The UK government is encouraging people to install heat pumps over traditional Gas Boilers for several reasons, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable living.
Both Boilers & Heat Pumps have their advantages and disadvantages. Installing the right heating system for your home is an important decision affecting your comfort, energy bills, and carbon footprint.
This article provides a comparison between these two systems to help you make an informed decision based on factors such as cost, efficiency, and property type.
What are Boilers?
Boilers are a type of heating system that uses water to transfer heat. They work by heating water in a central unit and circulating it throughout the home via radiators or underfloor heating systems.
There are three main types of Boilers:
- Combination (combi)
Combi Boilers provide both central heating and hot water on demand, whereas System and Regular Boilers store hot water in a separate cylinder. Gas, Electricity, Oil or LPG power Boilers.
What Are Heat Pumps?
A Heat Pump transfers heat from one location to another. They extract heat from an external source, such as the air, ground, or water, and move it into your home to provide heating.
Heat pumps come in three types: Air Source, Ground Source, and Water Source.
- Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) extract heat from the air
- Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs) extract heat from the ground
- Water Source Heat Pumps (WSHPs) extract heat from water
When it comes to energy efficiency, Heat Pumps have a clear advantage over Boilers.
Heat pumps can achieve efficiencies of over 300%, producing more than three times the amount of heat energy compared to the electricity they consume.
This is due to their ability to extract and utilise heat from renewable sources, such as water, the air or ground.
Boilers are limited by their fuel combustion efficiency. For modern condensing Boilers, the maximum efficiency is typically around 90-99%, while older, non-condensing Boilers may have efficiencies as low as 60-70%.
Heat Pumps can use significantly less energy than Boilers to provide the same amount of heating, resulting in lower energy bills and a reduced carbon footprint.
The initial costs of installing a Boiler or Heat Pump varies depending on your property’s size, the installation’s complexity, and your location.
Boilers are cheaper to install than Heat Pumps, with costs ranging from £1400 to £3000 for an installation.
Heat Pump installation costs are higher, ranging from £7000 to £12000, depending on the type of Heat Pump and the complexity of the installation. Government grants of £5000 are available for those eligible to help cover the cost.
Air Source Heat Pumps are usually the least expensive, while Ground Source Heat Pumps and Water Source Heat Pumps are generally more costly due to the need for ground or water source excavation.
In addition to installation costs, it’s important to consider the ongoing costs of operating a heating system.
Boilers typically have higher running costs than heat pumps due to the cost of fuel, such as Gas, Oil and LPG.
These fuels’ prices fluctuate over time, affecting the overall cost of heating your home.
Heat pumps, in contrast, use electricity to operate, which is generally more stable in price than fossil fuels.
Heat Pumps require less maintenance than Boilers, which can help reduce long-term costs.
However, it’s essential to factor in the cost of electricity in your area when comparing running costs.
Another consideration is the heating system’s efficiency, as more efficient systems generally have lower operating costs.
As mentioned earlier, Heat Pumps have higher energy efficiency than Boilers, which can significantly save energy bills over time.
System Lifespan & Maintenance
The average lifespan of a boiler is around 10-15 years, depending on factors such as maintenance, usage, and unit quality.
On the other hand, heat pumps have an average lifespan of 15-20 years, with some units lasting even longer.
Like Boilers, regular maintenance is crucial for ensuring the longevity and efficiency of a heat pump. However, Heat Pumps require less maintenance than Boilers, which can contribute to lower long-term costs.
Boilers require servicing annually, while Heat Pumps need Servicing once every 3-5 years.
Heating Performance and Comfort
When comparing heating performance and comfort, it’s important to consider each system’s heating output and temperature control.
Boilers typically provide a high heating output and precise temperature control, resulting in a comfortable and consistent indoor environment.
Heat pumps, however, may need help to maintain consistent temperatures in extremely cold climates, as their efficiency and heating output can decrease at low outdoor temperatures.
Heat pump systems may require a backup heating source, such as an electric fire, to compensate for this.
Suitability And Compatibility With Existing Systems
Before choosing between a Boiler or a Heat Pump, it’s important to assess the compatibility of each system with your home, which will largely depend on your type of home and its age.
Boilers are generally more compatible with older homes and properties with the existing radiator or underfloor heating systems.
They can also be an appropriate choice for apartments, where space constraints may limit the installation options for heat pumps.
On the other hand, heat pumps may be more suitable for newer homes with energy-efficient insulation and airtight construction.
They can also be an excellent option for rural properties or those without access to natural gas, as they only rely on electricity for operation.
It’s always best to consult with professional Gas Safe Registered heating engineers to determine the best heating system for your needs and property.
Boilers Vs Heat Pumps Summary
In summary, both Boilers and Heat pumps offer unique advantages and disadvantages regarding cost, efficiency, and heating performance.
Heat Pumps tend to be more energy-efficient and have lower operating costs.
Boilers are cheaper to install and maintain. They also provide better heating performance and are compatible with most existing systems.