Facebook pixel
new boiler

Get a new boiler

Fixed price boilers, next day

See boiler prices
new air conditioning

Air Conditioning

Get a quote
new heat pump

Heat Pumps

Coming soon

new ev charger

EV Chargers

Get a quote
boiler servicing

Boiler Servicing

Get a quote

Last updated: 2nd July, 2024


Heat Pumps: The Ultimate UK guide

Heat Pumps: The Ultimate UK guide

Key takeaways

  • Heat pumps capture heat from the air outside and transfer it to the inside of a property, supplying very efficient central heating.
  • Heat pumps can be very expensive in terms of initial costs, with some being into the tens of thousands.
  • Many properties are more suited to a new gas boiler, this represents the most efficient.

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. 

Need a new boiler?

Get a quote in 60 seconds, fitted as fast as next day!
0% APR finance available.

Get a quote

By the end, you'll have the knowledge to make an informed decision for your home heating needs.

What is a Heat Pump and How Do They Work?

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

Energy Efficiency

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.

Environmental Friendliness

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.

Increased Home Value

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.

Air-Source Heat Pumps 

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.


Ground-Source Heat Pumps (Geothermal)

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.


Where Is a Gas Boiler a Better option?

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.

Cold Climate

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.

Existing Gas Infrastructure

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.

Lower Initial Cost

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.

Government Boilers Upgrade Scheme Failure

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.

Advantages of Both Heat Pumps & Modern Gas Boilers

Heat Pump Pros

Modern Gas Boiler Pros

  • Potential savings - Heat pumps have generated a lot of buzz due to their potential to generate long term savings for prospective buyers. Heat pumps are extremely efficient in the production of heat energy, meaning a reduction in heating bills, saving prospective buyers what could turn out to be a significant amount of money each year.

  • Very efficient - Modern gas boilers are extremely efficient with most having an ErP classification of A with an energy efficiency percentage in the 90s. Upgrading an older, antiquated boiler to a new efficient combi, could save a homeowner in the region of £400 a year (per Energy Savings Trust) 

  • Reduces carbon emissions - The efficiency of a heat pump’s conversion rate and the fact it does not burn a fuel to operate, lowers a household's carbon emissions. This not only helps the planet, but also increases the safety of the home’s occupants.

  • Cheap to run - Gas is one of the cheapest types of fuel available, ensuring low running costs for modern, efficient combi boilers. This is especially beneficial in these times of unprecedented energy prices.

  • Long lifespan - On average the lifespan of a heat pump installation is around 15 years, some can however last up to 50 years!

  • Abundant - modern combi and system boilers are extremely popular in the UK, meaning their parts are easily replaced should an issue occur.

  • Can provide cooling air - When it’s hot outside, certain heat pumps are actually capable of reversing their operational process to perform like an air conditioning unit.

  • Easy to install - modern gas boilers are a relatively easy install for a trained engineer, between 1-2 days is the average time for a new gas boiler, offering minimal disruption and property upheaval 

  • Government help initiatives - The government introduced the boiler upgrade scheme. This £450 million initiative comes as part of the Heat and Buildings Strategy that offers a £6,000 reduction of the supply and installation of a ground source (£5000 for air source) heat pump for property owners in England and Wales.

  • Low unit cost - modern gas boilers are comparatively cheap per unit, especially when compared to some heat pumps, with some models costing up to 20 times less!

Disadvantages of Both Heat Pumps & Modern Gas Boilers

Heat Pump Cons

Gas Boiler Cons

  • High initial system cost  - Heat pumps demand a very high initial purchase price with some units costing upwards of £45,000! This can negate the idea of savings offered by installing a heat pump for many people.

  • No cooling function - Gas boilers don’t have a cooling or air conditioning modality or setting

  • Electricity cost - Electricity, as mentioned, is one of the most costly types of fuel available, especially when compared to gas.

  • Not the most environmentally friendly - Gas boilers rely on the combustion of carbon based fuel, even though gas boilers have made great green strides, they are still not carbon neutral

  • Not entirely carbon neutral - Despite being reliant upon electricity to function, heat pumps are not totally carbon neutral, this is because the process of producing the electricity can be quite a carbon intensive task.

  • Servicing - Gas fuelled boilers can require a yearly inspection, known as servicing, not a legal requirement but an encouraged proactive measure.

  • Not every property is suited for heat pumps - Some properties don’t have sufficient insulation to be an ideal heat pump location. Without considerable insulation, the heat generated from a pump would be lost. Loft and cavity wall insulation can bump up the cost of a heat pump installation considerably.

New Boiler Costs

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.

Installation Type

Price (inc VAT)

Combi to combi swap


Get a quote

System to combi conversion


Get a quote

New boiler install


Get a quote

Back boiler to a combi


Get a quote

System to system


Get a quote

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

Hybrid Heat Pump: The best of both worlds

Alpha E-TEC Hybrid Heat Pump

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.

Key Features:

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.

Is It Worth Getting A New Gas Boiler?

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.

Get a quote

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Heat Pumps Worth It in the UK?

Heat pumps are worth considering in the UK for their energy efficiency and environmental benefits. They offer a sustainable heating alternative, especially with incentives like the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) that help offset initial costs.

What is the Downside to a Heat Pump?

The main downsides of heat pumps include high initial installation costs, reduced efficiency in very cold weather, and the need for a well-insulated home. Installation can also be invasive, requiring modifications to the existing heating system.

Why Doesn’t the UK Use Heat Pumps?

While adoption has been slower due to costs, awareness, and compatibility issues with older buildings, the UK is increasingly adopting heat pumps. New regulations and government incentives are driving more installations despite initial barriers.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Heat Pump in the UK?

Installing a heat pump in the UK typically costs between £6,000 to £18,000, depending on the type and specific installation requirements. Air source heat pumps are generally less expensive than ground source heat pumps due to less intensive installation.

Why is My Electric Bill So High with an Air Source Heat Pump?

High electricity bills with an air source heat pump may result from inefficient operation, improper sizing for your home, or inadequate home insulation. During colder periods, increased usage can also lead to higher electricity consumption.

Is It Cheaper to Run a Heat Pump Than a Boiler?

Generally, heat pumps are cheaper to run than traditional gas boilers due to their higher energy efficiency. Despite the higher initial costs, heat pumps can significantly reduce long-term heating expenses.

Do I Still Need a Boiler If I Have a Heat Pump?

Whether you need a boiler alongside a heat pump depends on your heating needs and climate. In the UK, heat pumps can efficiently handle most heating demands but may require a boiler as backup during very cold weather for optimal comfort.

Stephen Day profile photo
Article by
Stephen Day | Co-founder
Gas Safe registered and FGAS certified engineer with over 20 years experience in the heating and cooling industry.