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Last updated: 13 February 2024

Complete Guide to Heat Pumps in the UK (2024)

heat pumps in the uk
  • Heat pumps provide both cooling and heating options for your home all year round.
  • Installing an air source or a ground source heat pump can reduce your heating bills by £2,300 a year.
  • Save £7,500 now on your heat pump installation with the government Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

Are heat pumps worth it? If you’re looking for an energy-efficient and eco-friendly way to heat and cool your home, then the answer is yes. On average, air source and ground source heat pumps will break even between 7-14 years and can save you up to £2,300 per year

In this article, we’ll delve into the best heat pumps for homes and have the operational mechanism of a heat pump explained. We’ll also discuss how much heat pumps cost so you can finally decide for yourself: Are heat pumps any good?

You can read more about heat pumps below or check out our explainer video:

Heat Pumps - Your One Stop Guide for 2024 (Costs, Efficiency and More!)

If you’d like to choose a suitable heat pump for your home, finding a trusted installer can be time-consuming and frustrating. GreenMatch streamlines this process by providing up to 4 free quotes from local heat pump installers after a quick 30-second questionnaire. Click the button below to get started.

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What is a heat pump and why use them?

A heat pump is a two-in-one system that transfers heat from one place to another using a compressor and a circulating structure of liquid or gas refrigerant. Not only is it a great heating and cooling tool but it is also a good way to save money on your energy bills. 

How does a heat pump work?

A heat pump utilises a process of moving heat from the outside to the inside. The heat pump diagram below gives a clearer picture of how a heat pump operates. Here’s how it happens in 6 steps:

  1. Absorbing heat from outside: A heat pump collects warmth from the outside, which it uses to turn refrigerant, in its pipes, into vapour.
  2. Bringing heat inside: The gathered vapour is compressed to heat it further, and transported into your home, releasing heat.
  3. Releasing heat indoors: The super-hot gas passes its heat to your central heating system, warming up the area. During this step, the vapour transforms back into a liquid.
  4. Cooling down liquid: This liquid passes through a special valve, rapidly cooling it down to prepare for absorbing the outside heat. 
  5. Optional cooling: Alternatively, the heat pump can reverse the process. It takes warmth from the inside and releases it outside, similar to opening a window to let out warm air.
  6. Continuous cycle: The heat pump maintains a repeating cycle, either bringing warmth in to heat your home or moving warmth out to cool it down.
heat pump diagram

Types of heat pumps

There are three heat pump types: ground-, air-, and water-source heat pumps. When the heat source is the soil, we talk about ground source heat pumps. Similarly, the ones using the ambient air or a body of water are called air source and water source heat pumps, respectively.

Read more about the specific heat pump types below:

Hybrid heat pumps are another popular heat pump option for homeowners with high heating demands. A hybrid heat pump, also called a dual fuel system, works by switching between the two energy sources (a heat pump + boiler combo) based on the season, temperature, and function needed for maximum efficiency and effective heating and cooling. 

An average hybrid heating system costs anywhere between £7,000–£15,000 and around £6,000 to have it installed.

How much do heat pumps cost?

Air source heat pumps costs usually start from £14,750 and go up to £21,550. Meanwhile ground-source heat pump costs are typically between £16,200 to £31,000 but can reach up to £50,000 for a vertical groundwork installation. The running costs ofheat pumps in the UK depend on your household, its insulation properties, and size.

Typical costs of heat pumps
Heat pump typeInstallation costsAvg. yearly running costs
Air source£14,750 – £21,550£585 – £1,550
Ground source£16,200 – £50,000£455 – £1,185
Water source£6,000 – £11,000£1,300–£1,700

These are just approximate prices. Wondering about heat pump costs for your specific needs? Avoid the lengthy search for an installer by using GreenMatch. 

Complete our 30-second form, connect with up to 4 nearby installers, and compare quotes to ensure you get the best deal – all for free and with no obligations. Start now by clicking below.

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Heat pump efficiency

How efficient are heat pumps? Heat pumps stand out with their potential for up to 400% efficiency through heat energy recycling from air, water, or the ground. Due to this, heat pumps exhibit significantly higher efficiency compared to traditional heating methods like gas boilers or electric heaters. On average, boilers can offer up to 92-100% efficiency, and electric heaters are theoretically 100% efficient.

Efficiency of different heating systems
Heating systemEfficiency
Heat pump300-400%
Boiler99-100%
Electric heater100%

Are heat pumps worth the investment?

are heat pumps worth it

Heat pumps represent a smart investment in the long run. Given that you can save on your energy bills and the government can provide you with financial support, heat pumps are absolutely worth it.

With the new heat and buildings strategy coming up, it is expected to further increase the installation of various heat pumps as a low-carbon heating solution.

The table below shows the potential savings you could make by replacing a gas boiler with an air source or ground source heat pump, according to the size of your home and your energy needs.

Potential savings with a heat pump for different house sizes
Size of a houseHeat pump size (kW)Energy needed (kWh) per yearYearly savingsBreak-even point (years)
2 bedrooms87,312.5£80 – £3857-14
3 bedrooms1211,212.5£65 – £5307-14
4 bedrooms1616,575£45 – £7357-14

And, depending on your current situation, the repayment time can be drastically shorter than the lifespan, making it a worthy investment. Even though the consensus is that heat pumps are a good investment, this doesn’t mean that you should overpay on the upfront costs. 

Ensure you get the best deal on your heat pump installation and save time finding reliable installers by comparing quotes. Fill out our 30-second form and Up to 4 local qualified installers from our network will offer free installation quotes with no obligation to commit until you’re ready. Click below to begin.

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What are the pros and cons of heat pumps?

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of heat pumps in detail, to help you make an informed decision and make a wise investment towards this low-carbon heating technology.

heat pump advantages and disadvantages

Advantages of heat pumps

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.

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.

  • Cost-effective operation: Heat pumps are more budget-friendly than combustion-based systems, offering potential annual savings of up to £2,300, despite some upfront costs.
  • Low maintenance: Heat pumps require minimal maintenance, typically checked annually by the homeowner, and professional inspections are only necessary every 3 to 5 years.
  • Enhanced safety: Heat pumps are considered safer than combustion systems as they don’t rely on burning fuel for heat production.
  • Reduced carbon footprint: Heat pumps efficiently convert energy into heat, significantly lowering carbon emissions, with some models achieving nearly 600% efficiency.
  • Cooling capability: Heat pumps can switch to cooling mode during hot weather, functioning as air conditioning units, especially air-to-air heat pumps.
  • Longevity: Heat pumps have a lifespan of approximately 15-20 years, offering reliable, long-term heating solutions.
  • Boiler Upgrade Scheme: The UK’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme provides financial incentives of up to £7,500 for air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps, promoting the adoption of low-carbon heating systems. This makes an air source heat pump installation cost equivalent to getting a new boiler.

Heat pumps are one of the most efficient home heating solutions available. However, there are some drawbacks to weigh in when choosing a heat pump.

Disadvantages of heat pumps

Heat pumps are one of the most efficient home heating solutions available. However, there are some drawbacks to weigh in when choosing a heat pump.

  • Costly upfront investment: Heat pumps do bring long-term energy bill savings and reduced carbon emissions but the initial investment varies between £14,750 – £50,000 which can be a significant disadvantage.
  • Complex installation process: Prepare for detailed planning, involving heat movement considerations, local geology, and your heating/cooling needs.
  • Environmental concerns: Heat pumps aren’t entirely carbon-neutral due to electricity usage and some of the used fluids for heat transfer raise environmental concerns. Therefore, it is recommended to use biodegradable fluids or renewable energy sources like solar for true carbon neutrality.
  • Significant house and garden disruption: During the installation, the building cladding might need to be penetrated causing potential inconveniences.
  • Weather-driven reduced efficiency: Cold weather challenges like icing for air source heat pumps may reduce efficiency and increase electricity consumption, while ground source heat pumps perform better in low temperatures.
  • Mandatory planning permissions: Special planning permissions are necessary in Wales and Northern Ireland, with England and Scotland requirements contingent on property size and location.

Is a heat pump the right choice for your UK home?

When considering a heat pump for your UK home, it’s essential to factor in several key considerations. These include selecting the right size based on your space and climate, prioritising high-efficiency ratings, and choosing a reputable brand with warranties. 

If you still can’t make up your mind about whether a heat pump is something your home could benefit from, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Understand how a heat pump works – find out what heat pump types there are and how to choose the right one for your home.
  2. Find out whether your home is suitable for a heat pump – consider its age, whether it’s insulated or not, whether it has single, double or triple glazed windows, and how many bedrooms there are.
  3. Consider the pros and cons of heat pumps – whether the upfront heat pump investment fits your budget or whether your home can accommodate an air source or a ground source heat pump.

Find the best suppliers of heat pumps in the UK

Heat pumps, whether ground source, air source, or water source, represent excellent opportunities for upgrading your home, as they not only provide you with a solid return on investment but also improve the quality and value of your home.

Avoid days of stress and hassle, searching for installation quotes, by using our easy service. Fill out our quick form, and within 48 hours, we’ll connect you with up to 4 local installers tailored to your home’s needs, saving you time and money. Comparing local quotes helps you secure the best deal and avoid overpaying for supply and installation.

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