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Boilers vs heat pumps – which is the best option for me?

Air Source Heat Pump

In the current climate, it has never been more important to be as energy efficient as possible. One way to increase your efficiency is through your home heating system – but which is the best option to invest in? Heat pumps or boilers? 

At The Glow Group, we try wherever possible to help our customers to become more energy efficient and reduce their monthly costs. 

With heating and hot water accounting for over half of household energy bills each year, it’s definitely something worth thinking about…  

First, let’s consider the upfront costs 

If we were basing this decision solely on initial costs, then boilers would likely come out on top. 

For a new boiler, prices at The Glow Group start from £1799 upfront with £200 cashback. Heat pumps on the other hand, range from at least £7,000 to £13,000 according to The Energy Saving Trust. 

It is a good idea to get a few different quotes from installers in order to compare pricing and a breakdown of what the package actually entails. 

There are government grants available to apply for if you are looking at installing a heat pump between 2022 and 2025, which could greatly contribute to the initial set-up costs if you’re eligible. 

Because we’re an MCS accredited installer, you could be entitled to a £5,000 voucher when buying a heat pump through us, making this sustainable heating system much more affordable.

However, the initial cost should be weighed against the long term savings, so It’s important though that we also compare the energy efficiency of both options to work out what can be saved in the longer term too. 

What is a heat pump?

Before we go further, it’s important to understand the basics of how a heat pump works and why.

While a gas boiler circulates water through a heat exchanger that’s heated by gas flame, an air source heat pump absorbs heat from the outside air into a low temperature refrigerant, transforming it from a liquid to a gas. 

The heat pump then uses electricity to compress the gas so that it condenses, releasing the heat energy into the water tank used for hot water and household heating.

Air source heat pumps are the most common domestic heat pump, and are suitable for most home types.

If you’d like more information on how heat pumps work, please visit the Energy Saving Trust here. 

Air Source Heat Pump - Glow Groip

Benefits of heat pumps 

For most people, the biggest advantage is the  money you can save on your energy bills; if you replace an old G-rated gas boiler with an air source heat pump, you’ll save up to £910 per year, but changing from an oil boiler could save you even more, with a saving of up to £3,400 per year, according to The Energy Saving Trust.

Of course, they also have a major impact on your carbon footprint: Heat pumps can greatly contribute to reducing household carbon emissions, saving anywhere between 2300 to 12000kg of CO2 per year, depending on what your current heating system is. 

If you were to combine a heat pump with solar panels, then the savings can be even greater, with all of the energy required to run the pump being provided free of charge. This would allow your household to become even more efficient and environmentally friendly. 

Drawbacks of heat pumps

For now, the main reason why heat pumps aren’t always the most cost effective solution is the upfront cost. Even with government support, the initial outlay may be too much for many households looking to save money immediately.

As well as the cost of the heat pump itself, for a heat pump to work at its best, homeowners may need to upgrade their radiators. Because heat pumps circulate hot water to radiators at a lower temperature of 35-45°C, single panel radiators may not have the surface area needed to keep a home warm at this temperature so they may need to be replaced with double or triple panel alternatives.

Another issue with heat pumps is that you need to have somewhere outside of your home where a unit can be fitted. This should be along one of the walls of your home, ideally on the ground and in an area where there’s enough space for the air to flow around it. 

If you’re in a flat,  semi-detached or a terrace property, this can be a real issue as they take up valuable outdoor space.

Lastly, to have a heat pump, you need to have a water tank as they can’t provide hot water on demand like a combi boiler. 

Because they gradually transfer outdoor warmth throughout the day, a heat pump needs to store the hot water for when it’s needed so you’ll need to bear this in mind too, because a water cylinder does take up internal space, whether it’s in a loft or a cupboard. 

There are other options though, such as a hybrid system or a heat battery which takes up less extra space. 

 

New Bosch boiler

Benefits of upgrading your boiler 

While they may seem old fashioned compared to heat pumps, there’s a lot to be said about the advantages of a gas boiler.

Modern boilers are MUCH more efficient than older boilers, as all new models are ‘condensing’. This means that the boiler ultimately recovers more heat and uses it for central heating, meaning less energy is wasted. 

Therefore if you have got an older boiler, you will notice a major improvement if you choose to invest in a new one. 

The Energy Saving Trust calculates that by switching from a G-rated gas boiler to an A-rated condensing boiler, you could potentially save up to £580 a year in energy bills. If you’re switching from a D-rated gas boiler, you can expect to save up to £260 per year.

Boilers are much cheaper heat pumps to install, and means that you won’t need to fork out anywhere near as much money to begin with so a new boiler could pay for itself in under two years.

Drawbacks of boilers 

While combi boilers can be small units that are out-of-sight in the loft or a boiler cupboard, larger homes would be better served by a system boiler with a hot water cylinder.

As with a heat pump, these take up extra internal space, although switching from a combi to a system boiler and back again is relatively simple.

As you may know, the gas boiler will eventually be phased out as part of the Government’s plan to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. As a result,  fossil fuel heating systems, such as oil and gas boilers won’t be fitted in new homes from 2025 onward. 

However, while owners of existing homes might be encouraged to switch, there are currently no plans for a total ban of gas boilers.

In terms of annual yearly savings, installing a new boiler will reduce your heating bills, but not as much as a heat pump will. 

If you’d like advice on which system is best for you, or for a free quote, please contact our team who will be more than happy to help.

Advice Glow

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