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Comparing Heat Pumps

Sam
2019-11-04

Homeowners looking for an alternative way to heat their homes will want to consider heat pumps as an energy efficient and cost effective solution. With a vast number of advantages, there’s never been a better time to explore the multitude of benefits that come with installing heat pumps for your home. Last year, over 22,000 units were installed across the UK as this home improvement option continues to soar in popularity. We have the answers to some of the most common questions you'll have, including:

  • How do heat pumps work?
  • What benefits do they provide?
  • What options are there?
  • Can a heat pump save me money?

CompareCompanies has the expertise to answer these questions so you can make an informed decision about whether heat pumps are the right fit for your home, and which option is best for you. With several distinct designs, each working differently and offering unique benefits, you can consider which is the best choice for you. 

We will then put you in touch with three or four experienced installers who will provide nothing less than the best service and highest quality installation for your chosen heat pump. You will be under no obligation to accept any of the quotes offered to you, and the process will be simple and straightforward through to the day your heat pump is installed. 

Air source heat pump advantages

Air source heat pumps work similarly to solar panels. Heat from the air evaporates the chemical liquid and moves it from the steam generator into a smaller chamber. The chemical begins to boil, the steam is transferred to a condenser, and the heat is then released into your home's heating system. 

The warmth produced by air source heat pumps can power radiators, underfloor heating and warm air convection systems. They are also great for heating bath water and washing up to a temperate of around 55 degrees Celsius. There are two types of air source heat pumps:

  • Air-to-water air source pumps heat water and send it through your internal piping to your radiators
  • Air-to-air systems use warmth from outside and deliver it to your warm air vent heating in your home. This type cannot be used for heating water

Air source heat pumps offer a vast number of advantages for homeowners looking for an energy efficient and low maintenance home improvement solution. As well as a reduced carbon footprint and the ability to resolve the build-up of ice in very cold snaps, other benefits include:

  • Easy installation, in most cases completed by an expert in less than a day
  • Customisable options, with the choice to cover the outdoor element to protect it from the weather, as well as separate units upstairs and downstairs for a consistent level of warmth throughout your home
  • Reversible process, so you can use your heat pump as a cooling system during summer

Air source heat pump disadvantages

While there are many upsides to installing an air source heat pump on your property, it is important to consider any potential disadvantages that this home improvement solution might bring. While there are many benefits that heat pumps can afford any property, they may not be the ideal choice for every property. The functionality of this will depend on the specifications of your home.

Homeowners with a recently installed gas or boiler may not enjoy the same financial savings that those with older heating systems will see more clearly and readily. Other factors you may want to take into consideration when thinking about choosing an air source heat pump include:

  • Significant noise, akin to an air conditioning unit, more so in colder months
  • New radiators may be needed in order to generate the warmth for the rooms around your home that you want, which will come at an added cost and potentially additional pipework
  • Water hot enough for baths, but taps will not be able to dispense boiling water

Air source heat pumps will make a worthwhile addition to homes that have the functionality to embrace them fully, as well as the space for installation. The unit will be installed on the outside of your property, either on a wall or on the ground, depending on the space available. 

Your air source heat pump will need to work harder during winter, requiring increased electric input to support it. As a result, your property would greatly benefit from full insulation, including the roof. However, insulation is a worthwhile investment for any home, so encouraging this is an additional way that air source heat pumps will help homeowners run their property more efficiently.  

Ground source heat pump advantages

Ground source heat pumps are composed of two main components: the heat pump and the ground array. A series of pipes dug underground around your property compress and expand to redirect solar energy absorbed by the soil into your home instead, and act as a much greener alternative to traditional central heating and hot water systems.

This solar energy from the sun's rays is kept underground by the soil for decades, so the ground source heat pump exploits this natural reserve of energy and makes it work for you. The ground array can be in two different forms depending on the layout of your property:

  • With a vertical ground source heat pump, your expert installer will drill up to three 100m deep boreholes to generate up to 8kW of electricity for your home. This is often the best option for homeowners without a lot of land around their property
  • For homeowners with at least half a hectare of suitable land, your installer may recommend a horizontal ground source heat pump. They will lay either a curved close loop of piping or straight piping into a 120cm deep trench in your grounds. 400 square metres of piping is needed for 8kW of electricity if the land is made of clay, and twice this if thinner soil

The ground source heat pump is a durable alternative to standard boilers and operates significantly quieter than the air source heat pump. With their discreet nature and lack of necessary upkeep, homeowners will hardly notice it working, but you will recognise all its benefits, including:

  • Low maintenance, with a minimum of 20 years' use, while regular checks are encouraged
  • Hot and cold air, so you can stay as cool in the summer as you will be warm in the winter, and they are a more environmentally friendly and much cheaper alternative to standard air conditioning systems
  • Increased space, as you will no longer need to store oil, coal or similar fuels on your property

Ground source heat pump disadvantages

It is important to take into account every aspect of your planned ground source heat pump installation, both positive and less so, before investing in one for your property. 

Ground source heat pump systems can pay back their cost in full after between four and seven years of use. This return would be a result of the money saved from lower heating bills and the government subsidies received as part of the Domestic Renewable Heat initiative. They are, however, a significant initial investment that must be paid before any potential savings are made. Other downsides include:

  • Boiling water will not be available through taps, but will be warm enough for bathing and washing
  • 20% of the electricity needed to run ground source heat pumps will still need to come from the mains, but an alternative source for this can be renewable sources like solar panels, so while it isn't 100% green it may be for a lot of the time
  • Larger radiators and home insulation may be needed to achieve desired levels of warmth

If you're thinking of choosing a ground source heat pump, consider the advantages stacked up alongside the potential disadvantages. Our expert partners may recommend additional work to be carried out on your property to maximise the functionality of your new installation, such as improved insulation and exploring renewable energy. However, these are recommended for all homes, not only those choose heat pumps. 

There are additional costs associated with a ground source heat pump, but these investments will in many cases help your home to run more smoothly, and the money will make its way back to you in the long term. It is worth weighing up the commitments, financially and personally, associated with optimising your home for a heat pump installation.

The right heat pump for you

So, you've decided you want to upgrade your home with a heat pump. Which do you choose? While the benefits of both air and ground source heat pumps are outlined above, it is useful to see how they stack up against each other when we compare the two options. 

There are more similarities than differences when you put the two heat pumps side by side. Government initiatives rewarding the switch to heat pumps vary for both according to the installation you are switching from, and both pay out for the first seven years, allowing you to make your investment back. 

If pricing is a primary consideration, air source heat pumps are usually more cost effective to install. They also cause less disruption to your property as, unlike the alternative, they do not require underground components to be fitted around your property. However, ground source heat pumps are generally known to run more efficiently despite their initial costs for purchase and installation.

Your choice of heat pump could depend on the layout of your property and the space you have available. Similar to air conditioning units, air source heat pumps are fitted onto the side of the building and cause little to no disruption during installation. Still, you may want to invest in a cover or shelter to protect yours from the elements.

Installing round source heat pumps, on the other hand, involves laying pipes underground, so you must have the space on your property to do this. However, with the choice between laying vertical and horizontal pipes depending on your home, you can save yourself money and space on your property based on your specific needs, so you can make the right choice for you.

There is no easy answer to the question of which heat pump is better, and both will bring a range of benefits to your home once installed. With all the key information available to you, we hope you’re able to make an informed decision as to whether heat pumps are right for you, and if so, which style you would choose. If you are still unsure, our partners and expert teams are always here to help.

Compare heat pump prices

Both air source and ground source heat pumps are worthy alternatives to traditional boiler and heating systems, so it's no surprise that they have been growing in popularity in the UK recently. With society and even government initiatives encouraging homeowners to go green and consider their energy efficiency more closely, heat pumps are rising to the top of home improvement solutions.

At CompareCompanies, we will connect you with expert installers to help you make the right decision regarding the new heat pump for your property. We’ve partnered with dozens of accredited installers so you can be sure that you will receive the best product and service for you and your home. Whatever the source of your heat pump, air or ground, the end result will always be a low maintenance, cost effective and energy efficient upgrade to any property.

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