We start with a warning. Cutting corners is dangerous, and may result in a substandard heat pump installation. If a heat pump is not installed by experts for optimum efficiency with long-term use, the costs will skyrocket over time as inefficiency and maintenance issues come into play.
Your heat pump must be installed by a MCS accredited firm. Installers should also be a member of REAL, and registered to a recognised association such as the HPA. These accreditations all indicate a professional and experienced heat pump installer. If you’re hoping to earn Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) tariffs payments, the regulations state that your system must have been installed by a MCS accredited company, in compliance with RECC or HIES code of practice.
In a nutshell, the benefits, cost-savings, and RHI earnings from a heat pump are beneficial enough, without the need to dramatically cut costs or risk a poor installation. That said, here are some basic tips for a cost-effective heat pump installation…
This is a UK government initiative linked to the RHI scheme, which allows homeowners to select a nominated investor to fund the cost of buying and installing a heat pump. This means that initial outlay is minimised or removed completely, with the investor collecting the property’s RHI payments as the method of payback. For more information about AoR, read this article.
Property owners in Scotland have the opportunity to apply for the Home Energy Scotland Loan. For heat pumps, the loan covers up to £10,000 interest-free, with a payback schedules of up to 12 years. For more information about the Home Energy Scotland Loan, read this article.
Ground source heat pumps absorb consistent low-grade heat from below the ground. Domestic and non-domestic property owners have the choice of a vertical system using deep boreholes, or a horizontal system using shallow trenches spread over a larger surface area.
The costs differ, with vertical systems always proving more expensive at installation phase. Due to the specialist plant and skills required to drill boreholes, vertical ground source heat pump systems need more budget at the outset. It is difficult to cut the costs of a vertical system, due to the specialisms which are needed at each phase of the project, from design to installation.
The main way to save money when installing a horizontal ground source heat pump is to dig the trenches yourself, with borrowed or hired digging equipment. This can be incorporated into a self-build project when the excavators are already on-site, provided the dimensions are planned.
This would remove the cost of hiring groundworks contractors, which may otherwise set you back between £2-5 per metre. When you’re excavating 250-750 metres of trenches, these pounds soon add up. If you’re doing your own trenching, it’s critical to allow enough space to bury the ground loops at a depth of around 2 metres.
The lengths of these loops vary depending on the size of the heat pump. For the smaller 6kW heat pump, the ground loop is usually 250-300 metres in length, whereas a larger 12kW ground source heat pump needs a ground loop of around 750 metres. When digging trenches for horizontal ground source heat pump systems, speak to your installation partner first.
Air source heat pump installations are relatively straightforward, with little room for cutting costs. The most important factor is to plan the location of the external unit, and ensure that the ASHP is the correct size for your house and heat demands. With no digging involved, there is limited opportunity to conduct your own work. A qualified installer is needed to install and configure the system, link it up to your heat distribution, and commission the system into operation.
The government has noted the steady decline in air source heat pump costs, which is a positive indication of the growing interest and investment in renewable heating solutions across Europe. So, installing an air source heat pump is already much cheaper than it was a few years ago!
The Home Energy Scotland Loan will easily cover the cost of an air source heat pump, and in England and Wales the Assignment of Rights (AoR) is a good option if capital outlay is a barrier.
Your heating and hot water is the most important element to consider in terms of being able to live comfortably in your home, so it makes sense to invest your money rather than look at ways to cut costs – which could potentially put you in a difficult situation later down the line.
It is vital that your heat pump is installed correctly, otherwise you might not benefit from the long-term savings available. We would strongly advise you choose an MCS accredited installer such as ourselves, to ensure not only expertise but guarantee RHI scheme qualification.
There are lots of renewable heat installers who aren’t really sure how heat pumps work. They might offer you a cheaper quote initially, but if it’s not set up correctly you are in danger of being left with a piece of technology which you don’t know how to use – and it might not be as cheap to run as you thought. Given that it’s a very complex piece if technology, it must be considered as a careful investment, in partnership with qualified stakeholders.
You can take the best performing machine and through poor design of the ground loop and/or radiators, or by mis-sizing the actual heat pump, the project may result in a heating system that not only is extremely costly to run, but doesn’t keep your house or water warm.
At Smart Renewable Heat, we take great care in the design of your system, we listen to your specific needs, and we provide you with the best options for your budget. With our on-going support, you don’t need to worry about “fit-and-run”, and we on’t use cheap materials or substandard equipment. We know that a badly-designed system will impact your comfort, running costs, and RHI payments. Contact us for more about how to install a ground source or air source heat pump.
Please contact us using the form below, or call us on 0800 865 4328.