FAQs About Heat Pumps | Smart Renewable Heat

FAQs

Running costs are affected by many different factors, so it is difficult to make an intelligent estimate without knowing quite a lot about your project. A properly designed heat pump should always be cheaper to run than an oil or LPG boiler, often by a margin of 50% or more. Savings compared to a mains gas boiler may be less, so it is important to consider all aspects of the installation before you decide.

Yes. Heat pumps work well with most underfloor heating systems, but also with steel panel radiators, cast iron radiators, fan-assisted radiators, fan-coils, thermal skirting and blown air systems. Design is critical, and our experienced technicians will provide the most effective and appropriate installation for your project.

A heat pump can do everything a traditional fossil fuel boiler can, including provide domestic hot water. Heat pumps usually use an unvented hot water cylinder to store water at between 50⁰C and 65⁰C, depending on the heat pump model. To put this in perspective, modern thermostatic showers are limited to 38⁰C, so the hot water from a heat pump will provide a steaming hot bath if required.

There are two ways to install heat collector pipe; in vertical boreholes drilled into the bedrock, or in horizontal trenches 1 metre deep. Borehole systems require less space (minimum spacing 6-8m between boreholes); as a rule of thumb, a horizontal loop array will occupy between two and three times the total heated floor area of your house.

The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (Domestic RHI) is a government financial incentive to promote the use of renewable heat. Switching to heating systems that use eligible energy sources can help the UK reduce its carbon emissions and meet its renewable energy targets. Participants receive quarterly payments for seven years for the amount of clean, green renewable heat it’s estimated their system produces.  

Heat pumps do require more space than a wall-hung boiler, and the hot water cylinder is often situated next to the heat pump rather than in an airing cupboard, so planning a dedicated area for the equipment is a good idea. Utility rooms, garages, basements and even detached outbuildings can make a good plant room. A typical ground source system will require an area approximately 1m deep by 2m – 2.5m wide. A little less space is required for air source (as the heat pump is outside), usually about 1m deep by 1.5m wide.

For the vast majority of properties, a properly designed heat pump system will provide all your heating and hot water throughout the year, without the need for an old-fashioned gas or oil boiler as back-up.

A heat pump usually takes about a week to install and commission. This doesn’t include the installation of the ground heat exchanger or the installation of underfloor heating and/or radiators.

The installation of a ground source heat pump or a water source heat pump is usually considered to be permitted development, not needing an application for planning permission. Air source heat pumps may also be considered permitted development, provided that certain criteria are met. If you live in a listed building or a conservation area you should contact your council to check on local requirements; otherwise most installations are considered permitted development.

It might seem impossible, but most air source heat pumps can still deliver heat to your home when outdoor temperatures are as cold as -20⁰C. In your kitchen, your fridge/freezer continually extracts the heat from the freezer compartment to keep it at about -18⁰C; heat pumps use exactly the same technology to extract heat from even very cold air.

Air source heat pump installations usually cost between £7,500 and £12,500, depending on the size and power of the heat pump, how much hot water storage you require and whether you want the heat pump to be controllable over the internet. Ground source systems range from £11,000 to £20,000, again depending on the size of heat pump, hot water cylinder and ground loop system.

A heat pump system will benefit from annual servicing to ensure that all the mechanical connections are sound, settings are at their optimum and that the heat collector is working properly. Regular servicing is an ongoing obligation of the Renewable Heat Incentive, and may also be required to validate extended warranties.

Modern air source heat pumps are extremely quiet and should not provide any disturbance to you or your neighbours if installed properly. Planning regulations state that the noise level at the nearest assessment point (your neighbours nearest window) must be 42dBa or less – approximately the background noise you would expect in a library.

Considering a heat pump? Our free guides will help.

Do you have any more questions?

Please contact us directly, or check out our blog for useful advice about renewable heating.

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