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green heating systems

As the energy crisis tightens its grip on UK households, homeowners may be considering replacing their carbon guzzling gas or electric fuelled heating systems with a green alternative in order to reduce their energy consumption as well as their household bills.

On the surface, green heating systems are a great option for those who wish to help curb climate change, meanwhile moving away from the reliance on gas and electric and the spiking related costs, however there are other considerations before installing an eco-friendly green heating system such as the upfront investment and the performance of such systems.

Next we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a range of green heating system options currently available on the market, including a variety of heat pumps.

What are Heat Pumps?

Firstly, let’s cover what a heat pump is exactly and then the typical costs of installation.

A heat pump functions by taking the air from either outside the property or from underground before warming it to the set temperature desired via the compressor and refrigerant, and then pumping the air around the property via the central heating or hot water system.

There are three common types of heat pumps currently available:

Air source heat pumps (ASHP) Such units are powered entirely by electric and are most suited for residential properties due to the smaller unit size. The unit requires installation on an external wall of the property and therefore the overall appearance would need to be considered.

Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) Ground source heat pumps extract the air from the ground in order to process for household heating requirements. The benefits of utilising underground air is that the temperature is typically higher and more consistent that using outside, above ground air, however the size requirements are bigger than the air source pump due to the trenching network of pipes and therefore the installation is more complex and expensive.

Hybrid heat pumps A Hybrid system combines an air source heat pump with another system such as a traditional gas or electric boiler.

Although heat pumps do require electric in order to operate, they are an efficient and eco-friendly heating system option for households.

However, as highlighted by Heatable it is commonly found that heat pumps provide variable and inconsistent heat outputs and therefore households can choose to install a heat pump alongside another type of heating system such as under floor heating.

In addition, in households with high heating and hot water demands, a dual system may be required such as a heat pump plus a traditional gas or electric boiler.

The cost of heat pumps vary widely between £6,000 and £45,000 and therefore significant research is required before investing into such a green heating system to ensure that the type of heat pump is suitable for the property and will actually provide sufficient energy for the household requirements.

The overall costs of a new heat pump system will vary depending on the type of pump suitable, the size needed to provide energy for the household and the installation requirements. Certain installations may benefit from the Government’s current financial incentive scheme, The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Installing a Heat Pump System

Advantages of Heat Pumps –

  • Heat pumps provide a low carbon option to a heating solution.
  • Heat pumps usually have a long-life span of up to 50 years and have low maintenance costs.
  • Heat pumps are safer than gas boilers as they do not burn dangerous gases.
  • The technology can be used to both heat and cool, providing a solution all year round depending on the external conditions.
  • By installing a heat pump, you may be eligible for government funding. Check the government’s website for current schemes and which heat pump installations are included.
  • Heat pumps can provide savings on energy bills. Actual savings will vary depending on the original type of heating and household demand, however as a rough estimation if a property switches from a fully electric heating system to a heat pump, the annual savings could be approximately £500.

Disadvantages of Heat Pumps –

  • The upfront costs of the heat pump unit itself and installation costs are a significant consideration for households. In addition, the repayment period in order to recover the initial set up costs will take a significant period of time from the potential energy savings.
  • Should a heat pump be installed that is not suitable for the property size or household demand, the running costs can be high and the output inconsistent.
  • Other parts of the heating system such as radiators may require replacing depending on the heat pump type. Such queries should be discussed with a heating engineer before committing to ensure the full installation costs are known.
  • Installation can be difficult depending on the type of pump required. A property survey should always take place before the household commit to an installation, to ensure that the system will be suitable and there is sufficient space for the installation.
  • Planning permission is sometimes required for the heat pump installation.
  • Over time upgrades may be required to the heat pump. Before committing to a supplier, it is recommended that ongoing upgrades are discussed so that the homeowner is fully aware of the ongoing costs.
Final Words

We have been exploring green heating solutions during this article, predominantly focusing on heat pumps including discussing the typical costs of installation plus the advantages and disadvantages.

The upfront costs of heat pumps are significant and therefore it is highly recommended that extensive research is undertaken into; the type of heat pump desired, the household demands and the installation costs before proceeding. In addition, a property survey will be required to ensure the selected type will be suitable for the property and household needs.

The Government’s current scheme that provides some financial incentives to homeowners that install green heating systems is called the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. Further details on the scheme and the application process can be found via the Government’s website.

Thank you for reading.

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