Heat pumps explained: Sustainable heating expert shares everything homeowners need to know

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From next April, households will be offered subsidies of £5,000 to make the switch from a gas boiler to a heat pump. The grant will fund 90,000 heat pumps over a three-year period and will encourage homeowners to use low carbon technology to heat their homes. The announcement came as gas prices surged and energy firms went bust in the UK, leaving many households paying thousands more per year to heat their homes.

The increased prices have made many of us stand up and take notice of just how reliant we are on fossil fuels to heat our homes.

The Government’s aim is to reach net zero by 2050, with an interim target to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028.

However, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) only 30-35,000 heat pumps were sold in the UK in 2019.

The UK has a long way to go before low carbon heating becomes the norm which means Britons need to understand the environmental and financial cost of using gas boilers and how making the switch to a heat pump will impact them.

Iain Bevan, Commercial Manager of Heating & Renewables at Daikin UK, exclusively explained to Express.co.uk how heat pumps work, their benefits, how to know which system best suits your home, and the financing options currently available to you.

How do heat pumps work and what are their benefits?

Heat pumps extract energy from either the air, the ground or a body of water and transfer it into your home in a sustainable way.

They work similarly to a fridge which extracts heat from inside and transfers it outside, according to Mr Bevan.

But heat pumps work in reverse with an air source heat pump extracting heat from the air outside your home before transferring it inside, making your home warmer.

What types of heat pumps are there?

There are a few different types of heat pump, but they all have one thing in common – they’re powered mainly by renewable energy.

Air-to-water heat pumps replace your boiler and connect to your central heating system to provide heating, hot water and optional cooling.

A typical air source heat pump is more than three times as efficient as a gas boiler – 350 percent vs 90 percent.

For example, putting 1kW of gas into a boiler gives you 0.9kW of heat, while putting 1kW of electricity into an air source heat pump gives you around 3.5kW of heat.

Furthermore, a typical air-to-water heat pump will generate 45 percent fewer carbon emissions compared to a gas boiler because they’re typically powered by 80 percent air and just 20 percent electricity.

That’s a reduction of up to 43.5 tonnes of carbon emissions per home, over a system’s typical 15-year life span.

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Which heat pump system is right for my home?

Unlike some other parts of the world, UK homes are all different ages, shapes and designs and are located in a wide range of environments.

It’s important that you consider a number of factors when determining which heat pump system is the best option for your home.

According to Mr Bevan, some of these factors include whether your home is on or off the gas grid, how old and energy efficient your property is, whether you will be keeping your existing radiators, whether you’re planning a full renovation or just a light refurbishment, and whether you’re looking for just heating, cooling, or both.

The heat pump expert said: “It’s also important to consider if you’re ready to go 100 percent electric.

“If not, you can also get hybrid heat pump systems for both heating and hot water, powered by an optimal combination of air, electricity and gas depending on seasonal conditions and energy prices.

“Hybrid heat pumps can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 55 percent compared to a boiler alone, and have been proven to deliver up to a 50 percent reduction in energy bills in properties in the UK – before the recent gas price increase.

“Hybrid heat pumps combine the familiarity of a gas boiler with the performance of an air source heat pump, and automatically run in the cheapest mode available.

“And this has real potential to help fuel-poor households manage fuel price increases.”

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What funding is available to help me install a heat pump?

The Government is now incentivising homeowners who choose to heat their homes sustainably.

There are three key incentives at the moment which will help offset the upfront cost of installing a renewable heating system:

  1. The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme
  2. Assignment of Rights
  3. The Metering and Monitoring Service Package (MMSP)

RHI scheme

The Domestic RHI scheme is available to people living in England, Scotland and Wales, and is open to applications until March 31 2022.

It covers a range of solutions including air to water heat pumps, and offers quarterly payments over seven years according to a set of tariffs based on the system installed.

The Assignment of Rights

This is related to the Domestic RHI, and is also open for new applications until March 31 2022.

Mr Bevan explained that in this scheme an investor helps fund the purchase, installation, and maintenance of a renewable heating system, and in return, the rights to any RHI payments are assigned to them.

MMSP

If you opt for a Metering and Monitoring Service Package, you’ll have a set of heat meters, electricity meters and temperature sensors installed on your heating system.

This checks how well your system is performing and helps to inform further research on the performance of heat pumps.

You could receive an up-front payment of £805, plus £115 a year for seven years, making a total of £1,610.

It’s also worth noting that if you choose to replace your boiler (oil, LPG or solid fuel) with a Daikin heat pump, you can also get £500 boiler scrappage cashback from Daikin until March 31 2022.

What about after March 31 2022?

This week, as part of the Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Government announced a new grant to replace the Domestic RHI Scheme when it ends.

From April 2022, households in England and Wales will be offered £5,000 subsidies to help them make the switch from their boiler to a heat pump system.

This will help bring down the cost to a similar amount as it would be to install a traditional gas boiler.

For more information on heat pumps, the solutions and finance options available to you, visit Daikin UK.

There are also 22 Daikin Sustainable Home Centres across the country where you can visit a showroom, get to grips with the technology and discuss your needs with an expert.

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