Heat pumps require electricity to drive them. However, as the heat comes from the air or ground which is heated by the sun, they are classed as renewable. To reduce carbon emissions, using a 100% renewable electricity tariff is recommended.
Heat pumps absorb the warmth from the external air (air source heat pumps) or the ground (ground source heat pumps) and use a heat exchanger – similar to that used in a fridge but in reverse. The heat is released into air (in units which resemble air conditioning units, if you do not have wet radiators), or into water circulating through central heating radiators, which is distributed around the home.
The running costs are normally similar to gas central heating, so cheaper than heating systems run on oil, LPG or electricity. Larger radiators may be needed to suit running the heating circuit most efficiently at lower temperatures.
Installing a heat pump qualifies for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which replaced the Renewable Heat Incentive in April 2022. Installers registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) can claim the Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant for eligible installations; £5,000 for an air source heat pump and £6,000 for a ground source heat pump. Eligibility includes having a current Energy Performance Certificate without outstanding recommendations for loft insulation, or cavity wall insulation where relevant.
Estimates vary on the typical cost of installing an air source heat pump, ranging from £8,000 to £20,000 according to the size and type of house.
The cost of installation of a ground source heat pump is more expensive, due to the groundworks needed for a trench or borehole. Costs may be from £15,000 upwards as they vary considerably according to the size of the system and the extent of additional work required.
Government funded research has found that heat pumps can be suitable for all property types.
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