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What's In This Guide

Thinking about getting a heat pump?

Heat pumps are in the news as an energy-saving and sustainable way of heating your home. But is upgrading your heating system to an air pump worth it? At SpotDif, we’ll do a heat pump comparison and give you everything you need to make an informed decision and help you find the best heat pump and installation deals. 


So is a heat pump right for your home? Heat pumps work by harnessing thermal energy from the ground or air. They don't burn fossil fuels to generate heat and need only a tiny amount of electricity to power a conventional central heating system or underfloor heating.


There are plenty of myths about heat pumps - that they’re noisy or don’t work efficiently in freezing temperatures. As heat pump technology improves, this sustainable way to heat our homes becomes increasingly silent and energy-efficient. 


In fact, heat pumps can last twice as long as boilers due to their twenty-year lifespan. And they’re the most popular form of heating in Norway, where they’re used to tackling temperatures below -20C.


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Why get a heat pump?

For homeowners who are wondering how good are heat pumps, the most attractive reason to install heat pumps instead of conventional boilers is their efficiency. Measured on the Coefficient of Performance scale (CoP), some heat pumps can generate three times more electricity than they consume, giving them a CoP of 3.0.


To measure the CoP of a heat pump, the heat output is divided by the electrical input. So if your heat pump uses 3kW energy to generate 12kW of heat, the CoP is 4.0, better than any other form of heating. In fact, heat pumps can achieve an efficiency of 300-400%, so if you're replacing an outdated gas boiler, it's an obvious choice. Use our handy search tool to do a heat pump comparison and find the best deals on highly efficient heat pumps in your area.


And heat pumps come with other benefits. If you're off the grid, there's no need for an oil or gas storage tank. They're an emissions-free way of heating your home. And they're one way to dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. You can even control your home heating using smart home accessories.


Factor in the long service life and low maintenance costs, and a heat pump is an excellent investment to reduce your bills and make the most of green energy. Government grants for installing an air source heat pump are available, and you'll find all the up-to-date information you need when you compare deals at SpotDif.


Where to start?

We recommend contacting a qualified heating engineer before deciding on a change to your heating system. They'll conduct a survey, do a heat pump comparison and create a heat pump solution based on factors like the size and age of your home and the preparation work that needs to be done. They'll also recommend either an air source heat, drawing thermal energy from the air or a ground source heat pump that extracts heat from the ground. 


Find a heating engineer using our handy search tool for the most competitive quotes in your area. Want to learn more about heat pumps so you can do a proper heat pump comparison? Read on for our comprehensive guide.


The SpotDif guide to heat pumps

Before we go on further, let's actually delve into what a heat pump is, how they work, their benefits and drawbacks and what heat pump may be best for your home.

What is a heat pump?

Heat pumps work by capturing thermal energy from the air or the ground. This free energy source is then transformed into energy to heat your home with just a little electricity. But because heat pumps are so efficient, you'll get back three to four times the kilowatts you put in. That means your heat pump is incredibly cost-effective to run and a sustainable way to improve air quality and reduce your carbon footprint.

How does a heat pump work?

With the government announcing plans to phase out new gas boilers by 2035, heat pump technology could be a sustainable and energy-efficient replacement. Heat pumps use the principle of heat exchange to draw warm air from an outside source - the air or the ground. 


There’s always thermal heat, even when the temperature is low, so heat pumps can still keep your home at a comfortable temperature in the winter. However, they may need a little extra electricity to keep you cosy when it’s below freezing outside.

The benefits (and drawbacks) of heat pumps

The government has announced ambitious targets to install 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028 as the UK strives to meet its Net Zero goals. Already widely used in Europe, heat pumps are a super-efficient way of heating and cooling your home with plenty of potential benefits:


  • Environmentally friendly, primarily when used with solar power or green energy tariffs.


  • Low maintenance and extended equipment life of up to 50 years for superior reliability.


  • High-efficiency models that reach up to 400% efficiency to save on your energy bills.


  • Safer than combustion-based systems with no C0 gas leakage.


  • It can heat and cool your home.


  • Grants are available through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.


If you upgrade from a gas boiler, you'll notice higher running costs, at least in the short term. At the same time, the UK is transitioning to cheaper electricity generation, which could bring your running costs down. And the upfront installation costs can put some homeowners off, though generous grants are available.


The bottom line is that if you own a newer property with high insulation levels and underfloor heating, a heat pump will provide comfortable heat levels throughout the day using minimal amounts of electricity.


Which heat pumps may be best for your home?

Before doing a heat pump comparison for your heating and hot water needs, it's worth looking at some factors that could affect your decision. 


The size and age of your property are crucial factors in choosing a heat pump that can adequately heat your home. Remember, an underpowered system will struggle to meet your heat and water needs, while an oversized pump wastes energy.


The level of insulation and the heat loss through doors and windows will impact the type of heat pump you need. 


The climate in your area is another factor to consider, as your running costs may be higher in cooler parts of the UK. 


Available space can also affect your choice of heat pump. Air source systems can be reasonably compact and fit in a side return. In contrast, ground source heat pumps require considerable outdoor space for an underground loop or borehole.


Heat pump warranties are around three years, although you can purchase an extended warranty.


Maintenance requirements are generally minimal for heat pumps, and looking after your heat pump could extend its lifespan to fifty years. 


Government grants for heat pumps are another factor in deciding on the best heat pump installation for your home. Under the government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme, you could get £5,000 off an air source heat pump or £6,000 towards sourcing and installing a ground source heat pump.


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What prices of heat pumps in the UK can I expect?

If you're wondering how much are heat pumps, that depends on the type of heat pump you have. Air source heat pumps can range in price between £5,000-£18,000 fully installed. That rises for a ground source heat pump to £13,000-£49,000, depending on whether you need trenches or a borehole.

What is the life expectancy of your heat pump?

Heat pumps can last 15-25 years, depending on their technology. However, with regular maintenance, your system could last up to 50 years, delivering an excellent return on your investment.

Heat pump maintenance: how to clean your heat pump

A well-maintained heat pump can last anything up to fifty years. But regular cleaning can ensure your heat pump has a twenty-year lifespan. Aim to inspect and clean your system monthly if required, following these simple tips:


  • Interior unit: Use the dust nozzle on your vacuum cleaner to gently remove any dust and debris in the filters and vents, then wipe down the outside of the unit with a soft clean cloth.


  • Exterior unit: Check there's no vegetation growing into the fan unit, then clear away any leaves that may have gotten stuck inside. Also, check for signs of insect infestations that must be dealt with promptly. Finally, look for any signs of corrosion, as these could indicate a problem. Don't worry if there's a small pool of water by the exterior unit, as this is normal. However, contact a heating engineer if you notice water pooling near the interior unit.


  • Run the unit: Now, switch on your heat pump. Listen for any unusual noises or anything out of the ordinary. Contact a heating professional if you suspect your heat pump isn't functioning properly.


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Differences between air source heat pump and ground source heat pump

Of course, not all heat pumps are the same and use different heat sources to power your heating system. So what’s the difference between an air source heat pump and a ground source heat pump?


Air source heat pumps function like a refrigerator in reverse, drawing heat from the air into a refrigerant liquid. A pump then compresses the fluid to increase the temperature and release the stored heat, which is then sent to your heating and hot water system. 


Ground source heat pumps rely on a ground loop filled with water and antifreeze. The pipes are buried underground, and the liquid is pumped through the system to absorb ground heat. It’s then compressed and passes through the heat exchanger, transferring the heat to your home heating.


The significant differences between the two systems are the heat source and the space required. Air source systems can be compact but are less efficient than ground source heat pumps. However, you need plenty of room to install a ground source system, as the more extensive your property, the bigger the loop required.

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Saving energy bills and heat pump choices

The average family uses 12,000 kWh to heat their home annually.


Air source heat pumps


An air source heat pump typically uses 3.5kW of electricity per hour. Look for a heat pump with a COP of 3-4 as this will generate 3-4kW of heat per 1kW used.


Ground source heat pumps 

Ground source heat pumps use between 3-3.5kW with a COP closer to 4, making them an even more efficient choice. To save on heat pump energy bills:


  • Leave the thermostat at the set temperature.


  • Turn down the water heating temperature.


  • Keep the filters and fan clean and free of debris.


  • Buy a heat pump with a high COP.


  • Invest in solar PV panels and a compatible heat pump.



Hybrid heat pump


Minimal changes are required to install a hybrid heat pump.

Do hybrid heat pumps exist?

Yes! Hybrid heat pumps do exist.


If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint but are searching for an alternative to an air source heat pump, a hybrid heat pump system could be the answer. Also known as ‘dual-fuel heat pumps’, hybrid heating systems let you keep your original radiators and enjoy comfortable temperatures all year round.


Want to find the right supplier for an energy-efficient hybrid air source heat pump in your area, or do a heat pump comparison to see which system would suit you best? We've got you covered.

What is the difference between a hybrid heat pump and an air source heat pump?

More of us are adopting air source heat pumps for our central heating — and it’s easy to see why. A heat pump is incredibly energy efficient, requiring 1kW of power to generate four times as much heat.


However, because these pumps draw air from the outside and convert it to heat, they can struggle in freezing temperatures. You might also need to swap out your radiators for ones with a larger surface area. 


A hybrid heat pump system combines your gas or oil boiler with an air source heat pump. So, you benefit from the energy efficiency of a heat pump with a traditional boiler to handle your hot water and top-up heating in icy weather. As a result, you can keep your existing pipework and radiators.


What are the benefits of hybrid heat pumps?  

Here’s how a hybrid heat pump system could benefit you: 

 

  • Reduced running costs 


  • Up to 60% reduction in carbon emissions 


  • Suitable for any home  


  • No need for new pipework or radiators 


  • Year-round reliability 


  • Whisper quiet operation


How much does a hybrid air source heat pump cost? 

So, what does a dual-fuel heat pump cost? For a standalone air source heat pump, you’ll usually pay from £3,000 to £8,000, depending on size.  


You may also be wondering how much it costs to install a hybrid heat pump. As with all home improvements, the installation cost will vary depending on the hybrid heat pump supplier you choose. However, as a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay between £5,000 and £7,000. This covers complete installation, including pipework, insulation and the control unit. 


For the best suppliers for hybrid heat pumps in your local area and to do a proper heat pump comparison, try SpotDif.

Grants for an air source heat pump

The government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme offers significant financial incentives to switch to heat pump heating systems. 


To be eligible, you must:


  • Own the property where the heat pump is installed.


  • Be replacing a fossil fuel boiler.


  • Have a valid EPC with no outstanding recommendations for insulation. 


If you meet the requirements, you could receive a grant of up to: 


  • £5,000 towards the cost of an air source heat pump and installation.


  • £9,000 towards the cost of a ground source heat pump and installation. 

Find the best heat pump suppliers in the UK

Finding the best heat pumps in the UK can be challenging. But you can save time and money by comparing your quotes online. We’ll ask you a few questions and supply the most competitive prices in your area in seconds.


So whether you’re looking for the best air source heat pumps or installation quotes for ground source heat pumps, we’ve got you covered.

Compare heat pump quotes with Spot Dif

Comparing heat pump quotes with us couldn't be easier. Just click the Start Now button and answer a few simple questions. It's quick and straightforward, and we'll compare quotes from a range of suppliers in your area to get you the best deal for your budget.

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Anna Dearden
Home sector specialist
I'm driven by curiosity, and constantly seeking to unravel and explore the ever-evolving trends in the realms of lifestyle, finance, and well-being.
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