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4 Jan 2024

Turning up the temperature: what do hotter heat pumps mean for UK homeowners?

Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist

The introduction of a new refrigerant — R290  — will allow new heat pumps to increase in temperature, transferring more heat into your property.

The UK's heat pump market is witnessing a significant transformation — and you’re here to experience it. New heat pumps, equipped with advanced technology, are making waves and changing perceptions.

Heat pump evolution in action

15 years ago, the heat pumps available in the market struggled to reach 50℃ — primarily due to the technology and refrigerants used at the time. Traditional heat pump models work by extracting heat from the air or ground and using a refrigerant to transfer this heat inside. However, the efficiency of these pumps decreased significantly in colder temperatures, making it challenging to achieve higher temperatures.

Fast forward to today, and there's now a notable shift. Newer models of heat pump that are capable of exceeding 70℃ are becoming increasingly popular thanks to recent developments over the last few years. 

This significant improvement is largely attributed to advancements in refrigerant technology, particularly the introduction of R290 (propane). 

The power of the R290 refrigerant

R290 is not only more efficient at capturing and transferring heat but also more environmentally friendly, allowing these modern heat pumps to operate effectively even in colder climates and reach higher temperatures than the more traditional models.

This advancement marks a substantial leap in heat pump technology, offering greater efficiency and adaptability for various home heating needs.

Breaking barriers

The newer and hotter heat pumps, with their ability to supply higher temperatures, are dispelling the "temperature anxiety" associated with older models. 

Specifically, it relates to doubts about whether these heat pumps can reach and maintain high enough temperatures, especially in colder climates, to comfortably heat a property. With newer technologies, such as improved heat pumps capable of higher temperatures, this "temperature anxiety" is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Companies like Octopus Energy and Vaillant are at the forefront of this development, offering products like the Cosy 6 and aroTHERM plus, capable of heating water to 80C and 75C respectively.

Are there any challenges on the horizon?

Despite the benefits of these new and improved heat pumps, there's still reluctance among UK homeowners to embrace this staggering development. 

Misconceptions about their effectiveness and the UK's poor home insulation standards are challenges. Yet, the potential for change is immense, with firms like Vattenfall and Daikin introducing pumps that can reach up to 85C using different refrigerants like R744 (CO2) and R32.

A brighter and warmer future 

Independent tests by Energy Systems Catapult have shown that these new UK heat pumps, particularly air source heat pumps using R290, are significantly more efficient than their predecessors. Real-world testing also suggests that heat pumps are three times as efficient as gas boilers.

In fact, users are already experiencing the benefits of a more evenly heated home and higher system efficiency.

Despite these advancements, the UK lags in heat pump adoption, ranking 20th out of 21 European nations. However, with the increasing range of options and improved technology, the future looks promising for a shift towards more sustainable heating solutions.

Compare heat pump options with SpotDif

If you're considering upgrading to a new heat pump, why not explore your options with SpotDif? We provide an easy-to-use platform so you can compare the prices, quotes, and specifications of various heat pumps — including air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, and hybrid options. 

Use our heat pump price comparison tool to find the perfect fit for your home and join the sustainable heating revolution today.

Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist
Combining in-depth research with an interest in all things home improvement, I aim to keep SpotDif readers up to date with interior design trends, renewable energy options, and more.
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