Heat Pumps Could Match Gas Boiler Costs as Early as 2030
- £15 million funding towards innovation
- What’s the Heat Pump Ready Programme?
- Current costs of heat pump systems
- The benefits of heat pumps
The green energy revolution is upon us, and heat pumps will be coming down in price over the next decade. Government funding is expected to improve the technology included in these key pieces of heating equipment, which will make them simpler to install and cheaper to buy. This will put them on level with gas boilers, which, at an average of £3,750, is very welcome news.
£15 million has been set aside by the government for investment in technological innovation in heat pump systems. This comes at a good time when people are worrying more about energy bills and being more environmentally friendly.
What Are Heat Pumps?
Heat pumps are the government’s preferred low-carbon alternative to gas boilers. They work like a fridge in reverse, taking the ambient heat from outside, amplifying it and using it to warm your home. They are so efficient that they dwarf the efficiencies of gas boilers by a significant margin. While a gas boiler can be 90-95% efficient, heat pump systems are able to achieve an efficiency of 400%. This does differ depending on a number of factors, but heat pumps can effectively produce over 4kW of energy for every kW of electricity they use.
Varieties of heat pump include air and ground source heat pumps. Air source types usually consist of air to air, but air to water is also available, although this is a more expensive option. Air to water types are expected to pick up in popularity as they can cater for your heating and hot water needs.
For UK heat pump reviews, see our article to help determine which model is best for you.
History of Heat Pump Technology
Heat pump technology has been around for much longer than you may have thought. The first heat pump by today’s standards was created in 1856, and improvements in technology have come a long way since then. They’re now capable of heating larger buildings and operating at lower costs.
However, there has always been a real concern over the cost of heat pump systems. While the government has been incentivising people to get heat pumps with an attractive £5,000 or £6,000 off, there is still a significant chunk to pay initially. Thanks to more government funding, innovation will drive these costs down in the near future.
Heat Pump Ready
The £15 million government funding is part of the £60 million Heat Pump Ready Programme, which aims to reduce the barriers of choosing heat pumps and looks to increase their rollout in homes and businesses across the UK.
The government previously stated a target of 600,000 heat pump installations per year by 2028. According to the Heat Pump Association, heat pump sales were at 35,000 in 2019 but had risen to 67,000 in 2021. While this is a hefty increase, it’s still only 11% of the total goal.
This percentage should rapidly increase once the Heat Pump Ready Programme really starts to kick in. It’s an investment that will lead to heat pumps costing the same as gas boilers (to buy and to run) by 2030. Fortunately, though that’s a few years away, there is a closer target of a 25-50% cost reduction by 2025.
The Heat Pump Ready Programme targets consist of the following:
To reduce costs and increase the performance of domestic heat pumps
To minimise any disruption during the installation process
To support an increase in heat pump system deployment
This programme will be used alongside the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), which gives you a discount of £7,500 off the cost of installing heat pumps. Both of these initiatives will bring the price down, so you yourself can be heat pump ready.
And the cherry on top of the cake? There’s no VAT on heat pumps for the next five years, as of April 2022, so there’s even more savings to be made.
Current Heat Pump Costs
Purchase and Installation
Air source heat pumps can cost anywhere between £1,600 to £18,000, while ground source heat pumps can cost between £12,000 and £31,000 because they are a lot more invasive and require a longer time to install. While this is a significant cost, the low energy bills and maintenance costs offset this. The system itself can last for 20-25 years, which is at least double the lifespan of a gas boiler.
The factors that affect these costs are many and various. It’s dependent on the size of your property, how effective your insulation is, which brand of heat pump you go for and also the size of your radiators. Radiators for a heat pump system typically need to be two and a half times larger than the size needed for a gas fired boiler. If your radiators need to be replaced, this will increase the cost of installation.
See our article for more information on how much a heat pump costs to run.
According to data from MCS, the average cost of a heat pump (including both ground and air source) installation across 2022 was £12,869. You can see how the cost differed across the months throughout the year in the graph below.
This data takes into account both air source and ground source heat pumps. With the more expensive ground source heat pumps, take a look at the typical costs seen across the year in 2022 in the interactive graph below. It also shows you how much you could have paid if you also made use of the BUS.
The true operating cost needs to be calculated yourself as it depends on the efficiency of your heat pump system, as well as the required room temperature and the heat source used. Heat pumps work to lower temperatures than gas boilers by at least 20°C. In the winter, for example, they may need to be run constantly because they work to 50°C instead of the typical 70°C radiator output provided by gas boilers.
Heat pumps work in temperatures as low as -20°C, but the lower the temperature, the less efficient the heat pump will run and the more electricity required to extract heat effectively.
If your heat pump is incredibly efficient and produces 3kWh of heat for every kWh of electricity used, you can see a potential running cost of £1,362 a year. This calculation is based on the average heating demand for a household in a year (12,000kWh) and current electricity prices, which have been fixed at 34.04p per kWh for the next two years.
According to data from Energy Saving Trust, you can save anywhere between £145 and £2,500 a year on your energy bills by switching to a ground source heat pump. An air source heat pump will save between £35 and £1,500. This depends on your house type and various factors of your home, such as the levels of insulation, but the savings gained from heat pumps are nothing to be scoffed at.
For the sake of comparison, if we take a standard boiler at 100% efficiency and apply the same calculation, it will cost you over £4,000 to heat your home. In this way alone, you can see the immediate benefits to using heat pumps.
Gas Boiler Ban
On top of the innovation and prices being driven down, the gas boiler ban will come into effect in 2035. This will also have an effect on heat pump prices, as everyone will start to look at alternatives.
More information about boilers vs heat pumps can be found here.
Thanks to all these factors, heat pumps will grow in popularity as the years go by, so a green future is not so out of reach. Investing now is a good way of decreasing your energy bills and getting ahead of the high demand expected.
Heat Pump Benefits
Heat pumps are looking to be the preferred method of home heating for a greener Britain. You can enjoy the following benefits from a heat pump system:
Cheaper energy bills
Installation subsidy available
Lower carbon emissions
Heats air and water to your home
No greenhouse gas emissions