The heat is on

Have you con­sid­ered fit­ting a heat pump at home? They’re not cheap but save cash in the long run by us­ing re­new­able en­ergy

Rutherglen Reformer - - House & Home - Ju­lia Gray

Most peo­ple opt for either a ground or air source heat pump be­cause wa­ter source heat pumps need a loch, river, stream or other body of wa­ter to work and most of us don’t have one of those in our gar­den.

The En­ergy Sav­ing Trust (en­er­gysav­ says that ground source heat pumps cost from around £13,000£20,000, while air source heat pumps are less ex­pen­sive at around £7,000-£11,000.

Ground source heat pumps ex­tract warmth from the earth and use it to heat your home and hot wa­ter. The (above-ground) pump is con­nected to a se­ries of pipes (the ground loop) buried in the gar­den and can be used in all sea­sons, al­though you may need a back-up heat­ing sys­tem in win­ter.

Air source heat pumps take heat from the air out­side, in­crease its tem­per­a­ture and use it in­side the home. There are two types – air-to-air pumps and air-to-wa­ter pumps. The for­mer pro­duce warm (and also cool) air and cir­cu­late it through fans. Air-to-wa­ter pumps sup­ply your home’s (wet) cen­tral heat­ing sys­tem. Air source heat pumps can work at tem­per­a­tures as low as -15˚C out­side, but can be less ef­fec­tive when it’s colder than -5 ˚C, so, again, another form of heat­ing may be needed in win­ter.

If your home’s heated by ra­di­a­tors, they won’t get as hot with a heat pump as they would with a boiler – you’ll need to have them on for longer or re­place them with more pow­er­ful ones. The per­fect part­ner for a heat pump is wet un­der­floor heat­ing be­cause both work at lower tem­per­a­tures. How­ever, wet un­der­floor heat­ing isn’t par­tic­u­larly easy or cost­ef­fec­tive to retro­fit – it’s of­ten bet­ter to in­stall when build­ing or ren­o­vat­ing a prop­erty.

Heat pumps warm the air gen­tly, so they’re not ideal if your home heats up and cools down quickly. For this rea­son, they work most ef­fi­ciently in homes with good in­su­la­tion which a lot of pe­riod prop­er­ties lack. While you should cut your home’s CO2 emis­sions by fit­ting a heat pump, how much will de­pend on the type of heat­ing you’re re­plac­ing. Heat pumps need elec­tric­ity to work, so the most en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly op­tion is to gen­er­ate your own elec­tric­ity us­ing so­lar pan­els or a wind tur­bine, for ex­am­ple, but th­ese are ex­pen­sive to in­stall.

Ra­di­a­tors won’t get as hot with a heat pump. A ground source heat pump, pic­tured here, ex­tracts its warmth from the earth

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