A three-year boiler upgrade scheme will launch in April 2022. Worth a whopping £450 million, it will offer homeowners grants of £5,000 towards air source heating pumps.
Currently, the act of heating buildings is responsible for around a fifth of all carbon emissions in the UK, which wreaks havoc with the ozone layer, causing an increase in skin cancer rates and the extinction of many animal and plant species.
Providing a more eco-friendly and efficient way to heat your home, this grant is part of the government’s pledge to achieve a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
So, how exactly does the heat pump grant work, and who is eligible?
Within the below guide, we will explain everything you need to know about the heat pump grant, including:
- What is an air source heat pump?
- What types of air source pumps are there?
- What are the benefits of heat pumps?
- Do heat pumps work as well as gas boilers?
- How much do heat pumps cost?
- How does a heat pump differ from a gas boiler?
- What is the heat pump grant, and why is it needed?
- Who is eligible for the heat pump grant, and how to apply?
- Will the grant cover the whole cost?
- How much money can I save when I install a heat pump?
- Do I need to make changes to my home before installation?
- How to choose an air source heat pump installer
- What is the RHI scheme?
- How can I make my home more energy efficient?
- Heat pumps FAQs
What is an air source heat pump?
Air heat source pumps, also known as ASHPs, are a type of low carbon emission heating system that uses ambient air to heat your home.
ASHPs can be used for both hot water and space heating, gathering heat from the outside air and absorbing it into a loop with refrigerant fluid. After the heat has been extracted from the air, it is then passed through a compressor which compresses it and increases the temperature.
Another crucial component of a heat pump system is the heat exchanger, which transfers the heat through piping to your heat sources such as radiators and underfloor heating.
What types of air source heat pumps are there?
There are two types of air source heat pumps:
- Air to air heat pumps
- Air to water heat pumps
Air to air heat pumps generate energy by moving air from one location to another. This requires electricity. During the summer, heat is extracted from the inside, and this warm air will be released outside, ensuring your home stays cool. However, during the colder months, your pump will take air from the outside and warm it up to heat your home.
This type of air source pump only provides space heating. Although it can be combined with a boiler to heat water.
Air to water pumps, on the other hand, are able to provide both space and water heating for your home. This type of pump works just like an air to air pump, but it also pumps the heat to your wet central heating system.
What are the benefits of switching to an air source heat pump?
If you want to know more about why the UK is switching to air source heat pumps over the traditional gas boiler, the below advantages of this type of heating source should help to clarify the situation.
- It is a low-carbon-emission heating system.
- The capital costs are reasonable.
- The installation process is fairly simple.
- It is a high-efficiency heating system.
- They have low running costs, which translates to lower energy bills.
- You may be eligible for the heat pump grant.
Are there any drawbacks to this heating system?
As with anything, there are always some disadvantages, and heat pumps are no exception. Some of the most notable drawbacks include:
- Condensed air can produce water that freezes at low temperatures, which will interrupt your heat flow.
- The outdoor fan can be disruptive.
- They have a lower maximum water temperature than with a gas boiler.
That being said, many of the above can be prevented. By ensuring that you have your heat pump installed properly by a professional and taking proper care of your pump, you should not encounter these issues.
Do air source heat pumps work as well as a gas boiler?
When installed properly, an ASHP system can keep your home warm on even the coldest of days. They typically operate at 55°C rather than the 60-80°C that gas boilers work at, which is why they need bigger radiators.
These types of heating systems work particularly well with underfloor heating and are designed to keep indoor temperatures at a steady level.
How much does an air source heat pump cost?
The price of a new air-source heat pump can vary from £1,500 to £18,000 depending on the type of pump you choose, how big it is, and what brand you select.
In relation to the different types of heat pumps, an air to water heat pump can be significantly more expensive than an air to air heat pump. However, remember that the former can be used to create both space and water heating.
You also need to factor in the cost of installation and any home altering costs that you may need to make to accommodate your heat pump.
How much does it cost to install an air source heat pump?
Again, the cost of installing an air source heat pump varies and will be dependent on your current heating system. For example, if you need auxiliary work carried out, such as new radiators or underfloor heating, the costs involved will be higher.
When you are given a quote, make sure that everything is included so that you know how much capital you will need. However, as air source heat pumps are fairly straightforward to install, they are very popular in the retrofit market, so you can reduce the overall cost.
How much does it cost to run an air source heat pump?
There are a number of different factors that affect how much it costs to run an air source heat pump. These include:
- The size of your heating system
- The efficiency of your heating system
- The outside temperature
- Your overall energy expenditure
- How well insulated your home is
- Your RHI tariffs
In terms of the system itself, the size and efficiency of your pump will massively affect the cost of running it. As you would expect, the bigger the pump, the more it will cost to run.
Air source heating pumps are more efficient in warmer climates, so the further north you live in the UK, the more you can expect to have to pay. That being said, they typically only start to underperform when the outside temperature falls below 0°C, so most of the year, it should run efficiently.
To get the most out of your heat pump system, make sure that your home is fully insulated.
How does a heat pump differ from a gas boiler?
The main difference between a heat pump and a traditional gas boiler is that, with the former, you do not get an immediate heat boost. This means if you suddenly feel cold or you have been out all day, you cannot fire up your boiler and experience instant heat. This is because a heat pump heats water in the radiators to a lower temperature than a gas boiler, so it warms up a space more slowly.
However, the reason why heat pumps are a better way to heat your home lies in the fact that the system works out the most efficient way to keep your home at the temperature you want and then simply gets on with it.
You can program in changes such as when you are away on holiday and when you are returning so that your house will be nice and warm for you upon your return.
Why are gas boilers bad for the environment?
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that gas boilers should be banned by 2025 to aid the fight against climate change. So, why are gas boilers so bad?
Most notably, the process of making gas releases carbon admissions which contribute to global warming. In fact, according to the IEA, 20% of total carbon dioxide admissions in the UK and the United States are from heating homes with oil or gas.
While some homes in the UK currently run on electricity only, heat pumps can offer a more long-term, cost-effective solution that will save households money on their energy bills.
What is the heat pump grant?
The government has announced that it will be giving households grants of £5,000 to help them install air source heat pumps, with the total money allocated enough to cover 90,000 homes in the UK.
There will also be grants of up to £6,000 available for ground source heat pumps.
These grants will be available from April 2022, and the scheme will run for three years. It is predicted that the scheme will be oversubscribed, so households who fulfil the criteria the quickest will receive the grants.
Ministers have said that these grants will make heat pumps cost a similar amount to gas boilers and aim for no new gas boilers to be sold after 2035.
Why is the heat pump grant needed?
The heat pump grant is part of a wider plan to reduce heating-based carbon emissions across the UK. Furthermore, it aims to reduce households’ direct reliance on gas due to skyrocketing prices in the last six months.
The government hopes to install 600,000 heat pumps each year between now and 2028, which will help to support 240,000 UK jobs in green industries by 2035.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “As the technology improves and cost plummet over the next decade, we expect low carbon heating systems will become the obvious, affordable choice for consumers. Through our new grant scheme, we will ensure people are able to choose a more efficient alternative in the meantime.”
Who is eligible for the grant?
Most homeowners, public landlords, and private landlords in England and Wales will be able to participate in this scheme. Unfortunately, the grant will not be available to those in social housing or new-build properties when the scheme is launched.
Northern Ireland has a different energy system, and Scotland is not a part of this scheme.
How to apply for the heat pump grant
The government is encouraging everyone who needs to replace their boiler to make the switch and apply for heat pump funding. Once the grant scheme has been launched, it is expected that households will not need to apply for the grant directly. Instead, they will need to engage with a heat pump installer who will apply to the energy regulator Ofgem for the grant on their behalf.
Once your application has been approved, you will be issued a voucher confirming your grant amount. After the work has been carried out, your installer will generate a microgeneration certificate that confirms your eligibility for the grant which is submitted to Ofgem. Ofgem will then pay the grant directly to your installer, and you will be billed for the remaining amount.
There are currently no requirements for people with working boilers to make the switch.
Will every household get the full £5,000?
The majority of households (up to the 30,000/year cap) that join the scheme will receive the full £5,000 grant. Houses that need heat pumps where heat is sourced from the ground, however, will receive £6,000 as these are more expensive.
This money is designed to help cover the cost of the pump itself, the installation process, and any changes that need to be made to the home, such as the installation of new radiators or underfloor heating.
However, as mentioned earlier, you will be required to pay any shortfall on the total bill.
How much money can I save when I install a heat pump?
As well as saving energy, an air source heat pump can also save you money. In fact, due to its energy efficiency, you could save up to £1,335.
Let’s take a much closer look at what makes an air source heat pump so much more efficient than a traditional gas boiler.
The efficiency of an air source heat pump is measured by Coefficient of Performance (COP), which refers to the maximum efficiency that the heat pump can run. The majority of air source heat pumps have a COP of between two to four, but you can find some that are as high as five. An air-source heat pump with a COP of 4 will produce 4 kilowatts of heat. This means that this heat pump will provide you with four times more heat than if you used electricity.
The efficiency of your air source heat pump is also dependent on the outside temperature. For example, if the temperature outside is around 7°C, the average heat pump will have a COP of 3.2. To put this into perspective, the average temperature in the UK is between 5-8°C, which means that an air source pump will typically perform well for your home throughout the year.
As well as the efficiency of your air source heat pump, there are also two other factors that affect the running costs of this heating system: the amount of heat needed to heat your home and the temperature your source of energy can generate.
If you are currently using electric storage heaters to heat your home, you could save up to £970 on your annual fuel bill when you replace your old electric storage with a new air-source heat pump.
If you are currently using an old oil or gas boiler to heat your home, you could also make significant savings. By replacing an old gas boiler (G-rated) with a heat pump, you could save £255 on your annual energy bill. By switching from an old oil boiler (G-rated), you could save up to £365 per year on your fuel bill.
For those with an old LPG boiler (G-rated), you could find yourself saving a colossal £1250 on your annual fuel bill.
What changes may you need to make to your home?
If you want to switch to an air source heat pump system, you may need to make certain changes to your home and current heating sources to accommodate it.
For example, because radiators that run on heat pumps operate at a lower temperature than those that run on gas, if your radiators are old or only single panelled, you may need to invest in newer, bigger ones.
If you have enough in your budget, underfloor heating is also a great option for heat pumps, although it is by no means essential.
Heat pump energy labels explained
Every air source heat pump must have an energy label on it. This states how energy efficient the pump is on a scale from dark green (the most efficient) to red (the least efficient).
Since September 2015, all new heat pumps must be sold with an EU product label. Your chosen ASHP installer should also produce a package label that displays the efficiency of your pump based on several different components within the heating system.
All heating pumps that are certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme are legally required to be sold with a product label. If your heat pump does not have a package label, it may not be eligible for the heat pump grant.
Can I change my mind about installing a heat pump?
Once you have signed a heat pump contract, you will have 14 days to cancel if you change your mind. You can also cancel at any point before signing the contract if the costs become prohibitive or you simply change your mind.
How to prepare your home for an air source heat pump?
If you decide to switch to an air source heat pump, you will need to get your home ready for installation. There are several ways that you can make your home more suitable for a heat pump, including:
- Make sure there is sufficient space
Unlike a gas boiler, a heat pump requires outside space. It can either be placed on the wall or on the ground. However, it needs to have enough space around it in order to create a good airflow. Ideally, you want to place your heat pump in a sunny spot.
- Ensure you have sufficient insulation
As mentioned earlier, an air source heat pump works best in homes that are fully insulated. Therefore, before you invest in a certain type of heating system, you first need to make sure you add proper insulation to your home and draught-proof your property.
- Think about your current heating system
If you currently use electricity or coal to fuel your heating system, an air source heat pump will pay for itself much quicker. You need to consider what type of heating pump you would benefit from. For example, air to water heating pumps work very well with underfloor heating.
- Consider other green solutions
Finally, you may want to think about what other improvements you could make to your home to make your ASHP perform better. For example, you could install solar panels on your roof to power your air source heating pump and reduce your carbon footprint even more.
How to choose an ASHP installer?
If you want to get the most out of your air source heating pump system, you need to make sure that it is installed correctly. However, how do you go about choosing the right installer?
Fortunately, if you don’t know where to start when it comes to finding a reputable and experienced ASHP installer, we have created the ultimate checklist for you.
Is the company MCS registered?
Is the company properly insured?
How long has the company been in business?
How many ASHP systems have they installed?
What accreditations do they have?
Do the products they use have good online reviews?
What is their workmanship warranty?
Do they use sub-contractors?
Are you under pressure to make a purchase?
What is your gut feeling?
By considering all of the above questions, you should be able to make an informed decision about which ASHP installer to use for your new heating system.
Still not sure which installer to choose? Let us help you make the right choice for your home.
Here at Green Power Technology, we are able to source and recommend the best heat pump installers in the UK, giving you peace of mind that your investment is protected. We can even get a quotation on your behalf, so you barely have to lift a finger.
Get in touch with our friendly and experienced team today, or apply for a quote via our website and get started on your journey to a greener, more cost-efficient home.
Do you have to get rid of your gas boiler?
Due to public outcry, the government has scrapped plans to force Brits to get rid of gas boilers. Instead, the target will be for all “new heating systems” in UK homes to move away from gas boilers by 2025.
This will mean households will be either using air source heating pumps or new technologies in heating systems such as hydrogen-ready boilers.
What is the RHI Scheme?
You may already be aware of a government scheme that gives grants for heating pumps, known as the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This incentive involves you receiving money towards renewable heating costs in your home, including:
- Biomass boilers
- Solar water heating
- Certain heating pumps
The payments in question are made for seven years and are based on the amount of renewable heat made by your heating system. Specifically looking at heating pumps, air-source heat pumps, and ground source heat pumps are all eligible to receive Renewable Heat Incentive payments.
The long-term goal of this scheme is much the same as the air source heat pump grant – to reduce greenhouse emissions and take climate change seriously. However, the difference between the RHI incentive and the heat pump grant is the way that you receive your incentive.
The former pays you money quarterly over a set number of years which is designed to offset the cost of installing and running your new heating system, whereas the latter involves a single payment at the point of completion of the installation of your new system.
However, the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive will be closed to new applicants on 31st March 2022.
Which energy suppliers are the greenest?
If you are not eligible for the new heat pump grant or you have only recently invested in a new gas boiler, there are still ways that you can do your bit for the environment.
One of which is by switching to a greener energy supplier. According to Which?, the top green energy suppliers in the UK are Good Energy, GEUK, and Ecotricity.
The above energy suppliers all source their energy from renewable sources, so by simply switching to one of them, you can make your contribution to the government’s fight against climate change.
How to make your home more energy-efficient
As well as switching to an air source heat pump system, there are many other changes that you can make to your home to make it more energy-efficient. Some of which can be carried out on a budget.
1. Insulate your roof
You probably already know that you lose heat from your head, and the same goes for your house. This means if your roof is not properly insulated, it could be costing you hundreds of pounds each year.
Fortunately, it is relatively cheap to insulate your roof, with the price of loft insulation for an average semi-detached house being only £300. To put that into perspective, you could save as much as £750 on your annual heating bills over a period of five years.
2. Insulate your walls
Whether you have solid walls or cavity walls, you can help to retain heat in your home by adding insulation. In fact, with as much as one-third of the heat loss in most homes in the UK going out the walls, you can save big when you choose to insulate your walls.
Again, you can expect to recoup any initial outlay within five years of adding insulation to your walls.
3. Draught-proof your windows
Arguably the simplest way to make your home more energy-efficient is by draught-proofing your windows. You can save up to £160 a year on heating and a whopping 80kg of carbon.
Plus, you will experience less noise disruption in your home.
4. Install solar panels
A more expensive option but a highly efficient one, by installing solar panels in your home, you can expect to save around £300 in the first year alone. Furthermore, the cost of solar panels has plummeted in recent years, costing around 70% less now than when they were first introduced.
Alternatively, you could opt for solar roof tiles that are just as effective but widely considered to be more aesthetically pleasing than traditional solar panels.
5. Make small changes
If you are looking to make small changes to your home that all add up, then the below tips should help you to become a more energy-efficient household:
- Switch to a water-saving showerhead.
- Bleed your radiators once a year.
- Turn down the thermostat by one or two degrees.
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Do not leave your appliances and devices on stand-by.
Heat pump FAQs
Do I have to service my heat pump?
In the same way that you need to service your gas boiler to keep it working efficiently and ensure its longevity, you also need to service your air source heat pump. Make sure that you enlist the services of a qualified heat pump engineer so that you can get a high-quality service.
What is the difference between a ground source heat pump and an air source heat pump?
The main difference between a ground source heat pump and an air source one is where they generate their heat from. Air source heat pumps generate heat from the air, whereas ground source heat pumps absorb heat from the ground.
Is an air source heat pump easy to use?
Yes, they are. An air-source heat pump works much the same way as a traditional boiler. Your ASHP installer will set up your new heating system for you so that it works to suit your specific needs.
As a rule, heat pumps work best if they are left on a low, comfortable setting all day. The system will heat up in the morning so it is warm when you get up and heat up again in the evening when you return home. You can also adjust the heat throughout the day using the heating controls.
Will an air source heat pump keep my house warm in winter?
Yes, it will. Air source pump heaters are able to produce heating even when it is freezing outside. This is because they have been specifically designed using the latest sustainable technologies to run at a more efficient temperature than a gas or oil boiler.
Will an open air source heat pump system heat my hot water too?
If you choose an air to water heat pump, this system can heat the space in your home and your water. This type of heat pump contains a hot water cylinder that heats and stores your water ready for when you need it. The cylinder is insulated so that once the water is heated, it remains hot for several hours, so you will always have hot water to wash your dishes or take a shower.
Do I need to insulate my home before installing a heat pump?
While you are not obliged to insulate your home before you switch to an air source heat pump, this is highly recommended. This is because insulation can dramatically reduce your energy consumption and heat loss within your home.
We recommend that you invest in both wall and roof insulation for optimum results.
How long does it take to install a heat pump?
Typically, a heat pump can be fitted within three days. This includes the installation of the outdoor unit and an indoor one in place of your current heating system.
How long will a heat pump last?
The average lifespan of a heat pump is between 15-20 years. This is if your heat pump is carefully monitored and receives regular servicing.
How often should I clean my heat pump?
If you want your heat pump to perform at its best, you should clean it frequently. Make sure that you remove any dust, leaves, or other debris that could stop the pump from working and that you clean all the components once every two weeks.
How much space do I need to install a ground source heat pump?
You need enough space to be able to bury the pipes of your ground source heat pump. Typically, this hole needs to be a minimum of 120mm large and at least 60m deep.