As of April 2022, the UK Government’s new £5k grants for heat pumps are available in England and Wales. Take-up should hopefully be huge. With energy prices soaring, the rush to ditch gas boilers and move to eco-friendly heat pumps is on. To get your home ready, preparation is key.
Although heat pumps can run off your existing central heating system, there are some measures you need to take before installation. Here are some things to consider:
Heat pumps are designed to keep your home at a steady temperature, rather than the short sharp blasts of heat provided by gas boilers. That’s why the first step is to check your home is properly insulated. Focus on your walls, roof, windows and doors.
Much of this can be done as simple DIY jobs, like lagging pipes or sealing leaky windows with inexpensive rubber trim. Laying insulation in the attic is also straightforward. Just make sure it’s 30cm thick. However, wall insulation will require a professional installer.
For a detached house you can save around £425 per year on energy bills with wall insulation. There are two types. For properties built since 1930, cavity wall insulation involves foam or beads being injected into the gap between the inner wall and outer brickwork.
Properties built before then may well have solid walls. These will require the fitting of foam boards to the inside of your home’s external walls. Insulation can be added externally but it is more expensive.
Which kind of heat pump?
They come in two formats. Air source heat pumps look like an air conditioning unit attached to the outside of a property. They work like reverse fridges, extracting warmth from the outside air then transferring it to a refrigerant, which is compressed to increase its temperature.
Ground source heat pumps work in a similar way but use a network of pipes in the ground to collect heat, so they are more efficient but also more costly to install.
Which one you go for depends on factors like: the size of your home, your budget, the size of your garden and access. Both work best with larger radiators or underfloor heating. Seek the advice of an accredited installer.
How to find a good installer
The main UK quality assurance scheme for low-carbon energy technologies is the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Through its website, you can find accredited installers. It’s best to get three quotes.