4 C
Saturday, April 20, 2024

Energy expert debunks heat pumps myths

A SERIES of commonly-held myths about heat pumps are harming the UK’s bid to reach net zero carbon emissions, an expert has warned.

As the country ramps up its efforts in the battle against climate change, heat pumps are becoming a more common fixture in households.

But the pace of change towards a greener future could be even quicker if more homeowners understood the benefits of the renewable energy source and separate fact from fiction.

Huge role in temperature control

Ryan Harrison from energyadvicehelpline.org, based in Lancashire said: “There’s no doubt heat pumps will play a huge role in how we control temperatures in our homes in the future.

“They are highly efficient and make excellent low carbon alternatives to traditional gas boilers and inefficient alternatives, such as oil or LPG, ensuring we can all make our homes greener.

“However, as they are still relatively new, it’s understandable that many people won’t know too much about how they work and might be deterred by a number of common myths.

“For example, some are being put off because they mistakenly believe heat pumps are too noisy, while others fear the costs might be too high.

“It’s important not to let misinformation prevent you from discovering the huge benefits a heat pump can bring, not just to your home but for the planet as well.”

How heat pumps work

A heat pump extracts heat from the air or ground outside a property (even in sub-zero temperatures) and using the same process as a household fridge, but in reverse, uses refrigerant gas and a compressor to generate heat, which can be used in radiators or to heat water for baths and showers.

As the UK tries to move away from a reliance on fossil fuels to provide energy, the Government is encouraging homeowners to introduce sustainable sources such as heat pumps.

However, the most recent statistics available puts the UK at the bottom of the European league table for installations of heat pumps, thanks in part to them being misunderstood by residents.

The Energy Savings Trust says the country’s 23 million gas-powered homes will need to be replaced by low-carbon alternatives if the goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is to be achieved.


The level of grants available in the Boiler Upgrade Scheme have now increased from £5,000 for air source heat pumps and £6,000 for the ground variety to £7,500.

Energyadvicehelpline.org is helping people discover any grants they can apply for to cut the cost of making their home more energy efficient.

These include the ECO4 Scheme, which started last year, that provides insulation, air source heat pump systems and the installation of solar panels for renewable energy.

It’s open to households where any resident receives a means-tested benefit – such as Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits, or other financial support.

Those with an annual household income below £31,000 can also apply in many areas of the UK.

Five common heat pumps myths

1. They only work in buildings already well-insulated

It’s not essential to have your home efficiently insulated in order to install a heat pump, although it goes without saying that they are more effective if it is. They work perfectly well in older buildings with the right system and installation – To prove this point, several National Trust buildings dating back to the 1700s are successfully using heat pumps, including Blickling Hall in Norfolk.

2. They cost significantly more to run than gas boilers

There are a few variables which dictate whether this is true or not, such as energy prices and the efficiency of both the old and new appliances, but done correctly heat pumps offer lifetime savings over fossil fuel-based systems. A heat pump with an average efficiency should save a household around £150 per year.

3. They can be too noisy
While heat pumps do make some noise while operating, context is very important here.
They usually come in at around 40 decibels which, according to the Energy Savings Trust, is the same as the average library. Planning legislation also dictates that noise from your heat pump must be lower than 42 decibels when heard from your neighbours’ homes to avoid disturbances.

4. They don’t work in countries with colder climates
Given how chilly the weather in the UK can get, it’s understandable that some people may have concerns whether or not our climate is compatible with heat pumps.
However, they are commonplace in even colder countries such as Sweden and Norway and work totally fine. In fact, heat pumps can continue to work effectively even if temperatures plummet as low as -16C.

5. They can devalue homes
Some people may have concerns that installing a heat pump may affect what a potential buyer might be willing to pay for their home in the future. However, the reality is the total opposite. Research by estate agents Savills suggests homes with a heat pump can demand a 59 per cent premium compared to regional averages.



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