• NWD Architects

Heating up: installing heat pumps as an alternative to gas boilers

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

The conversation around climate change and the journey towards Net Zero continues apace. While many of us are looking at what we can do to make our daily lives more sustainable, there are some important changes in the pipeline to ensure that we make a more significant difference in the future. One of these changes is that gas boilers will be banned in new homes from 2025.

While this is still a few years away, if you are planning a new home or a substantial renovation to an existing property, you should probably think about the type of heating system you are planning on installing too.

There are numerous options available, including infrared heating panels, solar panels and biomass boilers and stoves.

Another alternative is heat pumps. These weren’t always a viable alternative, but this is rapidly becoming the preferred solution for many as a sustainable alternative to gas central heating. Technology has evolved since heat pumps were first introduced, and this, coupled with the Government’s focus on low carbon heating solutions, makes them an attractive option. Capable of producing up to four times more heat than conventional electric heaters using the same amount of electricity, heat pumps are extremely efficient and reliable, making them ideal for homes.

What type of heat pumps are there?

Ground source heat pumps: like the name suggests, ground source heat pumps draw heat from the ground. They can easily be used to heat the house and the hot water system.

Air-to-water heat pumps: these can provide heating, hot water and air conditioning, and are particularly energy efficient.

Water-to-water heat pumps: much of the installation for water-to-water heat pumps is underground, as the energy for them is drawn from groundwater. These are particularly effective for apartment blocks, rather than single houses.

Air-to-air heat pumps: these satisfy green housing requirements and can be used to effectively cool and heat your home, drawing the energy from the outside air.

Hybrid heat pumps: these are a good solution if you want to start making the move to a more sustainable heating solution, but still want to use a gas condensing boiler.

How do heat pumps work?

A heat pump is a device that uses a small amount of electricity to absorb the natural heat from a cold space and releases it in a warmer one. It does this by employing the same method of heat transfer as a fridge, only in reverse. Reversible heat pumps can actually provide heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.

Even when it is cold outside, a heat pump extracts heat from the air, ground or water and uses it to heat your home. The pump runs off electricity and it connects directly to your central heating system, so it feeds heat into your radiators, wall units or underfloor heating.

Heat pumps provide renewable energy and utilise a clean and sustainable source of power. This natural heat is constantly being replenished by the sun, so unlike fossil fuels, such as gas and oil, there is no risk of it running out. You can also go one step further and generate your own electricity from, for example solar panels, in which case you will become energy self-sufficient, reducing your bills and you carbon emissions even further.

Are heat pumps the answer?

When correctly designed, these systems are extremely efficient and provide a green heating option. There is also funding available, which means that although a costly installation, you can potentially recoup this spend via the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Once installed you will find a heat pump cost effective to run and if you already have some form of renewable energy being produced, such as from solar panels, your overheads will reduce even further.

Don’t forget, the domestic RHI scheme will close to new applicants on the 31st of March 2022. After which it will be replaced by the “Boiler Upgrade Scheme” which will provide a grant towards installations.

When it comes to our private residential services, we can provide a design service from start to finish of a construction project. From the first drawings to the completion of a project, we design everything from the smallest extension or alteration to designs for building the most prestigious homes. We are always happy to discuss your project or to arrange a free of charge initial consultation, so please get in touch with the team today.

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