Interesting visit today to the Chesterfield HQ of NIBE UK, the British arm of the giant Swedish heat pump manufacturer. They’re not (as yet) a very well known name in the UK because they are suppliers rather than distributors but I’m told by their friendly and informed MD Phil Hurley that they are the number one supplier of heat pumps in the country (both ground and air source).

I got an email from a website visitor while I was in the meeting. I quote: “I had a GSHP fitted in April 2009 and it still doesn’t work properly. We achieved temperatures of only 10-15 degrees last winter with the electricity working 17 hours a day.”

It’s pretty grim reading but not unique. Having spoken to various experts I’m told that there are two main reasons why heat pumps don’t work as promised. Firstly, they are the wrong heat pump for the wrong.

Secondly, on plan houses are super-efficient and airtight. Put them in front of the average on-site trauma of building, however, and those high standards of efficiency and in particular airtightness begin to slip. Put simply, the house is different on plan to the one that’s built – which means that a heat pump specified for an efficient house on plan won’t work so well for the one that’s built.

NIBE are a company that specialise in expertise. They offer a training scheme for any plumber who wants to learn more about heat pumps, and the quality of the pumps they have to offer seems second to none. I know that if I were choosing a heat pump pretty soon, I’d be looking out for experts to advise me and not just the hard sell.

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