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Is my home suitable for heat pumps?

Is my home suitable for heat pumps?

As the UK slowly makes a marked shift towards the ultimate government imposed goal of being ‘net zero’ by 2050 the way we heat our homes has been coming under much scrutiny and proposals for future home heating has been very interesting to say the least!

Heat pumps are an excellent choice for homes which are already highly energy efficient. For example a newly build property. New build homes are very well insulated and designed to house low carbon heating systems.

In order to work efficiently heat pumps tend to operate at a much lower temperature than a standard gas or oil boiler. Heat pumps operate at around 40° where as a boiler is typically 70° – 75°. Therefore unless your home has been correctly prepared you will most likely struggle with a heat pump as put simply the heat loss will be too high.

Installing a heat pump in an existing home?

Here is the issue; by its very nature and beauty the UK’s housing stock is diverse and intricate spanning over several centuries.  The overwhelming majority of UK homes were not designed to be insulated to the max because they didn’t need to be. Standard boilers are designed to switch on and off intermittently as and when the temperature drops. Heat pumps are designed to stay on but at lower temperatures.

Experts have found around 80% of UK homes would not fare well with a heat pump unless prior to installation an array of insulation works are undertaken.  In fact rural homes are the worse hit with the vast majority (87%) not suitable for heat pump technology in their current state according oil heating technicians (OFTEC) who are working in rural homes day in day out.

Are heat pumps the right solution for your home?

Installation of an air source heat pump (ground source is much more) is between £9,000 – £19,000. This is without considering insulation and other improvements such as double glazing. These measures are both very costly and highly disruptive. In fact even getting a home to an Energy Performance certificate (EPC) to the acceptable band C  can be as much as £18,900 before the heat pump is even factored in.

Therefore whilst yes, a heat pump can be installed in almost any property in order for them to work effectively then a property needs to be very well insulated to prevent heat escaping.

Existing radiators may also not be suitable to provide enough heat for your home due to the lower temperatures of a heat pump, therefore larger radiators may be required. Grant UK technical design  manager Stuart McWhinnie states ‘As a general rule you can expect to fit a radiator two and a half times larger than normal to provide the same heat output.’

Questions to ask yourself, about your homes suitability for heat pumps

Is your home well insulated?

Yes!

Great! The more insulated your home is the better it is at retaining heat which is good for a heat pump as they operate on a much lower temperature than standard gas or oil boilers.

No

Consider what changes you can make to improve your homes efficiency. Although lots of homes now have double glazing, you may not have loft, wall, floor or external cladding insulation. Of course improving your homes efficiency will make your home more energy efficient but its not without a high price tag and a big disruption to family life.

Do you have outdoor space?

The majority of heat pumps installed will be air source heat pumps rather than ground source. Air source heat pumps work by drawing in air from outside which passes through a fan. You will need a spot on the outside of your property to house the unit.

Do you have much indoor space?

If you want your heat pump to heat your hot water you will also need a hot water storage tank. This isn’t such an issue if you currently have a system or regular boiler with storage tank but if you have a combi boiler where a great selling point is not needing any tanks this could be an issue. Furthermore even if you have a current hot water storage tank its unlikely to be compatible with your heat pump and will need factoring in cost wise. This can be an issue for smaller homes who do not have the space for a hot water store.

What type of heating do you currently have?

Central heating system

A typical central heating system works best on a high temperature of water for the radiators to emit the desired level of heat. Therefore increasing the size and shape of your radiators will most likely be needed to achieve the same the same level of comfort in your home. High temperature heat pumps are available but these are costly to install and of course attain higher running costs.

Underfloor heating

Underfloor heating works much better with a heat pump due to the large surface area coverage and its ability to work well with lower temperatures. With underfloor heating you can opt for a lower temperature heat pump which will be cheaper to run.

To summarise…

In summary whilst it may appear heat pumps are the perfect solution to all our carbon footprint woes we want to ensure the average homeowner is aware of the factors which can make a huge difference in the low carbon heating method you select.

As well as heat pumps becoming part of the UK’s future heating landscape we see hydrogen playing a huge role – Worcester Bosch boilers are pioneers of this and already have hydrogen ready boilers available. For those not on the national gas grid biofuel is likely to also be an option – click here for more information.

What next?

For more information please call our friendly team on 01258 472132 or fill in the enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

 


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