Industry News

Heat pump vs gas boiler

Published on
September 25, 2023
A modern UK smart home with a heat pump outside the property in the garden behind the clear french doors going out to the patio. Inside the room there is a small wooden table and a velvet chair with chrome metal tube arms and a shag rug underneath the chairs.

The heating of homes is a pivotal aspect of living, especially in regions experiencing severe winters. In the UK, home heating is a substantial contributor to carbon emissions, accounting for approximately 15% of the total emissions. This scenario is in direct contradiction to the government’s ambitious plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Gas boilers, being the primary source of home heating, are the leading contributors to these emissions. This has led to a paradigm shift towards more sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives such as heat pumps and hydrogen boilers. The UK government is proactive in this transition, aiming to facilitate the installation of 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028 as part of its green initiative.

Understanding heat pumps

Heat pumps are at the forefront of innovative heating solutions, designed meticulously to transfer heat from one location to another. They operate by extracting heat from external sources like air or the ground to heat homes efficiently. The heat pump technology is diversified into main categories including air source, ground source, and hybrid heat pumps. These pumps are renowned for their high efficiency, requiring minimal electricity to operate and leveraging environmental heat to provide optimal heating solutions.

Comparing gas boilers and heat pumps

Gas boilers have been the conventional heating solution in the UK, with approximately 17 million households depending on them for their heating needs. However, the adoption of heat pumps is witnessing a gradual increase, with around 30,000 units expected to be installed this year alone. The government is implementing stringent regulations on gas boilers to enhance their efficiency and has planned to prohibit their installation in new properties from 2025 onwards, emphasizing the need for alternative heating solutions.

Installation considerations

Gas boilers:

The installation process of gas boilers is relatively uncomplicated, with a plethora of Gas Safe Engineers available for quick and efficient installations. The availability and accessibility of installation services make gas boilers a preferred choice for many households.

Heat pumps:

Conversely, the installation of heat pumps is intricate and demands more time, necessitating the expertise of specialized installers. The complexity and the involvement of specialized services make the installation of heat pumps a costly affair compared to gas boilers.

Cost analysis

Gas boilers:

The financial aspect of installing gas boilers is relatively moderate, with the average installation cost ranging between £1,500 and £3,000, making it an economically viable option for a majority of households.

Heat pumps:

The installation of heat pumps, on the other hand, is a substantial investment. The cost of installing air source heat pumps oscillates between £8,000 to £15,000, and ground source heat pumps can range between £18,000 and £25,000, reflecting the high initial investment involved in adopting this technology.

Running costs and efficiency

Gas boilers:

Gas boilers, despite their high running costs due to the elevated cost of electricity compared to gas, are preferred by many due to their consistent performance. Modern A-rated gas boilers can achieve around 90% efficiency, ensuring optimal utilization of energy.

Heat pumps:

Heat pumps surpass gas boilers in terms of efficiency, with air-source heat pumps achieving around 300% efficiency and ground-source heat pumps exceeding 400% efficiency. However, the efficiency of heat pumps is highly contingent on the thermal efficiency of the property in which they are installed, necessitating proper insulation and energy conservation measures.

Performance and carbon footprint

Gas boilers:

Gas boilers are capable of providing consistent high heat output quickly but are associated with high carbon emissions, emitting 215 grams of CO2 per kWh of heat delivered, contributing to environmental degradation.

Heat pumps:

Heat pumps, being zero-carbon appliances, offer a sustainable heating solution with lower output temperature. However, their dependency on electricity from the grid, which is not entirely green, is a factor that needs consideration in assessing their environmental impact.

Suitability and future prospects

The decision to opt for a heat pump involves meticulous consideration regarding insulation, existing heating systems, upfront costs, and space availability. The government’s proposed plans and regulatory framework suggest a gradual phase-out of gas boilers, positioning heat pumps and hydrogen boilers as the likely successors. However, the specific requirements and high initial costs of heat pumps make gas boilers a more practical and feasible option for many households at present.

The transition to low-carbon and sustainable heating options is imperative for environmental conservation and to combat climate change. It is crucial to meticulously weigh the benefits, costs, and feasibility of each heating option to make an informed decision. At Padly, we are steadfast in our commitment to providing informed, reliable, and customized heating solutions, ensuring optimal comfort, efficiency, and eco-friendliness for our clients.

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