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New gas boiler or heat pump?

New gas boiler or heat pump?

Are you looking at replacing your gas boiler and have been looking into a more energy efficient heating systems. Do you want to understand more about low carbon heating systems and save yourself money on fuel bills?  If so, you may be considering whether to replace your gas boiler or have an air source heat pump installed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of gas boilers and heat pumps

The likelihood is your current home has a natural gas boilers which heats your home and provides you with hot water. You may have heard about how a heat pump can help you become more energy efficient but are they suitable for you and your home?

Of course all types of heating systems have advantages and disadvantages, below we have set out general advice relating to the suitability of both gas boilers and heat pumps

Benefits of Gas Boilers

  • Cheaper to install – gas boilers are much cheaper to install than a heat pump. Making them a great affordable heating system
  • Quiet in operation.
  • Easy to install, with an abundance of certified gas engineers to install and maintain.
  • If you are swapping out your existing gas boiler for a newer energy efficient model then this is the most cost effective option
  • Long guarantees offered to customer of up to 12 years
  • Modern boilers are hydrogen blend ready meaning they can run off 20% hydrogen and 80% natural gas.
  • No need for costly and disruptive insulation improvements
  • Compact in size, most boilers can fit inside a standard kitchen or utility cupboard
  • Quick access to heating and hot water

Benefits of heat pumps

  • Very efficient, heat pumps are extremely efficient. For example each kW of electricity used will generate 3 to 4 times as much heat.
  • Government Grant available of £5,000 for installing a heat pump
  • No VAT on heat pumps
  • Runs off electricity – although currently only around 40% of our electricity in powered by green methods ie solar, wind or hydro.
  • No carbon dioxide or monoxide produced when burnt the only by product is water

Disadvantages of gas boilers

  • Currently requires fossil fuels to heat our homes. Although hydrogen which is a renewable carbon free fuel is fast becoming a viable option.
  • Gas boilers are not as efficient as heat pumps. Modern gas boilers can reach efficiencies of up to 94% though.
  • Are not carbon neutral

Disadvantages of heat pumps

  • Very high installation cost even with the government of £5,000 the average cost of a air source heat pump is between £8,000 to £15,000 and £18,000 and £25,000 for a ground source heat pump.
  • Likely to require insulation improvements to provide the required level of comfort which can amount up to an additional  £25,000
  • Heat pump are complicated to install and a thorough thermal efficiency performance of your home must be carried out prior.
  • Heat pumps don’t react fast to heating and hot water demands like a gas boiler as they run off a much lower output temperature
  • Radiators may need to be 30% bigger than existing to allow the heat pump to heat a room effectively.
  • Homes may not be as warm in the cooler months that you have been accustomed too, which has lead to home owners supplementing their heat pump with a fossil fuel heating solution such as a log burner.
  • Running costs of heat pumps can be high meaning heat pump is not necessarily cheaper heating system to run especially in a home with poor thermal efficiency.

If you are considering having a heat pump installed it is crucial you have an energy audit carried out in your home would involve assessing your property’s insulation, heat loss, current tariffs, and property size

How do I know if my home is suitable for a heat pump?

While nearly all buildings can have a heat pump installed only a small percentage in their current state would provide the level of comfort you require. This is why your surveyor must be an experienced energy assessor. An energy assessor will be able to provide advice on what heat pump is suitable for you and what energy efficiency improvements you need for your home prior to installing a heat pump.

In summary, heat pumps are likely to form part of our domestic home heating systems, along with hydrogen boilers and HVO boilers. There are currently two main issues with heat pumps. Firstly they are a lot more expensive to install than a gas boiler and whilst they are currently better for the environment, running costs can end up being more than a gas boiler. With hydrogen boilers coming to play, this is likely to be much more affordable and less disruptive option for the majority of home owners.

Secondly, they require a highly insulated home to provide the level of comfort we require. Due to the diverse nature of the UK’s housing stock the majority of homes will require costly and disruptive insulation improvements before having a heat pump installed.

What next?

So, heat pump vs boiler? Well, realistically it depends on your budget first and foremost and also your personal preference and space available.

New hydrogen blend ready boiler quote

Did you know that nearly all existing as appliances and ALL of Worcester Bosch and Glow-worm boilers are hydrogen blend ready. You can rest assured that any gas boiler you buy now will run on gas in its life time.


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