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Last updated: 15 September 2017

Heat Pumps: 7 Advantages and Disadvantages

Heat Pumps Explained - Discover the pros and cons!

Heat pumps represent systems that ‘pump’ or move 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.

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.

The heat pump system has been adopted at a slower pace in the UK, as opposed to other parts in Europe, due to the fact that the government recently started to implement a number of new schemes, which make the transition to green living smoother and more affordable. These practices have managed to catch the attention of the British population, and subsequently increasing the popularity of renewable energy technology.

Heat pumps represent the most efficient alternative to fuel, oil and electric systems in regards to both heating and cooling. Gas furnaces do a relative good job, rated close to 98 per cent efficient, however they do not represent a long term solution from a carbon footprint aspect. Heat pumps supply more heating and cooling capacity than the amount of electricity used to run them. Properly designed and installed heat pumps regularly attain 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 Would a Heat Pump Cost?

Heat pumps prices are usually high, taking into account the installation of the entire system, however the costs will vary for different heat pumps. The typical price range for a complete installation is between £9,000 and £17,000, to which the running costs have to be considered. Air to water heat pump costs usually start from £7,000 and goes up to £14,000. 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 is 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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7 Heat Pumps Advantages and Disadvantages

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

Advantages

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 £20,000, this friendly environmentally investment can help you save up to £1,400 per year. 

2. Less Maintenance

Heat pumps require less maintenance than the 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. Safety

Heat pumps are safer than combustion-based heating systems.

4. 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. Provide 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. 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

Disadvantages

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. Significant Work

The installation process 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. 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.

6. Carbon Neutral

Heat pumps heavily rely on electricity to operate, implying that they will never be entirely carbon neutral. However, since heat pumps are electric, they represent a perfect fit for solar applications. This is an effective carbon free model. Coupled together with solar panels, heat pumps could lead to a zero net energy.

7. Planning Permissions

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 It?

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. 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.

Heat Pumps Energy Savings

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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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