About: The heat pump has usually been the preferred source of heating and cooling in North American households, though in recent years efficiency of these systems has increased. Germany, Sweden and Switzerland seeing have seen increased rates of installation as the EU raises environmental concerns. A heat pump uses electricity to transfer heat indoors or outdoors depending on the season using a compressor. Now the UK government, in its environmental plea, seeks to phase out the gas boiler in favour of the heat pump. The question is, are heat pumps an improvement for households?
The Figures: They are installed outside the house, rather than a gas boiler that takes up a closet space indoors. They work in all times of year and in temperatures up to -15c. Controversy surrounded the fact to that maintain a fault could potentially cost £450, although they are estimated to save £500-£1k per year in energy bills. Lower running costs, less maintenance and a reduction in carbon emissions are the key upsides and they are eligible for the RHI scheme. More can be found on the government page here.
The key downsides are the high upfront cost (£8k – £45k to install depending on the size of your house), difficulty of installation and that planning permission required from your council. The government announced an offer of £5000 in subsidy, though this has a chance of increasing as the years pass. So far, the reception has not been positive in the press and tradesmen have been outspoken about their installation. The only path to wider spread adoption will ultimately be the government putting their money where their mouth is, for the right cause.
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