Soaring energy prices continue to make the headlines, but if you want to ignore all the bad news, try fitting a heat pump in your home.
Yes, this heat pump - of which there are three kinds; ground, air and water-source - might cost between £6000 and £17,000 to install, but the investment will eventually save you more money thanks to its reliance on free and renewable energy.
Most homeowners have either a ground or air source heat pump, because water source ones must be immersed in a lake, river or stream, which most people don't have in their gardens.
Ground source heat pumps extract warmth from the earth and use it to heat your home or hot water. The (above-ground) pump is connected to a series of pipes (the ground loop) buried in the garden and can be used in all seasons, although a back-up heating system might be needed in winter.
Air source heat pumps take heat from the air outside, increase its temperature and use it inside the home. There are two types; air-to-air pumps and air-to-water pumps. The former produce warm (and also cool) air and circulate it through fans. Air-to-water pumps supply your home's (wet) central heating system. Air source heat pumps can work at temperatures as low as -15C outside, but tend to become less effective when under -5C, so, again, another form of heating may be necessary in the depths of winter.
If your home is heated by radiators, they won't get as hot with a heat pump as they would with a boiler - you'll need to have them on for longer or replace them with more powerful versions. The perfect partner for a heat pump is actually wet underfloor heating because both of them work at lower temperatures. However, wet underfloor heating isn't particularly easy or cost-effective to retrofit - it's better to install it when renovating or building a house.
Heat pumps warm the air gently, so they're also not ideal if your home heats up and cools down rapidly. They work most efficiently in homes with good insulation and draught proofing, which many period properties do not have.
While you should be able to cut your home's CO2 emissions by fitting a heat pump, it will depend on the type of heating you're replacing. According to the Energy Saving Trust, heat pumps are most likely to reduce CO2 emissions and energy bills when replacing a coal, electric or LPG heating system, although they should cut CO2 emissions when replacing any heating system powered by fossil fuels. The pump needs electricity to work, so the most eco-friendly option is to generate your own electricity using, say, solar panels or a wind turbine, but these don't come cheap.
The Trust says ground source heat pumps cost from around £9,000 to £17,000, while air source heat pumps are less expensive, at around £6,000 to £10,000, excluding the cost of the heat distribution system.
All of this is, admittedly, a big price to pay, but if energy suppliers continue to increase their bills as steeply as they have been, it may be worth it.
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