January 2024 -
Written by Jo Alsop
2024 is the year of the heat pump

Find your heat pump, get a top installer and calculate your savings.

2024 is the year of the heat pump because installation costs are falling and the technology is better than ever for UK homes. If you own your home then you have an 80% likelihood of being able to get a heat pump and start enjoying real benefits. This guide will help you know if you’re heat pump ready, pick the right heat pump and installer and calculate your savings.

In this guide

  1. Know if you're heat pump ready
  2. Find the right heat pump
  3. Find the right installer
  4. Costs and savings
  5. Ready to fit a heat pump, what's next?

1) Know now if you’re heat pump ready

Once regarded as only being suitable for new-build homes, heat pumps have come on leaps and bounds to bring them closer to gas boilers, and manufacturers have adapted the equipment to better suit UK homes. If you are a homeowner and have a garden, a heat pump will do a great job of providing all of your heating and hot water and most people report feeling more comfortable.

High temperatures are a standard feature on modern heat pumps

Heat pumps today can run up to the same temperatures as a gas or oil boiler which means changing radiators is no longer a necessity, but often swapping just a few radiators will lower running costs.

Older homes without additional insulation will need to swap more radiators to achieve a better efficiency. If you decide to change radiators, it is usually not that disruptive and it's a good opportunity to flush the system to get everything running optimally.

The outside unit has had a makeover

The outside unit can look a lot like an air-conditioning unit, and historically people have found them ugly, but they are now available in attractive black and grey colours and can be fenced off. They can also go up on a wall, on a flat roof or down the garden - there are pros and cons to each location.

Heat pumps are quiet

Noise has been a long standing concern for households who naturally don’t want a machine whirring in their back garden. Thankfully heat pumps are ever quieter, with manufacturers adding more sound buffering to the inside of the unit. Guidance today reports they are no noisier than a fridge from five metres away. Bear in mind also that they won’t be operating in the summer when you are more likely to be using the garden.

Internal equipment is more compact

There is no getting away from having to give up a bit more space internally. Around 70% of gas homes have a combi boiler, so finding space for the cylinder is often the most painful part. But manufacturers have got much better at working around UK homes.

‘Monobloc’ heat pumps contain more of the heat pump equipment in the outside ‘air-conditioning’ unit and only the cylinder goes inside. If you’re really tight on space for a cylinder, a ‘heat battery’ cylinder (which is actually a square shape) are compact alternatives that can fit in tight spots (e.g. under the stairs or a worktop) and still supply up to 300 litres of hot water (enough for a 5-bed home).

What to do if you have more inside space than outside space

For those with more space inside than outside, you can opt for what is called a ‘split system’, which combines a smaller outside unit and either a fridge-freezer-sized inside unit with an integral hot water cylinder or a boiler-sized wall hung unit with a separate hot water cylinder. The wall hung unit option is particularly useful if households need a very large cylinder (or heat battery cylinder). Finding the heat pump that best slots into your home is vital and we cover more on this below.

If you live in a flat without a garden or rent your home, don’t despair. We can help you reduce your gas use and suggest other ways to go greener.

2) Find the right heat pump

No two heat pumps are the same. They all do the same things of course, which is to convert heat in the air to power your radiators and cut your energy demand by 70-80%. But they come in different shapes and sizes and it's important to find a configuration that works around you.

The outside unit dimensions vary from 0.7m - 1.3m wide and 0.7m - 1.4m high (depending on the size of your home). This provides lots of flexibility for finding the right heat pump for your home. For example, you might need a low, wide unit to fit under a window such as the Daikin Altherma Monobloc or a tall, slimmer unit to slot into a tight alcove such as the Mitsubishi Ecodan.

The output of your heat pump (in kW) has some influence on the physical size of the outside unit. As a general rule, larger kW output heat pumps will be physically bigger. This is certainly the case for the larger Vaillant aroTHERM and Viessmann 150/151 heat pump models. However some manufacturers have managed to combine larger kW outputs with smaller units, such as Samsung’s HT Quiet.

3) Finding the right installer

Finding the right installer makes a world of difference to your experience, both during and after the installation.

Just as with boilers, you can opt for a local installer or go with a national operator. Big companies such as Octopus and Aira will be the ‘British Gas’ for heat pumps. They offer slick customer experiences and are driving down prices, but they tend to focus on ‘low-hanging fruit’ customers, i.e. those properties that are already heat-pump-ready. This is creating unrealistic expectations around savings and installation costs for households that fall outside that profile.

For commercial and technical reasons, it is not uncommon for an installer to stick with one heat pump manufacturer. This can be hugely frustrating for consumers, because it means you get the closest suitable heat pump from their range and not the most suitable option for your home.

Picking a great installer is about finding someone working in your interests to fit the right model configuration for you. It is also about finding someone who understands that while heat pumps can run at higher temperatures, they still need to be set up very differently to gas boilers. Installer competency, rather than heat pump build quality has the greatest impact on performance and will be the difference between high and low fuel bills.

Warmur hand-picks our invite-only installer network based on their ability to deliver on performance and take on all types of property. Find out more about our services.

4) Costs and savings

Did you know that you can cut your energy bills in half when you combine a heat pump with solar panels PV and time-of-use tariffs? One of the first things we did as a company is create a unique calculator for households to understand which combination of renewable measures delivers the biggest savings. But before we get carried away with that, let’s return to the topic at hand.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you a heat pump will be free…

More than one company has advertised a heat pump installation for £500 or even for free. Let’s be upfront about cost because there is no point starting the process if the only reason you’d consider a heat pump is if it costs £500 or less.

Prices typically range between £2,500 - £7,500 (after the £7,500 Government grant) depending on the size of your home and how many radiators you choose to change. New gas boilers costs are between £2,500 - £4,500 and up to £6,000 with a new hot water cylinder. A new oil boiler is more like £4,000 - £6,000 and if you need to change your oil tank at the same time then you will probably find that a heat pump is cheaper!

Some households qualify for ECO4 support, which is £10,000 of grant funding for a heat pump plus funding for insulation measures. Households need to be claiming qualifying benefits or have a qualifying medical condition. While it might be free, still exercise caution and make sure you get a good heat pump and a good installer.

How much will I save?

Before we venture into the topic of savings, it is important to note that the savings available when fitting a new gas boiler is for most people £0 and certainly less than £100. A new boiler is never going to pay for itself in its lifetime and the same is largely true for heat pumps.

An average-efficiency heat pump will cost about the same as a gas boiler to run. A higher efficiency heat pump (in a more insulated home or where radiators have been replaced) will cost slightly less to run. The average house can expect to save £284 per year when combined with smart tariffs and with the gas meter removed. Savings are much greater for oil or LPG households, as the cost of oil tends to be higher.

Halve your energy bills with a heat pump when…

…you combine solar PV, battery and off-peak tariffs. Where households can half their energy costs is by combining a heat pump with solar PV panels and selecting time of use electricity tariffs. An all-electric home means that you can use more of the solar PV energy to run your heat pump and qualify for lower priced heat pump tariffs.

Our free independent calculator will estimate the size of heat pump you need and what configuration of solar, battery and time of use tariff will net you the biggest energy savings.

If you’re not ready to do it all in one go, don’t worry, you can stage the works. Fitting a heat pump is the single biggest thing you can do to reduce your carbon emissions, so it's a great place to start.

We're launching a free online calculator soon where you can get a personalised report on which technologies work for you and how much you could save.

5) Ready to fit a heat pump, what's next?

20% of new car sales are electric vehicles and this is a trend that will extend to our homes. We must replace our fossil fuel boilers with clean running heat pumps - it is the future of home heating.

For many it feels like a big leap because we’re still fitting heat pumps in small numbers, but installations are on the rise and we’re edging towards a greater familiarity and confidence with the technology. It is early days, but get the right heat pump and the right installer and you absolutely won’t look back. So if you feel ready, here’s some things to know and what to do next.

MCS certification

Installers must be MCS certified for households to claim the £7,500 grant and benefit from the strong consumer protections if something goes wrong. Some installers are certified in their own right and others use an MCS certified ‘umbrella’ company. Whoever holds the MCS certification will be contractually responsible for the design, installation and performance of your installation.

What MCS doesn’t do is guarantee technical competence. We spend a lot of time helping households put right poor performing installations fitted by MCS companies. We set up our installer network to help households find top installers who can deliver on performance and great customer service.

Getting a quote

The success of any heat pump installation starts with a thorough understanding of your home. At some point, someone will have to undertake a ‘heat loss’ calculation. This reveals what size heat pump you need (i.e. kW output) and which radiators you would benefit from replacing.

Some installers will estimate what size heat pump you need when they initially quote, while others will charge you to carry out a full ‘room-by-room’ calculation in your home. A room-by-room calculation is a mandatory requirement so whether it's done at the outset or later, there is nearly always a cost.

A standalone room-by-room heat loss calculation doesn’t and it doesn’t offer impartial advice about your options. We developed our Heat Pump Passport service to get you bespoke and broad-ranging advice on what to do in your home.

Get a Heat Pump Passport

Our heat pump passport service combines deep knowledge of your home with your bespoke requirements to provide an accurate, personalised and actionable upgrade plan, that is not just limited to heat pumps.

We visit your home and build an exact virtual replica (‘digital twin’) of inside and outside your property to understand exactly where you are today. We then run hundreds of scenarios to find the best combination of green upgrades for your budget.

Ask us anything!

One of our experts will speak to you about the results and help you understand all the practicalities of installing renewable technologies. We help you narrow down the recommendations based on your requirements. Unlike other providers, we will review gas and oil boilers alongside your heat pump potential and help with next-best-actions if a heat pump is right for you.

We compile a report that includes access to the digital twin, floor plans, radiator schedule and heat loss calculation, alongside our tailored advice.

Contact us to find out more about our 1-2-1 services

Not feeling confident to make the leap? Totally understand that. One of the next best actions you can take is to keep your existing gas boiler going until you are ready. Read our insider-guide: Five ways to make the most of your gas boiler.

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