Building Regulations and House Insulation
Are There Any Practical Considerations?
Special building regulations apply if you decide to install a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP). In general, your property (house and garden) must comply with the building and planning requirements of the local authorities. The Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) is considered a Permitted Development since December 1st 2011, but your property still needs to comply with the limitations and in some cases with MCS Planning Standards or equivalent standards.
While conventional heating systems are considered Permitted Development and therefore do not require planning permission, there are some limitations with regards to LPG and oil fuel tanks like, for example, proximity to buildings, allowed size and capacity of the tank, which you can check either with the local planning authorities or with your supplier.
Insulation of Building
No matter which heating solution you choose, home insulation is a critical factor for optimal energy efficiency. A good starting point, when considering insulation is the online Energy Check, designed to give you an initial idea of whether you need further improvements in energy efficiency.
As a new technology with strict installation requirements, heat pumps must be installed by an approved MCS installer that will guarantee the optimum performance of the pump.
It is a good idea to choose a certified installer even if you choose conventional heating systems. However, because they have existed long enough, installation errors are not as common as with heat pumps.
The installation of Ground Source Heat Pump requires a large area of land and therefore it is not suitable for households with small or no gardens at all. Ground source heating systems are also not going to be efficient in older homes that have single glazed windows, because too much heat would be lost due to air leaks. Insulating an older home just to install Ground Source Heat Pump would increase the costs substantially. Therefore you might look for other renewable heating sources.
Assessment of Heat Demand
With conventional heating systems, heat demand does not need to be assessed before installation, because the system can be adjusted, depending on your personal level of comfort.
However, in order to choose the optimal heat pump solution, you need to assess the heat demand level depending on the size of the space you would want to heat. According to your personal preferences, different heat pump types would perform better than others. You can get recommendations of the best options from suppliers.
Assessment of System Efficiency
If your objective is to minimize your utility bill, heating and cooling systems are the first to reconsider. By choosing an environmentally friendly heating and cooling solution, your bill can be reduced with up to fifty percent, depending on the solution you choose. You can check your energy-saving options by following the steps of this online guide and get feedback on the possible options to reduce your bills, including based on eligibility for grants.
The heat pump efficiency in terms of functionality depends on the source heat, the heat supplied to the heating circuit of the space and the heat of hot water used. If your heating mix includes Air Source Heat Pump, energy savings are expected to vary on a day-to-day basis, with outside temperature fluctuations.
In a survey made by the Heating Strategy Group of the UK Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes, heat pumps are rated as efficient as gas boilers in terms of cost and carbon, because of their electricity use, with the exception of properties on a renewable tariff.
If the heat pump is properly installed, the only risk with Air Source Heat Pumps is bad weather conditions that will make you turn the underfloor heating or radiators on, and as a result, that will affect your utility bill. There is no risk for heating variations with Ground Source Heat Pumps.
When it comes to conventional heat systems, LPG is the one prone to risk, since it is delivered by road and you might remain without fuel if you do not have a good control system in place.