Heat pumps have hit the headlines recently as British households look to lower their bills and carbon footprint by replacing expensive fossil fuels for home heating and hot water.
Now British Gas has announced it will be offering the lowest priced air source heat pump installations, with prices starting from £2,999 per install, sparking a price war among installers on heat pump installations.
The energy firm has also promised to match anything lower offered by another company for an installation that is MCS-certified, an industry-led quality assurance scheme which demonstrates the quality and reliability of approved products and installation companies.
Why are heat pumps being pushed right now?
Heat pumps pump or move heat from one place to another. They use a compressor and a circulating structure of liquid or gas refrigerant to extract heat from outside sources and pump it indoors.
There are two different types – Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) absorb heat from the outside air, while ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) use pipes buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground.
The technology has been put forward as an alternative to traditional gas boilers and electric heating, but concerns have been raised about the cost and how suitable they are for some homes.
However, they can lower fuel bills, the user could get income through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (if they signed up in time), emit less carbon, and there are no fuel deliveries needed, which is potentially handy for homes in remote locations. Homeowners can also take advantage of various heat pump grants when purchasing one as well as the government's boiler upgrade scheme.
What does the British Gas offer involve?
The offer applies to a standard air source heat pump up to 7Kw and a standard cylinder with a capacity up to 200L, along with mechanical and electrical air source heat pump installation. British Gas will further support customers by offering five years warranty after installation.
Andrew Middleton, Managing Director of British Gas Net Zero, said: “Heat pumps are an essential part of the UK’s journey towards a decarbonised future. We recognise that many households are being cautious with their spending in the current climate and want to do all we can to make this technology more affordable – so that those customers who can make the move to low carbon heating feel compelled to do so now.
“Supporting our customers in lowering their emissions at home is at the forefront of our plans and we need to make sure it is affordable and accessible so that no one is left behind.
“We are committed to working with governments, regulators and legislators to ensure we have the right policies and frameworks in place to achieve this.”
Why aren’t heat pumps more popular?
Installation cost is a major issue at around £8,000, depending on the size of the property but with British Gas offering installation at only £2,999, coupled with the government's boiler upgrade scheme it is now possible to buy and install a heat pump for under £5,000. We explain how to do this in this piece after British Gas initially indicated it would be announcing cheap heat pump installations.
However, consumers are also wary of the technology. The British Gas Net Zero Index released at the end of 2022 showed that there is more uncertainty about low carbon heating compared to other energy efficiency products like insulation and solar panels.
When homeowners were asked what they would replace their existing boiler with, 37% said a similar gas or oil-fired boiler and only 14% said they’d choose a heat pump.
They can also be difficult to install, may lose effectiveness in cold weather, and usually require planning permission. Depending on the size of the property, a large outdoor area may be needed for a ground source heat pump.
Get the Homebuilding & Renovating Newsletter
Bring your dream home to life with expert advice, how to guides and design inspiration. Sign up for our newsletter and get two free tickets to the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show (21-24 March, NEC, Birmingham).
Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world. As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.