)
This is relatively easy to undertake yourself without any prior knowledge of air source heat pump units or how they work. Although, as with other methods of energy production, if you spot anything that does not seem right or experience problems with the system, then it is always best to call an engineer who can check for issues that you might not be able to see.
How much do heat pumps cost to buy and install?
One of the biggest cons in regard to heat pumps is their high upfront costs – though this is definitely worth the lifetime of savings on your energy bills. Air source heat pumps cost around £5000 to £8000 depending on the properties size and area.
Because of their invasive nature, ground source heat pumps are double this in price on average, costing between £11,000 and £15,000. It will be more expensive on an existing property where the trenches will need to be dug especially, whilst with new properties
this can be done whilst the foundations are being built.
On top of this, you will most likely have to pay an installation fee, unless the manufacturer includes it in the price of the unit. Ground source heat pumps require more specialist skills and so the installation for these types of units will often cost a significant amount more.
Heat pump savings
The Energy Savings Trust explains that if you currently have a gas boiler, you could save as much as £2000 a year by switching to a heat pump. This would mean that in just 5 years the cost of the heat pump would be covered, and the real savings would begin.
To save even more money, it is recommended to ensure that the insulation of your home is as efficient as it can be. This will mean you use as little energy to heat your home as possible, and because heat pumps require power to work, switching to solar-powered electricity could mean that it will eventually be free to keep your home warm.
Heat pump installation summary
Whether you choose to switch to air source heat pumps or ground source heat pumps, they are a great alternative to fossil fuels that are having devastating effects on the environment. With the number of households using heat pumps doubling in the last 6 years, they are an increasingly popular way to heat the home and are gradually becoming more affordable and easier to install. This has benefited both the homeowners and the engineers who fit the systems as it is quick and fuss-free to install them, with easy yearly maintenance.