Frequently Asked Heat Pump Questions

Here you'll find answers to the most popular heat pump questions

What is a Heat Pump for?

A heat pump is the latest technology for heating your house using radiators and underfloor heating. Home heating always follows the most readily available energy. In the years up to the 1970s coal was in cheap and plentiful supply so coal fires and back boilers were the way to heat your house. In the 1970s gas became cheap and widely available so the gas boilers took off. The latest cheap energy source is renewable electricity from wind and solar panels. This is driving the heating industry into efficient electric heating systems.

Does it do hot water as well?

Yes, with a heat pump we use a hot water cylinder and can provide all your hot water needs.

What’s the difference between a heat source pump and an air source heat pump.

Strictly speaking heat pumps are all air source or ground source, there is no such thing as a heat source pump, but this is a popular name for this technology

Do I have to dig up my garden?

With a ground source heat pump a coil of hose is buried 1.5 m deep in your garden. The coil is very long, typically 600m of pipe would be installed for a 3-bed house. In this case yes you need a digger to dig a trench, bury the hose and then back fill the trench. The alternative is to use an air source heat pump. With these you have a unit similar in look to an air-conditioning unit in the back garden.

Do they work?

This question always makes us laugh, of course they work. The technology has been around for over 100 years. It’s the same technology and components as you have in your domestic fridge-freezer but on a bigger scale. The systems we sell have all been tested in weather down to -20 degrees.

If they didn’t work all it’s fair to say that our existing customers would call us, and our business wouldn’t last long. As we are almost 10 years old, with around 6,000 heat pumps under our belt, we are confident they work.

Do I need a boiler as well as a heat pump?

Yes and No. In 9 out of 10 cases we design a system which is standalone where the heat pump heats all your hot water and supplies all your heating. In very large houses people often have a boiler and a heat pump working together. We call these hybrids. They take maximum advantage of the incentives and are often simpler to install.

If I buy a heat pump do you have to replace the whole heating system already in place?

In an ideal world a totally new system would be perfect but it’s very popular to use a heat pump and recycle as much of the existing system as possible. We can’t guarantee a straight swap, but we can build systems which retain most of your system and avoid disruption in the house.

There are hundreds of renewable technologies available with a variety of claims, how do I work out what’s best for me?

The secret with any complex range of choices is to get some help. Contacting someone who specialises in a technology will ensure you get the best, most relevant advice for your property. If you are after impartial advice, contacting us on 02380 274 833 or speaking to one of our installation partners is a good place to start.

How do we know we can trust the advice?

Most renewable technologies come with a government incentive which helps you enter the renewable market. With the incentive comes some very tight regulations on the suppliers and the installers. These regulations are designed to make sure you don’t receive fictitious claims about performance and costs. It is worth looking at the information here from Ofgem who actually pay the incentive https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/domestic-rhi/about-domestic-rhi. If an installer or supplier tells you mistruths, they are at risk of losing their MCS accreditation so it would be incredibly unwise for them to lie to you.

What is the incentive and how does it work?

The domestic renewable heat incentive (DRHI) is a scheme run by the government as a way of encouraging people to buy renewable heating products. If you buy a renewable heating product you can receive an incentive from the government paid over 7 years from when the heating system installed. The domestic RHI is open to people on and off the gas grid (i.e. oil, LPG, direct electric), only Self Build/ Custom Build and Retrofit systems are eligible and the installer and the units must be accredited by MCS.

This makes good reading https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/domestic-renewable-heat-incentive-essential-guide-applicants

How much is the incentive?

You only get RHI on the first 20000 kWhrs of heat required (30,000kWhrs in the case of ground source). There is a cap at 20000 or 30,000 kWhrs per year, which is the approx. output of 1 large heat pump unit, so basically, we say you only get RHI on the first unit. This skews the market towards small and average size houses.
The maximum RHI you will receive for air source is around £10,500 per annum paid quarterly and for a ground source heat pump it is £32,000, again paid quarterly

What is MCS?

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is an internationally recognized quality assurance scheme, supported by BEIS. MCS certifies technologies used to produce electricity and heat from renewable sources.
MCS is also an eligibility requirement for the Government’s financial incentives, which include the Feed-in Tariff and the Renewable Heat Incentive.

The scheme is designed to inspire confidence in renewable technologies with financial backing from the government.
Both the equipment installed and the installer themselves must have MCS accreditation and work within the guidelines set out by MCS for the system installed to be eligible for any government incentives.
MCS offers the end-user peace of mind that the equipment you are supplying will work and will be installed correctly. MCS also has a complaints procedure that the end-user can use if they experience any problems with the installation.

Are all systems covered by MCS?

No. There are some which are not, and some that are.
All Samsung, Hitachi, Mitsubishi and most of the Clausius heat pump products are MCS accredited for domestic use.
They are all listed on the MCS website. Link below

https://www.microgenerationcertification.org/consumers/product-search/

Can I buy a unit on eBay, fit it myself and receive the incentive

The simple answer is no. The units are unlikely to be covered by MCS, and the person who installs it must also be MCS accredited for you to receive the renewable heat incentive (DRHI)