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What Is a Hybrid Heating System?

Author: David Edwards
Updated: Oct 19, 2023
7 minutes read
  • Hybrid heat pumps fuse the old and the new
  • Combine with gas or oil to lessen your carbon footprint
  • Top manufacturers mass produce hybrid pumps

It’s fair to say, globally, our energy use is in transition. Hybrid heat pumps are a fusion of the old and new.

Making it possible to use a contemporary heat pump or solar panels with a traditional gas boiler (or even one that runs on oil), a hybrid heating system is a great way to reduce your carbon use and energy costs at the same time.

So often, installation costs and lifestyle changes involved in green solutions make them a barrier to mainstream use. Yet with a heat pump or solar panels added to your existing boiler, hybrid heat pumps are an affordable renewable energy solution that can fit easily with any daily routine.

Universal application makes hybrid heating systems a critical part of our progression to Net Zero 2050. At present, sole use of renewable heating solutions are not viable for every family or property.

It’s vital every household can continue to receive the heating and hot water they need so hybrid heat pumps are essential. They ensure every home can enjoy the benefits of lower carbon heating whilst helping to reduce the damaging carbon emissions fossil fuel energy produces without living in discomfort.

Read on to discover all you need to know about hybrid systems and how they can help you.

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What Are Hybrid Heat Pumps?

Hybrid heat pumps connect to your existing boiler setup and work in conjunction with it. Whether oil, gas or LPG, your existing boiler helps power an energy efficient heat pump.

Government-backed heat pumps are increasingly popular and set to become a standard fixture in UK homes as we move towards net zero 2050. Making it easy to gain a domestic renewable energy solution, it’s no surprise it’s to heat pumps most people turn when they want a hybrid heating system.

Hybrid Heat Pumps

Whether it’s a ground source heat pump or the more common air source heat pump, when it's combined with a gas or oil boiler, it’s known as a hybrid system.

Hybrid heat pumps operate in conjunction with another type of energy. In this case, a heat pump. Other hybrid systems work on solar power. Hybrid heating systems make it possible to switch from your heat pump or solar panel energy source back to traditional gas or oil energy, as and when you wish.

How Hybrid Heating Systems Work

Your hybrid system also lets you top up heating produced by your renewable heat pump or solar panels, with gas or oil-generated energy from your boiler, if you need to.

For some owners, hybrid functionality provides the security they need to be sure their renewable heating solution can provide for all their domestic needs in any situation.

Though this means a hybrid system may not be a completely renewable solution, hybrid functionality does ensure homeowners can get all the functionality they need whilst making renewable heating solutions more appealing and accessible to the masses. The main benefit comes from hybrid heat pumps.

With homeowners now obliged to make future boiler updates more environmentally-friendly, hybrid heating systems are an increasingly good option for those who want to transition to renewable heating at a gentler pace. You are most likely able to get more out of hybrid heat pumps.

Learn more about combi boilers, their benefits and why you’ll have to get one at your next upgrade in our complete guide to combi boilers.

You can, of course, also add a smart thermostat to further improve the efficiency of your energy use.

Able to work with a ground or air source heat pumps, as well as solar panels, hybrid heating systems provide a wide range of combinations to make it easier for families with differing needs to find the right heating solution for their home. At the same time, homeowners can help the environment and reduce their energy bills. Hybrid heat pumps work well because they can also produce heat without as much energy use.

Everything to know about hybrid air source heat pumps.

Why Install a Hybrid Heating System?

Times are changing and here in the UK we already have a clear pathway mapped out to take us to 2050 by which time gas and oil boilers will be a thing of the past. Legislation is already in place to move us all on to combi boilers and numerous incentives have and will be offered to help us make the move to renewable energy.

It’s not going to happen overnight and our gas and oil boilers are an integral part of our everyday lives, so for some it’s easier to make the switch to renewable heating more gently than others.

There can be so many reasons why switching to a low heating solution isn’t straightforward. For some, the challenges are environmental; others domestic.

This is where hybrid heating comes in.

Hybrid heat pumps bridge the gap between what we may want ideally and need practically.

Combining a low carbon heating source with a proven traditional boiler means any homeowner can get low carbon to an extent and take their first steps towards carbon neutral heating without affecting daily routines. It’s the reason why the Committee for Climate Change has backed hybrid heat pumps since 2019.

While hybrid heating systems are only partially low carbon, the quantity of damaging carbon emissions will be reduced with multiple installations.

Adding a low carbon solution to an existing boiler makes it quicker and easier for more people to reduce their carbon emissions – this can only be a good thing for our fast-depleting planet.

You can see typical costs associated with air source hybrid heat pumps in the interactive graph below. This is compared to a retrofit, which will easily set you back more, according to Checkatrade.

What Are the Benefits of Hybrid Heat Pumps?

There are a multitude of advantages that can be achieved when switching to hybrid heat pumps, including how they can be integrated into your existing setup.

  • Reliable system: If you’re installing a new renewable heating solution, such as heat pumps or solar panels, it’s fantastic to have the added reassurance the energy source you use will deliver heating to your home in the usual way. The option to revert back to gas or oil if circumstances make it necessary is essential for busy families who need to stick to routines and trusted machinery to ensure their home is properly heated and hot water is in adequate supply
  • Universal use: For some properties and families in the UK, it may be the case that heat pumps or solar panels wouldn’t be able to provide all the hot water and heating they need year-round, if they used them on their own. For other homeowners, their property may require costly insulation upgrades, new radiators or underfloor heating to get the right levels of heat or energy efficiency from a low carbon system. With hybrid heat pumps, any home can obtain lower carbon heating quickly and easily without any hassle
  • Affordable: Though prices for air source heat pumps are lower, ground source heat pumps and solar panels can be costly to install. However, in the long run, hybrid heat pumps can prove to be more worthwhile than using solar panels for your heating
  • Low carbon heating: Air source heat pumps transform outside air into heat. Ground source heat pumps use warm air from underground. Solar panels, of course, use sunlight. For these reasons, hybrid heating systems are a partially renewable heating solution, which helps to reduce carbon emissions and lower your personal carbon consumption. As hybrid heat pumps provide heat themselves, unlike solar panels, they can be more effective
  • Good value: Your hybrid system will make sure you’re ready for the fast-approaching changes on their way as we move towards Net Zero 2050. Lasting up to 20 years, hybrid heat pumps are a great investment that will ensure you’re future ready

The only downside is that hybrid heat pumps don't qualify for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). The £7,500 discount only applies to sole installations of air or ground source heat pumps or biomass boilers, not hybrid systems.

Top brands for hybrid heat pumps include: Daikin, Firebird and Vaillant. The Best Heat Pumps in 2023 gives you an idea about top of the range heat pumps. You can also get a tailored quote from our expert installers in minutes for a clear idea of how much you’ll pay for a hybrid heating system.