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The Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps

Heat pumps have become more of an interest to homeowners now they are eligible for the domestic renewable heat incentive. Owners that choose this efficient alternative to heating their home can be paid for playing their part in the fight against global warming. Homes with decent insulation that choose to install heat pumps can reduce the cost of heating their home quite significantly (between £300 and £600 a year) as well as reduce carbon emissions. Unsure of what heat pumps are all about? This blog looks into the pros and cons of heat pumps to help you decide if they are the choice for you.

Before we look at the pros and cons of heat pumps it is important to clarify what heat pumps are available to you and your home.

What is a heat pump?

There are actually two types of heat pump that you could use in your home: air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. Here is the difference between the two.

Air source heat pumps (ASHP):

ASHPs take heat from the outside air to heat the water, radiators, floor heating systems and warm air convectors in your home. It acts very similarly to a fridge and can get heat from the air even when the air is as cold as -15°C. ASHPs do use electricity so they do have a slight impact on the environment but this heat that they extract is constantly being renewed in a natural way.

Ground source heat pumps (GSHP):

GSHPs use pipes that are buried in the garden to transfer the heat from the ground to help heat radiators, hot water, warm air heating or under floor heating in your home. A GSHP circulates water and antifreeze around a ground loop in your garden and the heat from the ground absorbs into the heat pump via a heat exchanger.

The Pros of heat pumps:

Lowers your bills:

Heat pumps have the potential to save you a lot of money on your bills especially if you are replacing a more conventional electric heating system. Based on heat pumps being installed in a detached, 4 bedroom, well insulated home, you could save up to £600 or more on your electricity bills.

Renewable Heat Incentive:

The Renewable Heat Incentive is a government scheme that intends to help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint on the earth. The government is effectively paying households to install efficient appliances in homes to get rid of all the existing energy eating heating systems. If you install a heat pump you will be paid 7.3p per kWh of renewable heat created for ASHP and even more for GSHP at 18.8p per kWh. If you have to install your new heating system then you should see some returns from the government for your investment.

Lowers your Carbon Emissions:

It goes without saying that you will be doing your part to save the environment by installing a heat pump in your home. This does depend on which fuel you are replacing but in most cases heat pumps are more efficient anyway.

Removes need for Fuel Deliveries:

You will no longer need to arrange to be in the house to meet a delivery of oil to your home. No more waiting at home for the fuel to arrive when you should be at work or at another engagement.

Little Maintenance:

Heat pumps rarely need any maintenance and have earned the reputation as a ‘Fit and forget’ technology. You won’t constantly need to call professionals in to fix glitches in the system – when it is up and running you won’t be bothered with it at all.


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Heat pumps can actually act as natural dehumidifiers to your home, so if you have problems with damp this may be the perfect solution.

No need for concern:

Heat pumps don’t use any poisonous fuels so you don’t need to worry about any carbon monoxide poisoning risks in your home. You home will be warm and risk free.

Even spread of heat through home: Heat pumps can also give a very even spread of heat throughout your home so no one room is hotter than another. This is very helpful during the winter when the last thing you want is to get out of the shower in the morning to a freezing bathroom.

The Cons of heat pumps:

Not as warm:

You may find that a gas or oil boiler heating system produces more of an intense heat in your home, whereas heat pumps are milder. Some people are completely satisfied with this milder type of heat but some prefer a stronger heat. This is a very individual choice depending on how warm you like to be. Many people choose to keep the heat pump on all the time during in winter to maintain a steady heat in the home.

Not as effective in really cold climates:

It makes sense to say that it is harder for the ASHP system to be effective in really cold environments, as the pump has to use more energy to absorb the heat from the air. This makes GSHP pumps more efficient.

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