Solutions for Sustainable Heating: Navigating Heat Pumps -With too much heat in the summer and not enough in the winter, Sussex Green Living is delighted to showcase Option Energy Solutions who we met at the Amberley Eco-Day last Summer. They won a Highly Commended National award in June 2023 for their Domestic Air Source Heat Pump work, and our author Michael, as an award-winning heat pump installer, is well placed to bring some clarity to the conversation around heat pumps. He tells us:
If you do a search for heat pump installation, sponsored ads from British Gas and Octopus pop up offering heat pumps from £3,000, which is a good rate. However, beware- this will be their ‘headline’ rate, and it probably won’t apply to you, and if it does, the efficiency of the heat pump may be poor.
Regulator MCS specify a minimum efficiency of 280%, but realistically this means that the pump you choose may run at any efficiency from 280% to 500%.
If you have a typical home using 12,000 kWh of heat, then the difference in long term running costs could vary from around £720 to £1285- that’s over £10,000 difference in the 20-year lifespan of a pump!
Other companies place efficiency at the heart of their approach, so although you pay more at the outset, you save money in the long run. One of these organisations is installer network ‘Heat Geek’ who give access to selected local companies. They have an instant price estimate on their website, and you only have to enter your address. This is probably the best price check currently out there. (For full disclosure, Option Energy Solutions is on their map, but that’s genuinely because I believe in their mission, and our awards confirm that thinking!)
In reality, a pump is more likely to cost you 10-15k than 3k, But even if a full heat pump installation doesn’t make financial sense for you right now, there are still steps you can take with your heating. Building Regulations were updated last year so that all new heating systems require radiators effectively to be sized ‘heat pump ready’. Next time you replace a radiator, ask your installer to size it for a 55C flow temperature. Next time you replace a hot water cylinder, ask for a heat pump cylinder.
By chipping away at these items, you are making that £3,000 heat pump installation more achievable, and at a good efficiency too. Getting rid of fossil fuels doesn’t need to be a one-time investment. It’s a goal that we can strive towards step by step over the coming years, and with a comprehensive gas boiler ban planned for 2035, it might be that in 10 years’ time the difference between a house being heat pump ready or not might be akin to a house with or without central heating. And to top it all off, it’s the green choice, and with the increase in renewable power generators like wind farms, it will only get greener.
By Michael Paini, award winning heat pump installer at Option Energy Solutions