04th December, 2023
Last updated: 22nd May, 2023Guides
As energy efficiency and environmental concerns continue to shape our choices, heat pumps have emerged as a popular option for heating and cooling homes.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the workings of heat pumps, explore their benefits, discuss different types of heat pumps, and provide insights into when a gas boiler might be a more suitable alternative.
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By the end, you'll have the knowledge to make an informed decision for your home heating needs.
A heat pump transfers captured heat from the air outside to the inside of a property, this is then used to fuel the property’s central or underfloor heating (in some cases provide hot running water also).
Heat energy is present everywhere, including outside, heat flows naturally from a warmer place to a colder place, to heat a home however, heat energy would need to do the opposite, flow from a colder to a warmer place. Here’s how it happens -
As the pressure of a gas increases, so does its temperature, and in turn the temperature decreases with a drop in pressure.
The gas used in the heat pump process is called a refrigerant, and is compressed by electricity to raise the pressure and temperature, as the refrigerant's heat is transferred to a property via the heat exchanger, it cools down a tad.
The refrigerant then expands so it cools further, the resultant low temperature gas is now cold enough to absorb more heat from outside and begin the process again.
The heat that has been deposited in the heat exchanger in the process mentioned above would traditionally occur via a central heating system.
Heat pumps are renowned for their energy efficiency, resulting in significant savings on heating and cooling costs compared to traditional systems. They achieve high energy efficiency ratios (EER) and coefficient of performance (COP) ratings, leading to lower utility bills and reduced carbon emissions.
Heat pumps harness renewable energy sources, such as ambient air, ground, or water, reducing the carbon footprint associated with home heating and cooling. By choosing a heat pump, you contribute to a more sustainable future by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.
Heat pumps can efficiently heat and cool your home, providing comfort throughout the year. With a simple adjustment, they can switch between heating and cooling modes, eliminating the need for separate systems and ensuring optimal comfort regardless of the season.
Durability Heat pumps generally have a longer lifespan than traditional heating systems, leading to reduced maintenance and replacement costs. Properly maintained heat pumps can operate efficiently for 15-20 years, providing reliable heating and cooling for an extended period.
Installing a heat pump can increase the value of your property, as energy-efficient solutions are highly sought after in today's real estate market. The long-term savings, environmental benefits, and comfort advantages associated with heat pumps make your home more desirable to potential buyers.
These extract heat from the outside air and can be categorised into air-to-air and air-to-water heat pumps. Air-to-air heat pumps transfer heat to the indoor air through a fan coil unit, providing direct heating and cooling.
They are suitable for homes with existing ductwork or those looking for a cost-effective solution. Air-to-water heat pumps transfer heat to a water-based distribution system, such as underfloor heating or radiators, offering efficient heating throughout the home. They are particularly beneficial for homes without ductwork and can be integrated with existing hydronic systems.
These extract heat from the ground through buried pipes. Ground-source heat pumps offer high efficiency due to the relatively constant temperature of the ground, providing consistent heating and cooling performance. While installation costs are higher, they offer long-term energy savings and reduce dependence on external air temperatures.
While a heat pump may in some certain circumstances offer better options for home hating, in the majority of UK cases a new gas boiler may symbolise the most effective and financially considerate method of heating your home.
In regions with extremely cold winters, where temperatures regularly drop below freezing, a gas boiler may provide more efficient and reliable home heating. Gas boilers can deliver a high heat output even in severe cold conditions, ensuring consistent warmth in you home.
If your home already has a secure and efficient gas connection, it may be more cost effective to proceed with this type of set up. This eliminates the need for additional electrical modifications also that need to be considered for a heat pump switch.
Gas boilers generally have lower initial upfront costs compared to heat pumps, therefore if you have a smaller budget or simply prefer the more affordable option, a gas boiler can be the more obvious solution.
The UK Government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme has fallen short of its ambitious target to replace a significant number of boilers with taxpayer-subsidised heat pumps.
The scheme was allocated a budget of £150 million to fund 30,000 heat pump installations in its first year. However, recent figures from Ofgem reveal that in the first 12 months, fewer than 10,000 households received a £5,000 subsidy voucher, resulting in £90 million of unspent budget being returned to the Treasury.
Despite the initial shortfall, the scheme is set to continue for another two years, with £300 million allocated to encourage the installation of more heat pumps.
Heat Pump Pros
Modern Gas Boiler Pros
Heat Pump Cons
Gas Boiler Cons
Boilers can be a daunting purchase for many people as they’re an appliance with a lot of responsibility, providing heat for you and your family is something you want to get right. Boilers aren’t exactly a quickly disposable item either, potentially lasting you a decade.
Boiler costs can be split into two segments: the first is the actual boiler itself (unit price), and the second is the cost of the boiler being installed (set up) in your property by an expert engineer.
Here at iHeat, we want to remove all of this undue stress and make the decision making process of upgrading to a new central heating system, as easy as possible.
Boiler costs can vary depending on a number of factors including their brand, model, fuel, output, warranty, labour and installation type. Typically a new boiler will cost between £1,845 and £3,500, below is a list of average boiler installations offered by iHeat.
Price (inc VAT)
Combi to combi swap
System to combi conversion
New boiler install
Back boiler to a combi
System to system
Some location factors that can influence the price of your new boiler
You will be given a specific quote from the boiler installation company based on:
The type of home you have (i.e. terraced, semi-detached, etc.)
How many bedrooms you have
How many bathrooms you have
Your postcode and specific location
The Alpha E-Tec Hybrid heat pump is a heating solution that its manufacturers claim to be both a gateway into renewable heating, while never compromising on the reliability provided from a traditional gas boiler.
This boiler is a highly efficient and modern combi and can run off traditional mains gas or LPG (ideal for off-grid properties).
Alpha have designed this boiler to be installed without the requirement of an airing cupboard for housing, making this type of install extremely simple for a Gas Safe registered engineer.
An Alpha E-Tec Hybrid can be fully synchronised with modern and convenient smart tech controls, allowing for instant and efficient temperature regulation.
A small temperature control dial is included with the installation, simple to use and portable to a bedside table, kitchen side top or coffee table next to a sofa, meaning you can warm up your home from wherever you like.
The E-Tec boiler uses a feature called ‘outdoor temperature and demand’ to monitor and adjust flow temperature. Sensors on the outdoor heat pump will detect low temperatures and switch your heating on to combat the cold, including radiators in any room you require!
The heat pump will switch on at a certain temperature removing unnecessary strain from your boiler, a highly cost effective route as energy and gas tariffs are analysed in order to ascertain the most efficient and financially responsible way to heat your home.
Your current energy consumption data is put into the Alpha software and smartphone app to produce the best possible heating strategy for you, and any time your needs or bills change you can filter in new data to re-calibrate your plan.
Alpha studied annual energy usage and have determined 60% of the year the heat pump will be the most financially viable heating option, allowing for huge potential savings on your gas bill as heat pumps run on electricity.
Despite recent misconceptions that there is a looming ‘ban’ on gas boilers, this is actually incorrect!
It’s still completely legal to buy and install a new gas boiler in any type of property, the supposed ‘ban’ only applies to new build properties after 2025.
There is no current financial penalty to keeping an existing gas boiler in any type of property past 2025, or installing a new gas boiler in any pre existing property past 2025.
New gas boilers blend efficiency, safety, cost effectiveness and versatility, hence their constantly rising popularity.
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