Heat pump homeowner case study

2 Jul 2024
5 min read
Home owner with heat pump controls

Clare Johnson lives in a village near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire with her husband and two children. In December 2023, the family had an air source heat pump installed in their detached four-bedroom home. Here Clare explains why they took the decision, what the installation process was like and, crucially, the costs and savings.

House with heat pump

We bought our home 10 years ago as a new build with a gas boiler that was still working fine, but we wanted to come off gas for environmental reasons and, given the increase in government grants for heat pumps, it seemed like the right time. My husband is interested in renewables so this felt like an obvious next step towards decarbonising our home. We have a friend who had a heat pump installed recently and it was very successful so this encouraged us to take the decision.

A quick install

Our house is well suited to a heat pump – we have underfloor heating throughout the downstairs and it is well insulated. We had our house assessed by the installer before work started and they assured us that the work wouldn’t be very disruptive.

Our installer was Oxon Energy. They recommended a Clivet heat pump and the work was completed in less than two weeks. Oxon Energy didn’t have a waiting list so it all happened quickly and efficiently. There was a period of about five days when we had no central heating because the old system had been removed and it takes a few days for the new system to be installed and up and running. Unfortunately, this was during a particularly cold snap so it’s worth having some extra heat sources if you are doing the work over the winter. Oxon Energy lent us some plug-in radiators and we have a wood burner in our sitting room, so it wasn’t unbearable.

Changes inside the house

Inside the house, we replaced the radiators upstairs. This is quite common as heat pumps often require bigger radiators. We took this as an opportunity to replace the less attractive radiators that had been fitted when the house was built with more contemporary ones. Oxon Energy sourced and installed these and it wasn’t particularly disruptive. They removed the old gas boiler and capped the gas supply. They filled in the space where the gas boiler had been and we took the opportunity to redecorate the utility room, which needed repainting anyway. The old water tank in our upstairs airing cupboard was replaced with a very similar tank that is compatible with the new system. Then it was a case of connecting the heat pump up with the underfloor heating system and, while there were some teething problems initially, this wasn’t messy or disruptive.

Heat pump unit outside house

The outside unit

It’s a fairly big unit that sits outside at the back of the house, next to the utility room. It’s around one metre high and 1.5 metre wide. It’s not very attractive and you need a fair bit of space to accommodate the unit so it’s worth thinking about this. Ideally, you’d want somewhere discreet to put it. We were a bit worried about the noise from the pump disturbing the neighbours but the hum it makes isn’t loud and we can’t hear it from inside the house either.

A warm, steady temperature inside

The house feels warm and cosy. This is partly because it’s so well insulated so we’ve never had an issue with the house feeling cold but the heat pump has definitely kept us warm this winter. We set it to an ambient temperature phased throughout the day and night – so the underfloor heating kicks in in the morning and evening until the room temperature reaches 20 degrees. It’s not set up so that you can give the heating a boost when the house feels cool as heat pumps are designed to maintain a steady, ambient temperature. This is why having good insulation is important. I have noticed that the hot water isn’t quite as hot as when we had a gas boiler but it’s plenty hot enough for a decent shower.

The costs

The installation was carried out through the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme so £7,500 of the cost was covered through this. We paid approximately an additional £4k to cover the remaining install costs including the new radiators. You do need the upfront cash to cover the entire install cost as the grant money takes a few weeks to come through. The system has only been in situ for three months so we’re still getting a feel for the cost savings compared with the old gas boiler. It is pretty satisfying to see that our gas bill is now zero! Of course, the electricity bill has gone up and it’s difficult to work out how much the heat pump is saving us as we also have an electric vehicle so a fair chunk of our electricity bill is apportioned to that. As an estimate, we are already saving at least £50 per month as a result of the heat pump.

And finally

I’m pleased we took this decision. It’s one way we can significantly reduce our carbon emissions on a personal level. The disruption was minimal and the grant makes it more affordable so I’d definitely encourage people to explore this option, particularly if their gas boiler is coming to an end of its life.


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