As the search for alternatives to fossil fuel-based heating systems continue, heat pumps have emerged as one of the most probable solutions. But most people are still unaware of what heat pumps are, how they work and their pros and cons. Here we offer more information to help you decide whether to install a heat pump in your home.
What are heat pumps?
A heat pump is a system that captures heat from outdoors and then transfers it for use inside your home. There are two types of heat pump:
Air source heat pump
Heat is absorbed from the air and turned into a liquid refrigerant at a low temperature. To raise the temperature the liquid is compressed before being condensed back into a liquid and the stored heat is released. This then goes to radiators and other heating systems around the home.
Ground source heat pump
This transfers heat from the ground outside your home via a coiled pipe which is then absorbed into a fluid. This passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump where the temperature rises, and that heat is then transferred for use around the home.
Water source heat pumps
A water source heat pump involves the transfer of heat from a body of water into your home. Depending on the system, either water or a special refrigerant fluid is pumped through pipes that are positioned in the water source.
Should I install a heat pump?
While there is now more discussion and fuss surrounding heat pumps than ever before, the technology has been around since the late 1940s. As the need to source alternatives to fossil fuels becomes more urgent, the possibilities offered by heat pumps has become more apparent, although there are still some concerns and questions that need to be resolved.
Even though they are generally seen as an eco-friendlier option compared to traditional boilers, the high installation cost is still something that is preventing most people from making the switch. As new versions are designed and manufactured the price will eventually come down, so the whether you should install a heat pump will likely come down to your budget.
Some experts estimate it can cost anywhere between £1,500 and £18,000 [https://www.checkatrade.com/blog/cost-guides/new-boiler-cost/]to install a heat pump system, which is likely unrealistic for many, especially when installing a new boiler usually costs somewhere between £2,000 and £4,000 [https://www.checkatrade.com/blog/cost-guides/air-source-heat-pump-cost/]depending on the model.
Heat pump pros
Reduced carbon emissions
Heat pumps have an efficient conversion rate of energy to heat. For example, water source heat pumps have efficiency levels ranging anywhere between 300% and 600%.
Most systems are similar in design to air conditioner units, which means heat pumps can be used in reverse during warmer periods of the year to lower the temperature of your home.
Most heat pumps tend to last around 15 years, although can continue to work for longer if well maintained. To get the most out of your system you should use a professional installation company to ensure it has been fitted correctly.
Heat pump cons
This continues to be one of the biggest barriers many people struggle to overcome when it comes to buying a heat pump system. Compared to traditional boilers they are much more expensive, costing thousands of pounds for a complete installation.
If you have a boiler system installed this will have to be removed (along with connecting pipes) and a brand-new heat pump system installed.
Not carbon neutral
Because heat pumps rely on electricity to work this makes it difficult for them to be fully carbon neutral. The fluids used for heat transfer are also not very sustainable and could be harmful to the environment.