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Last updated: 19 October 2021

Heat Pumps: 7 Advantages and Disadvantages

How Do Heat Pumps Work and Why Use Them?

Heat pumps work by pumping or moving heat from one place to another by using a compressor and a circulating structure of liquid or gas refrigerant, through which heat is extracted from outside sources and pumped indoors.

Heat pumps come with multiple advantages for your home. Pumping the heat uses less electricity as compared to when electricity is solely used as a means to convert it. During the summers, the cycle can be reversed and the unit acts like an air conditioner.

Heat pumps are rising in popularity in the UK, and the government recently started to implement a number of new schemes, incentivising the transition to green living and alternative energy usage smoother and more affordable.

The International Energy Agency, in their latest special report, stresses that no new gas boilers should be sold after 2025 if Net Zero targets need to be achieved by 2050. Heat pumps are expected to be a better, low-carbon alternative to heating homes in the foreseeable future.

By combining heat pumps with solar panels,  you can make your home self sufficient and eco-friendly. Properly designed and installed heat pumps can be worth it, by regularly attaining more than 300 per cent efficiency.

Are you interested in getting quotes for heat pumps? Let us know about your needs and preferences and we will get back to you as soon as possible with free, no-obligation quotes from our qualified suppliers.

Heat Pumps

How Much Do Heat Pumps Cost?

Heat pumps prices are usually high, taking into account the installation of the heat pump, however the costs will vary for different heat pumps. The typical price range for a complete installation is between £8,000 and £45,000, to which the running costs have to be considered.

Air to water heat pump costs usually start from £7,000 and go up to £18,000, while ground source heat pump costs can reach up to £45,000. The running costs of heat pumps depend on your household, its insulation properties and size.

These running costs are prone to be lower than the ones of the previous systems, the mere difference being what system are you switching from. For instance, if you switch from gas, this will give you the lowest saving figures, while a typical home shifting from electricity could annually save more than £500.

The most important aspect when installing a heat pump system is that it's done flawlessly. With definite differences in terms of the produced heat level, and the specific running time of the heat pump, the installer person in charge will have to explain the ideal settings.

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What Are the Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps?

Prior to your purchasing decision of a heat pump system, it is important to inform yourself about heat pumps upsides and downsides. There is a multitude of heat pump advantages, which make them a great investment for the homeowner, and simultaneously, concerns that have to be regarded.

We will take a look at these advantages and disadvantages in detail below, to help you make an informed decision and make a wise investment towards this low carbon heating technology.

7 Advantages of Heat Pumps are:

  • Lower running costs
  • Less maintenance
  • Better Safety
  • Reduces Carbon Emissions
  • Provides Cooling
  • Long life-span
  • Eligible for RHI scheme
Pros
Read about the 7 pros of heat pumps in detail below.

7 Disadvantages of Heat Pumps are:

  • High upfront cost
  • Difficult to install
  • Questionable Sustainability
  • Requires significant work
  • Issues in cold weather
  • Not entirely carbon neutral
  • Planning permissions required
Cons
Read about the 7 cons of heat pumps in detail below.

7 Heat Pump Advantages

Heat pumps can be a fantastic choice for your home in many ways. Listed below are some of the advantages you can get by installing a heat pump.

1. Lower Running Costs

Heat pumps are cheaper to run than systems based on combustion. The more energy efficient the systems are, the greater long term savings on energy. Despite the fact that the prices of ground source heat pumps can go up to even £45,000, this friendly environmentally investment can help you save up to £1,400 per year. 

2. Less Maintenance

Heat pumps require less maintenance than combustion heating systems. Regularly, once a year, some certain details of the system have to be checked, which could be easily accomplished by yourself. A professional installer, on the other hand, has to check every three or five years.

3. Better Safety

Heat pumps are safer than combustion-based heating systems. They are safe to operate and since they rely on electricity and do not need to burn fuel to generate heat, they come with fewer safety concerns compared to their counterparts.

4. Reduces Carbon Emissions

Heat pump system reduces your carbon emissions and it has an efficient conversion rate of energy to heat. For example, water source heat pumps reach reasonably high efficiencies, close to 600 per cent.

5. Provides Cooling

During the warm periods, heat pumps are able to reverse the process, and thus act like an ac unit. Air to air heat pumps can conveniently be switched to cooling mode during the summers.

6. Long Life-Span

The life-span of heat pumps is relatively long, up to 50 years, however the average life-span is somewhere between 14 to 15 years. Despite these numbers, they are exceptionally reliable and steady source of heat.

7. Eligible for RHI Scheme

The government provides two different types of programs to assist the installation of renewable heat systems. You may be eligible for payment under Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which addresses to homeowners, social and private landlords, and also to self-builders. On the other side, the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive is open to public sector such as businesses, organisations and industries.

GreenMatch illustrated the essential heat pumps benefits and drawbacks in the following figure:

Heat Pumps Advantages and Disadvantages Figure

7 Heat Pump Disadvantages

Heat pumps are one of the most efficient home heating solutions available. However, the initial cash outlay can come to be a disadvantage is making this choice. Listed below are some drawbacks to weigh in while choosing a heat pump.

1. High Upfront Cost

Heat pumps have a large upfront cost, but on the other hand, their operating costs translate to long-term savings on energy bills and lead to a path of reduced carbon emissions.

2. Difficult to Install

Heat pumps are fairly difficult to install considering that research must be made in order to understand the movement of heat, local geology, specifically for ground source heat pumps and the heating and cooling requirements for your household.

3. Questionable Sustainability

Some of the used fluids for heat transfer are of questionable sustainability and thus raise environmental concerns, therefore it is recommended to use biodegradable fluids.

4. Requires Significant Work

The installation process for a heat pump requires significant work and disruption to your house and garden. A pertinent example would be that penetrations have to be made through the building cladding.

5. Issues in Cold Weather

Few heat pumps experience issues in cold areas, which can ultimately damage the system, thus full heat pumps efficiency in the cold weather cannot be reached. Although, there are possibilities of an upgraded heat pump system that surmounts this problem. Always check the Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) of your heat pump.

6. Not Entirely Carbon Neutral

Heat pumps rely on electricity to operate, implying that it is difficult for them to be entirely carbon neutral. However, heat pumps in general have a high Coefficient of Performance (COP), which means they're more efficient as the outside air gets cooler.

7. Planning Permissions Required

Special planning permissions are required in Wales and Northern Ireland, whilst in England and Scotland, it depends on your location and size of your property.

Are Heat Pumps Worth the Investment?

Heat pumps advantages clearly indicate that they represent a smart investment in the long run. Given that the running costs bring many savings on your energy bills, as the mechanism behind simply moves the heat from one space to another, and not producing it, and the government assists you in your transition towards a green energy solution, heat pumps are absolutely worth it. With the new heat and buildings strategy coming up, it is expected to further increase the installations of various heat pumps as a low carbon heating solution.

You might regard the large upfront costs, but simultaneously you also need to see the bigger picture. Solar applications plus heat pumps equals to a path to zero net energy.

There are different types of heat pumps, each with its unique mechanism. Heat pump brands come along with diverse functions and their sole focus is to make your life easier.

Air Source VS Ground Source Heat Pumps - Which One Is Right for You? │GreenMatch

Whether you are interested in ground source or air source heat pumps or you are not sure which is the best option for you, we are here to help! Let us know about your needs and preferences by filling in the contact form on the top of this page. We will get back to you to ask some further questions and connect you with our qualified suppliers. You will get up to 4 quotes, for free and non-binding!

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Attila Tamas Vekony
Written by Attila Tamas Vekony, UX Manager

Attila is the UX Manager at GreenMatch. He holds a degree in international business with four years of coordination experience in marketing, user experience, and content creation. Attila likes to write about solar energy, heating technology, environmental protection, and sustainability. His and his team's articles appeared in well-known sites such as The Conversation, Earth911, EcoWatch, and Gizmodo.