What do you need to know about installing a heat pump?

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Ground and Air Source Heat pumps are a renewable heating source which should be considered when replacing your heating system as you may be eligible for a government incentive towards it and save money on running costs, whilst also reducing carbon. Heat pumps use electricity to run, so there will still be energy consumption, some people choose to also install solar PV panels to reduce electricity costs.

Heat pumps work best in well insulated buildings, and can be a good choice for a new build, barn conversion or renovation project, particularly if you currently heat with oil, LPG, solid fuel or electricity, you will save money by switching to a heat pump.

Ground source heat pumps will require some outside space for the pipework which is generally buried in trenches, alternatively if there isn’t sufficient space, a borehole can be used.

Air source heat pumps take up much less space, and are positioned on the outside of the house.

Heat pumps heat water to a lower temperature than traditional boilers. As a result the ideal place for them is an extremely well insulated house and work well with underfloor heating. You can use a heat pump with radiators, but to get the same level of heat you will need larger radiators.

With a traditional boiler the hot water cylinder tends to be heated to 60C or higher. With a heat pump, the hotter you heat your water the more electricity you use, which leads to higher running costs. 40 – 50C is generally hot enough for washing up and bathing, but the temperature in the cylinder needs to be boosted to over 60C once a week to avoid the danger of legionella. Some heat pumps come with an integrated immersion heater.

Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF)

The performance of heat pumps is rated as a seasonal performance factor (SPF). It is the total useful heat generated from the heat pump in a year divided by the annual electricity consumption. For example an SPF of 3 indicates that the system will give an average three units of heat energy for each one unit of electricity used.

To be considered ‘renewable’ (under EU legislation) heat pumps must have a SPF of at least 2.5, and this is the minimum performance that is eligible for the domestic renewable heat incentive.

The domestic renewable heat incentive will pay on renewable heat only, so the more efficient the heat pump, the greater the payment you will receive.

This makes it worth investing a bit more in your system to make sure you have a good quality heat pump, with suitably sized radiators or underfloor heating, installed by a reputable MCS accredited installer like R A Brown.

If you would like to discuss your project in detail to see if a heat pump is suitable for your property, give R A Brown a call on 01603 898904 and we will be happy to help advise you.