Are heat pumps the best option for your home in Northamptonshire?
What is best for you and what are the alternatives?
Is a heat pump worth buying?The decision to install an air source heat pump or a geothermal ground source heat pump system depends on the large range of factors already highlighted in the left hand table of contents. The relatively high initial cost of installing heat pumps may mean that if you are looking for a cheap way of becoming more energy efficient and saving on energy bills, other ways such as loft or cavity wall insulation may be more appropriate. When considering whether or not to install a heat pump you should be aware that, if you currently use mains gas to heat your home and water, a heat pump system may not provide you with a substantial financial saving in the short term. However, if you currently use oil, electricity, liquid gas or solid fuels to heat your home, an air or ground source heat pump may be a good way of reducing your carbon footprint and saving money on energy bills, especially with the Renewable Heat Incentive payments. Bear in mind that this scheme is due to close from March 2022. When you are planning to switch from a conventional boiler to a heat pump there are 5 important questions to ask:
- Is heat pump technology suitable for your property?
- Do you have the right sized heat pump for your property?
- Will all your heating and hot water requirements be taken care of with a heat pump?
- Will a heat pump save you money?
- Are you confident that you have a highly competent installer to install your heat pump per the manufacturer’s recommendations?
The financial decicion.There are many benefits to having a heat pump system installed, but when deciding whether to invest in a heat pump, you will probably first ask yourself whether the unit will be a sound financial investment. The average cost including installation at 2021 prices is
As you can see, compared to a standard condensing boiler, these prices can often be perceived as a little on the daunting side.
The best thing to do is to try to work out a payback period. To do this, ask your installer how much the proposed system is likely to save you on your energy bills and make sure you are getting a system that is sufficient for you and your property’s needs. Work out how much this will save you annually then how many years of this saving it would take to cover the initial investment. Bear in mind that the price you pay for your energy is likely to increase dramatically so you could be protecting yourself from future price appreciation.
Factor in any possible grants and the current ‘Renewable Heat Incentive’ rates. Also ask yourself whether you will still own the property for longer than the unit’s pay-back period. Maintenance costs are very low so you shouldn’t have to factor much in for this. A heat pump system is said to last for 20-30 years or longer so you should be able to save a vast amount of money (and carbon emissions) in the long run. As stated before, a heat pump system will most likely have a much shorter pay-back period if it is replacing an electrical, oil or coal-fired heating system.
After considering all of these factors, you should be able to work out your proposed system’s financial worth. Although we have covered the environmental aspect of heat pump systems in previous sections, it’s always a good idea to speak to your installer as he/she will probably be able to give you a more unique perspective.
Potential issues to be aware of regarding the purchase of a heat pump.
Always make sure that your property is suitable and will definitely benefit from a heat pump system before investing. Check with more than one installer for information and a quote. Graham Stringer (Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton) has cautioned against the indiscriminate use of heat pumps: “Heat pumps are a big investment for both householder and taxpayer, and both deserve to be assured that they will be worth the money.”
Stringer quotes the Energy Saving Trust report above, which showed that “only one of the 22 properties that had ground source heat pumps achieved the implicit minimum EU directive COP, and that only nine of the 47 sites with air source heat pumps achieved that standard”
The report suggests that the installers were largely to blame for these results. The main reason being errors in the sizing of the system needed for the property. When assessing the heat demand of a property the assessor must look at previous bills over the course of at least one year to account for heating requirement variations. They should also be using ISO 52016-1:2017: ‘Energy performance of buildings – Energy needs for heating and cooling’. This calculation method helps in the assessment of space heating requirements for buildings in the UK.
Basically in order to give a positive response to the question ‘Is a heat pump worth it?’ you must make sure that your installer has correctly assessed your heating requirements and that your proposed system’s collector, pump, and emitters are proportionate to your heating demands.