You can hardily switch the TV on or turn the page of a newspaper these days without reading or hearing how heat pumps are the latest in green technology.
There’s no denying that they are an extremely efficient and cost-effective way to heat your home, but is your property suitable for a heat pump?
As with any installation, there are a few basic requirements that need to be met before a heat pump can be installed:
Heat Pump In Poorly Insulated House
Is your home well insulated?
The first thing you need to consider is whether your home is well insulated. If not, then a heat pump is likely to be less effective and may not be suitable for your property.
In order for a heat pump to work most efficiently, your home needs to have good levels of insulation. This includes the walls, ceilings, floors, and windows.
If your home isn’t well insulated, then you may need to invest in some energy-efficient measures such as cavity wall insulation or loft insulation before you install a heat pump.
To be honest, I don’t expect you to know the level of insulation in your home off the top of your head. However, when you have an experienced heat pump installer assess your property, they will be able to tell you if your home is sufficiently insulated or not.
How Much Outdoor Space Do You Have?
Another important consideration is whether you have enough space outside to install the outdoor unit of the heat pump.
The outdoor unit needs to be installed in a well-ventilated area with plenty of clearance around it. It should also be level and on a firm surface.
If you don’t have enough space outside, or if the area isn’t well ventilated, then a heat pump may not be suitable for your property.
Air source heat pumps
Air source heat pumps have a fan that draws air from outside and a heat exchanger that transfers the heat from the air to the water in the heating system.
The outdoor unit of an air source heat pump needs to be installed in a well-ventilated area with plenty of clearance around it. It should also be level and on a firm surface.
If you don’t have enough space outside, or if the area isn’t well ventilated, then an air source heat pump may not be suitable for your property.
There are different types of heat pumps, and each type has its own specific installation requirements.
Some air source heat pumps are in one large piece (monobloc pumps), while others are divided into two parts: an outdoor and an indoor unit (split pumps).
With some split pumps, you have greater leeway in terms of how far away the fan unit can be located from your property.
The most essential thing to keep in mind with an air source heat pump is that the outdoor unit will take up room on the exterior of your home.
Make sure you fully appraise how much space you have and whether it’s adequate for the air source heat pump you’re looking for.
Ground source heat pumps
In order to fit a ground source heat pump, you need considerably more outdoor space than you would for an air source heat pump.
This is because a ground source heat pump needs a loop of pipe to be buried in your garden. The size of the loop will depend on the size and heating requirements of your property.
The best ground for this sort of heat pump will be one that is suited for digging, accessible to equipment, and clear of trees and roots.
These can all create difficulties with trenching the necessary length and depth of pipe installation.
Ground surveys may be conducted in some cases, but this will raise the price tag significantly.
Do You Own That Land/outdoor Space?
A strange question, I know, but it’s one you need to ask yourself nonetheless.
If you’re considering a ground source heat pump then you’ll need to bury a loop of pipe in your garden. The size of the loop will depend on the size and heating requirements of your property.
In order for the installation to go ahead, you will need exclusive rights to the land where the heat pump will be installed.
Staying within your boundary lines isn’t enough – you need to make sure that there are no easements or right of way that would give somebody else access to dig up the ground where the heat pump is buried.
The same goes if you live in a conservation area or listed building – you will need to get planning permission before proceeding.
How Much Spare Indoor Space Do You Have?
Plenty of room/some spare areas
If I’m honest, this is by far the best scenario when looking to install a heat pump.
You’ll have space for the outdoor unit (if you’re having an air source heat pump fitted) and you won’t have to make too many adjustments to your property in order for the installation to go ahead.
The only thing you need to be aware of is that, with some models of heat pumps, the noise levels can be quite high.
If this is something that would bother you, then make sure you do your research and find a model that has low noise levels.
Slightly less room/a few spare areas
If space is an issue, you’ll need to look closely at the dimensions of the different heat pumps on the market.
As a general rule, air-source heat pumps are smaller than ground-source heat pumps. This means that they’re more suited to properties with less outdoor space.
If you want an air source heat pump, you may choose one that combines the fan and controls in a built-in unit that is placed outside.
It’s a fantastic method to save room while still maintaining natural light because they’re considerably larger machines. Monobloc heat pumps are made up of combined units like this.
How Big Is Your House?
Even if you have a small house, it doesn’t rue out the possibility of having a heat pump installed.
The size of your property will have an impact on the type of heat pump you can have fitted, as well as how much it will cost to install and run.
The table below shows the various sizes of houses that are compatible with each heat pump:
*Depending on the amount of outside area available. The larger the home, the more space it will require to be heated and the greater, more powerful the pump will need to be.
*If you have a ground floor flat that you own, it may still be worth considering an air source heat pump if you have the space outside. You would need to check with your local authority and also the lease owner.
What Type Of Heating Do You Have?
If you're thinking of fitting a heat pump to an older property there are a few things you need to consider. Heat pumps come in two temperature ranges - low temperature and high temperature.
As a general rule, older properties are better suited to a high-temperature heat pump. This is because they often have larger radiator systems that require a higher heat output in order to work properly.
If you're not sure what type of heating you have, or whether it would be compatible with a heat pump, then the best thing to do is speak to a qualified installer. They will be able to assess your property and advise you on the best course of action.
Central heating systems normally require a high temperature for standard radiators to work effectively. So, if you have existing radiators then this type of heat pump is the best option.
Whether you have a new or old property, underfloor heating is a great way to heat your home.
If you're considering having this type of heating installed, then a low-temperature heat pump would be the best option.
It's important to note that, if you're having underfloor heating fitted as part of a new build project, you'll need to factor in the cost of insulation too.
This is because underfloor heating works best when there is good thermal conductivity between the floor and the room above.
Do You Have Double Glazing?
If your property has double glazing installed, then you're in luck. This means that your property is already well insulated and will lose less heat, making it more efficient to heat.
As a result, you'll be able to choose from a wider range of heat pumps, as well as enjoy lower running costs.
If your property doesn't have double glazing, then you may want to consider having it installed before having a heat pump fitted.
This is because heat pumps work by taking heat from the outside air and using it to heat your home.
If your property is poorly insulated, then this heat will escape and you'll end up spending more money on heating bills.
Having double glazing installed will help to improve the efficiency of your property and make it more cost-effective to run a heat pump.
Do you have cavity walls?
If your property has cavity walls, then you're in luck. This means that your property is already well insulated and will lose less heat, making it more efficient to heat.
As a result, you'll be able to choose from a wider range of heat pumps, as well as enjoy lower running costs.
If your property doesn't have cavity walls, then you may want to consider having them installed before having a heat pump fitted.
Having cavity walls installed will help to improve the efficiency of your property and make it more cost-effective to run a heat pump
Air Source Heat Pump Space Requirements
For an air source heat pump to be installed under Permitted Development, it also needs to be located within at least one meter from the boundary of the house.
This means that, if you have a detached house, the heat pump can be located anywhere within the boundaries of your property.
However, if you live in a terraced or semi-detached property, the heat pump must be located either:
- within the confines of an existing outbuilding, such as a garage or,
- to the side or rear of the main property and at least 1 meter away from any Boundary with a Public Right of Way.
Related: A Guide To Heat Pump Prices
Can air source heat pumps work with radiators?
Yes, air-source heat pumps can work with radiators as long as they are the right type. Central heating systems normally require a high temperature for standard radiators to work effectively, so if you have existing radiators then this type of heat pump is the best option.
Can I install an air source heat pump myself?
No, air-source heat pumps must be installed by a qualified professional. This is because they contain refrigerant gases that are harmful to the environment if not installed correctly.
Can you install a heat pump in a flat/apartment?
Yes, however, it would need to be a ground-floor flat/apartment with an outdoor area where the heat pump could be located.
What are the benefits of an air source heat pump?
Air source heat pumps offer a number of benefits, including lower running costs and emissions, as well as being eligible for the Green Homes Grant.
What are the disadvantages of an air source heat pump?
The main disadvantage of an air source heat pump is that they can be noisy, however, this can be mitigated by having them installed in a suitable location. Additionally, they require regular maintenance in order to keep them running efficiently.
How much does a heat pump cost to run?
On a typical standard electricity plan, running a heat pump is about the same cost as operating a gas boiler. Heat pumps are extremely efficient (about 4 times as powerful) when compared to gas boilers, however, the way carbon taxes are presently levied on both energy and gas makes it four times more costly. As a result, running a heat pump is actually less expensive than operating a gas boiler.
Are heat pumps efficient?
Yes, heat pumps are extremely efficient. Because the amount of heat they produce is greater than the quantity of power consumed, heat pumps are more efficient than other heating systems. The Coefficient of Performance (CoP) is a figure that describes how efficient a heater is in terms of producing heat for each unit of electricity used.
How much electricity does an air source heat pump use?
An air-source heat pump can produce 3 kWh of heat for each 1 kWh of electricity consumed. The yearly need for the majority of homes in the United Kingdom is approximately 12,000 kWh. It will set you back around £520 per year to keep your home heated at 4,000 kWh costing £0.13 per unit.