Welcome to Heatio's new podcast, The Home Energy Show, where we'll be talking to you about ways in which you can reduce your energy bills. We'll be looking at how you can be more sustainable and ultimately reduce your carbon footprint.
Heat Pumps: The Cost & How They Work
In our first podcast episode, we talk to Graham Hendra - Heat Pump expert and author of '50 things you need to know about Heat Pumps.' Graham shares with us his extensive knowledge of heat pumps having worked with leading suppliers such as Freedom Heat Pumps and Daikin and as the founder of ABC Heat Pumps.
As homeowners look for ways they can decarbonise their homes and make energy-efficient improvements we answer your questions on making the switch to heat pumps. In this episode, we explore how they work, what's the cost and what energy savings they can deliver.
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Check out some of the key areas we cover:
What is a Heat Pump?
"Essentially a heat pump is a modern boiler. So if you think for the last 30, 40, 50 years you've had a gas boiler or an oil boiler, the next generation of boilers are renewable. A heat pump is a renewable boiler. So what heat pumps are going to do, is replace your fossil fuel system with a heating system that has a much smaller impact on the environment.
They're nothing magic, they're nothing amazing. They just heat your house using the same old radiators and pipes and cylinders, but not by burning something in your house. They actually use renewable electricity to drive."
Do we come across them in our day-to-day lives?
"I was born in 1970. Maybe my parents had a good job, but we had a fridge freezer. And a fridge freezer is a heat pump. Now you hear a lot of people getting a little bit excited about the difference between a fridge and a heat pump, but I always think about it like this. When you bought your freezer, you bought a machine that when you opened the door, inside it was lovely and cold and you could put your pizza in, or your chicken. And everybody knows if you leave it in there long enough, the heat that gets sucked out of it disappears somewhere and you end up with frozen food.
The back of your fridge is the hot bit. That's where the heat comes out. Where your fridge is sucking the heat out of your pizza or chicken. If you listen very carefully to your fridge, you can hear a humming sound. The humming sound is just a pump on the back that's pumping the refrigerant around. Once it's full of heat, we then push it through a compressor and we ring the heat out of it. So, if you go down the back and hang out there, there is heat pouring off that funny black coil off the back of your freezer. So you are actually heating your kitchen with Turkey power. Your taking a little bit of heat out of your food, pumping it around and warming your kitchen up. So basically, if I was trying to sell that as a heat pump guy, I would tell you that you've got a Turkey to kitchen heat pump.
So what we are gonna do with an air source heat pump is exactly the same process, but instead of having a load of freezers, what we do is we put the cold bit, the bit with all the refrigerant running around, in your garden. So, we'll suck the heat out of the air in your garden, even if it's -5 or -10, and use a heat exchanger to heat up your water, which we pump around the house through your radiators."
How do we incentivise people to switch to a Heat Pump if the industry average is £7,000-£13,000 pounds?
"Imagine a scenario in which I've just spent £10,000 on a heating system and I go to the pub with my mates tonight and I say, 'Guys, I just spent £10,000 on a heating system'. Obviously, they say, 'Are you mental? You know heating systems are £3,500'. So I need to tell them a reason why I've done this. Our industry has sort of forgotten that and there is no punchline. You can't go, I've got x, y, and z reasons.
We've got to get real and look at things that are plausible. I think the secret is we need to focus on getting the overall cost of the installation well away from the £13,000. I mean £13,000 is fine if you live in an enormous house, but in the average three-bedroom semi-UK house, 125 metres squared, that's the stock house. That's the one we've got to work on. Those guys are paying £3,500 for a boiler, and it's £7,000 to £10,000 for a heat pump. As an industry, we have got to focus on the fact that £10,000 is just not going to work long term. It's going to be a niche industry until this price comes down.
There's a funding scheme from the government called the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. Everybody that owns a property has the opportunity to get £5,000 towards their installation. So that brings the capital cost down to anywhere between £2,000 to £7,000. Now we know that at that bottom end of £2,000, we're starting to get close to the price of a boiler installation. Well, that's actually cheaper than a boiler. You'd be lucky to get a boiler put in for £3,000 unless your son's a plumber."
Check out the full episode now. Available on all major platforms.