Advantages and disadvantages of heat pumps

Awareness of air source heat pumps is increasing as more and more homeowners are talking about low carbon heating systems. A heat pump system is different to a traditional central heating system that uses a gas or oil boiler so to help homeowners fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of this renewable technology, we have summarised some in this article.

An air source heat pump cleverly uses the heat energy in the air and captures this to be used in a central heating system. Instead of using a fossil fuel, heat pumps are a renewable energy source and require electricity to power them. They do operate differently to a traditional heating system so living with a heat pump is not the same as a gas or oil-fired system. There are many benefits that homeowners can enjoy when they own a heat pump but it is important that they understand the differences too, so let us take a look at some air source heat pump pros and cons.

Our Top 6 Heat Pump Pros & Cons

1. Advantage – heat pumps can eliminate your gas or oil fuel bills
If your home is currently heated by a fossil fuel, such as gas, oil or LPG, by swapping to a heat pump, you will no longer need to order these fuels. You can therefore enjoy not having these fuel costs to pay each month as your gas bills will be no more!

2. Disadvantage – electricity usage will increase with a heat pump
As mentioned above, heat pumps do need electricity in order to work so if you install a heat pump, you will likely see an increase in your electricity usage. It is recommended that homeowners contact their energy supplier to see if a heat pump electricity tariff is available which may be a cheaper and more suitable tariff for an electric based renewable heating system.

3. Advantage – heat pumps are very efficient
When an air source heat pump is installed and set up correctly, they are very efficient units, maximising output for the energy consumed. For example, the Grant Aerona³ 6kW air source heat pump produces 6kW at a SCOP of 4.62 when tested at a low temperature and in average climate conditions (SCOP refers to the efficiency of a heat pump, calculating its overall performance during a particular season and dividing this by the annual energy consumed to run the heat pump). In summary, what this means is that for every kilowatt of energy used to run the heat pump, over 4kW of energy is being given to the heating system in return.

To view the performance data of Grant heat pumps, please download the data sheet here.

4. Disadvantage – you may need to install new radiators
A term you will often hear of with heat pumps is ‘low temperature system’. Unlike boilers which are high temperature systems, a heat pump operates at a lower flow temperature so to ensure that this heat can be effectively transferred into the space within the home, sufficient heat emitter surface area is needed and this is why correctly sizing the heat emitters is so important. It is not always possible to use existing radiators with a new heat pump as larger radiators, or an underfloor heating system, may be better suited.

5. Advantage – heat pumps are user-friendly
Grant heat pumps are user-friendly being both straightforward to control and simple to maintain. When an installer sets up and commissions a heat pump, they will set the core parameters of the system so that the end-user has minimal interaction with the controls. Thereafter, the homeowner can adjust their desired room temperatures via third-party controls, which may be app enabled, and they can sit back and enjoy their renewable system. The only thing to remember is to arrange the annual servicing of the heat pump.

6. Disadvantage – more preparation is needed to design the system
Compared to traditional boiler replacements, a heat pump installation requires significantly more planning and preparation. The design of the system must be thoroughly completed with a detailed heat loss calculation carried out on the property to ensure it is well insulated, as well as a correct assessment of the heat pump output required and the correct sizing of the chosen heat emitters. It is important that no corners are cut during the design phase to ensure that the system installed is the right one to meet the heat demand of the property most effectively and efficiently.

Provided the unit is installed correctly, adhering to all the do’s and don’ts which are detailed in our heat pump brochure, a heat pump will deliver years of reliable, sustainable home heating.

Homeowners need to be well informed about heat pumps so if you are interested in learning more about this renewable technology, visit our Knowledge Hub.

If you are interested in learning more about air source heat pumps, you may be interested in taken a listen to our Net Zero Heating Show podcast. The podcast is aimed at installers and heating professionals but homeowners looking to learn more about this renewable technology will also find it an interesting listen.