Is it time to invest in a heat pump? Here’s how they stack up against a gas boiler.
Home energy use accounts for 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, with gas boilers accounting for the majority of this. When you raise the thermostat, the burning natural gas produces heat through the radiators – as well as carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere.
Some of the heat escapes the structure and is squandered. Two-thirds of homes in the UK do not satisfy energy efficiency standards, and decarbonizing the country’s leaky housing stock is one of the most difficult issues the government has in achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Heat pumps are largely seen as a viable alternative, and the UK government has set a goal of installing 600,000 per year by 2028.
There are two sorts of heat pumps to be aware of when it comes to heating. An air source heat pump is one that extracts heat from the air. These are the most prevalent types, and they look like an air conditioner on the outside of your home. Heat is extracted from the ground using ground source heat pumps. Both types use a liquid refrigerant and a compressor in an electricity-powered operation to transfer heat from one location to another.
Because a heat pump is powered by energy, the quantity of CO2 it emits is determined by how that electricity is generated. Fortunately, the UK’s national grid is becoming more environmentally friendly: renewable energy provided 47 percent of the country’s electricity in the first quarter of 2020. However, extensive deployment of heat pumps will contribute to the national grid’s peak electrical demand, putting strain on local transmission cables and transformers. This is alarming enough on its own, but the government also intends to replace many of the UK’s fossil-fuel vehicles with battery-powered equivalents, adding to the national grid’s strain.
Is A Heat Pump Right For You?
The efficiency of heat pumps and the amount of electricity they consume are determined by the heating system’s design. Users aren’t always using them in the most efficient way, and the heating systems to which they’re connected aren’t always perfect, so this performance can be considerably better in laboratory conditions than in real houses. In Northern Ireland, for example, a study of renovated homes found that efficient gas boilers were actually more cost-effective than heat pumps.
When heat pumps are used in conjunction with systems such as underfloor heating or very large, particularly constructed enormous radiators that create enough heat to warm the space without having to run at high temperatures, heat pumps are far more efficient. When a heat pump is used to replace a gas boiler, the heat pump will not function as well as it could with the current radiators, so you may need to replace them. Heat pumps are typically a good alternative for houses without access to mains gas, and are undoubtedly preferable to an oil boiler, which emits a lot of CO2.
Heat pumps are likewise not as well suited to producing large heat increases as gas-fired boilers. Heat pumps are similar to marathon runners in that they prefer to run at a steady, moderate pace. Gas boilers are similar to sprinters in that they perform best under heavy loads. Unlike a gas boiler, it is preferable to leave a heat pump running all night rather than turning it off at night and on again in the morning.
It’s recommended to increase the heating temperature in a heat pump system in gradual increments. This eliminates the need for the heat pump to operate at high power, which would degrade its efficiency. If this is your first time living with a heat pump, you’ll most likely need to adjust your long-standing heating habits. According to research, new customers who initially learned about heat pumps got the most out of their new heating system.
Installers must be trained in order to install these systems. Because some homeowners complain about noise from fans near windows in living rooms, the position of an air source heat pump is critical. To avoid frost damage in cold climates, air source heat pumps should be installed in consistently sunny locations.
Heat pumps, when correctly installed and operated in an energy-efficient house, may provide excellent comfort while also lowering heating costs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, replacing an old gas boiler with an air source heat pump in a four-bedroom detached property would save £395-£425 per year on heating bills, although this may not always be the case when compared to brand new, highly efficient gas boilers. Heat pumps, on the other hand, can help save a significant amount of carbon in most circumstances.
Heat pumps, while an important component of a low-carbon approach, are not a one-size-fits-all answer. Each household must be assessed on its own merits. Making homes more energy efficient is just as important as upgrading gas boilers and investing in renewable energy in the UK’s decarbonisation programme.