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Is My Home Suitable For A Heat Pump?

Is My Home Suitable For A Heat Pump?

Domestic heating in the UK is currently undergoing a huge transformation, as households gradually swap fossil fuel powered boilers for eco-friendly alternatives.

In a bid to speed up this transition to greener heating by cutting air source heat pump costs, the UK government had introduced the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

From April 2022, this initiative has provided homeowners in England and Wales with £5,000 to help cover the cost of a new air source heat pump and £6,000 for a new ground source heat pump. This Scheme has very recently been extended until 2028 giving you an even bigger chance to get involved with this amazing deal.

However, despite this recent push for heat pumps, some buildings in the UK aren’t actually suitable for them. And heat pumps in the wrong property could actually end up costing homeowners more money on their energy bills.

Worried your home will come under this bracket? Scroll down to find out which types of properties aren’t compatible with heat pumps.

What Is A Heat Pump?

Are you part of the majority of UK residents who aren’t familiar with heat pumps? Let us explain quickly. A heat pump does what it says on the tin, it literally pumps heat into your home from the air outside, the ground, or a nearby water source.

There are two types of heat pumps: air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps, which effectively do the same thing, but in different ways.

  • Air source heat pumps take heat from the air outside and use it to warm buildings and hot water systems.
  • Ground source heat pumps need to be connected to underground pipes, which absorb the Earth’s geothermal energy.

What Is The Ideal Property For A Heat Pump?

Is my home suitable for a heat pump? Technically, a heat pump could be installed in most homes in the UK, but it won’t necessarily run efficiently in all of them.

To get the most out of your heat pumps, you’ll need a property with:

  • Proper insulation: In order to get the very best out of a heat pump, it’s important that your home can retain heat well. A heat pump will work most efficiently when it isn’t constantly working overtime to keep heat levels high. They are much less effective in a house that is letting heat escape.
  • Underfloor heating or large radiators: As a general rule, these will be two-and-a-half times larger than normal radiators to provide the same heat output.
  • Exterior space for the heat pump: A garden, patio, alley, or spacious balcony will do.
  • Interior space for the hot water cylinder: A typical domestic household will need a 35 to 45-litre cylinder.

Want to get a better idea of the sort of things you will need space for? Checkout the images below!

Which Properties Aren’t (Usually) Suitable For A Heat Pump?

Although the government is pushing for heat pumps to become more commonplace, even aiming for all new heating systems installed from 2035 to be low carbon, currently, 54% of UK homes aren’t suitable for them.

There are a few key property features that can make heat pumps less efficient, which we’ve listed below.

If your house comes under any of these brackets, it’s probably best to consider improving your property but only if it’s feasible and affordable, as this will allow you to get a heat pump and stop relying on gas in the long run.


Poor insulation.

Properties with a low EPC rating will not be able to lock in the warmth that heat pumps create, meaning they’ll be pretty useless. And, since 59% of homes in England and Wales have a D, E, F, or G rating on their EPC, over half of the homes in these countries might not be suitable for heat pumps.

Insulation is also needed for traditional boilers, but you’re likely to feel the effects of poor insulation more with heat pumps, since they tend to produce comparatively lower heat, usually at around 35 – 40°C compared to a gas boiler’s average 60°C. This means they channel heat slowly, over longer periods of time. Check out our other comparisons between air source heat pumps and gas boilers!

So if your home is properly insulated, it will be able to retain heat and you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of a cheaper renewable heating source. With poor insulation, however, you could find yourself reaching for the thermostat more, which will probably increase your bills.


Old buildings.

There are plenty of pros and cons of heat pumps, but one of the main drawbacks is that they aren’t suitable for old buildings, which make up a large percentage of the UK’s housing stock.

There are a handful of reasons why older buildings might not be suitable for heat pumps. For starters, some older or listed buildings have rules and regulations on what you can and can’t change about their appearance. Basically, a heat pump might not meet those set aesthetic standards.

Homeowners in listed buildings also aren’t allowed to alter the foundations of the property, which will prove problematic when trying to install the necessary pipework, especially for a ground source heat pump!

However, one way you could overcome this issue is by getting a heat pump cover, which essentially makes the outside unit much prettier whilst also protecting it against the weather and other outdoor variables.

On top of this, homes built before the 1920s typically have solid walls, which can be harder to insulate than cavity walls and without good insulation, heat pumps just won’t work as efficiently.


Limited space outside.

We won’t beat around the bush, a heat pump is a pretty hefty piece of kit, with sizes currently ranging from 6kW to 15kW for the average domestic property. Overall, the size of the heat pump you’ll need for your home will depend on:

  • Type/size of property
  • Level of insulation/heat loss
  • Size of radiators or underfloor heating
  • Desired indoor temperature
  • Seasonal outdoor temperatures in your area

Typically, both air source and ground source heat pumps are installed on the outside of an external wall, with the unit either being placed on the ground or mounted onto the wall. Either way, it’ll need a lot of room, with no obstructions, to get maximum airflow.

It’s also important to bear in mind that the installation must be at least a metre from the boundary of your property.


No underfloor heating or large radiators.

Since heat pumps take longer to warm up than traditional boilers, they need to utilise a larger surface area in order to reach the same temperature level. This means that if you have heat pumps, you’ll also have an underfloor heating system or larger radiators.

So, if you have a property with limited space, heat pumps might not be a viable option for you. Of course, you can always install underfloor heating, but this can be fairly costly on top of the heat pump costs.


High-rise buildings.

This one’s circumstantial. In some cases, high-rise buildings can actually have heat pumps, but this setup can come with complications.

If there’s no space to pop a heat pump outside each property in high-rise buildings, air source heat pumps will be off the table for residents. However, if the properties have a balcony – preferably a spacious one, the outdoor unit can be mounted on a façade.

If there’s space outside the high-rise building, properties could benefit from a ground source heat pump. It can be put nearby the building, with pipes running through the properties.

But this setup can end up being pretty pricey, since a lot of work needs to be done to the whole building for it to work. Not only does the heat pump need to be installed outside, but the pipes also need to go through several stories of the building to reach different properties.

Next Steps.

Heat pumps are certainly becoming more popular in the UK, thanks to the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

However, if your home isn’t suitable for heat pumps, don’t worry, there are other options out there. You can still reduce your emissions around the home by installing another green heating system.

If you’re not ready to commit to that just yet, you can always try out some energy saving tips. Get in touch with the Heat From Air team to find plenty of tips and tricks on how to be more eco-friendly at home – saving you money and helping out the planet. It’s a win-win!

Want to start cutting your emissions as soon as possible? Our team can provide you with quotes to compare the best prices and all you have to do is get in touch with us, and you can get a head start on the UK’s heat pump revolution.

After all, Your Green Future Starts Here!

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