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Heat Pumps Vs Gas Boilers


Reading time: 6 minutes


How we heat domestic and commercial properties is changing, but that’s nothing new. However, today’s heating challenges aren’t just about making a place warmer, but we must consider how efficient the system of heating is, reducing the cost of bills. For this reason, we will be seeing more heat pumps being installed in new and existing builds over the next few years, but what does that mean for property owners and bill payers?


What’s the difference between a heat pump and a boiler?

A boiler can send heat to radiators quickly at high temperatures. Heat pumps give a more gradual increase in temperature, which means a slower climb in temperature. This is particularly effective in larger spaces as the heating is more steady as it spreads throughout the room. Underfloor heating really benefits from this method as it covers more space than individual radiators.


Are boilers being phased out?

There have been recent headlines about ‘banning’ boilers because of this inefficiency, and that might lead us to believe that we have to remove all existing boilers. This isn’t the case. From 2025, no new build properties will have gas boilers installed. Any home or commercial property built before this time may look to introduce a different method of heating over time. This can be a different, more energy efficient boiler type, or an alternative method like a heat pump. 


Can you fit a heat pump in all properties?

When we see pictures of heat pumps, they are often shown as big boxes on the side of buildings, which can be unsightly or bulky. However, different types of heat pumps have been fitted in properties ranging from detached houses to apartments, including flats and even pre-war properties. 


Do you need planning permission to fit a heat pump?

For the majority of heat pump installations, it’s unlikely that you’ll need planning permission. Although, it’s still advisable to contact your local authority to check planning permission for heat pumps, as this could avoid any complications later on. 

There are certain guidelines that can be referred to for heat pump installation, with key points such as:


  • Air source heat pumps should be at least one metre from the boundary of the property

  • You cannot fit heat pumps to a pitched roof

  • Heat pump compressors and their housings must not be larger than 60 cubic centimetres

  • The property is in an area of natural beauty or on protected land

Again, do check your local authority to make sure.


Is it cheaper to run a heat pump?

The actual running of a heat pump is cheaper than a gas boiler, which works through a combustion system. This is because the heat is drawn from either air or the ground, so not as reliant on fuels. This is great in the long term, however the costs of installation can be high, which may mean it can take a while for a heat pump to pay for itself. That said, it can be an investment over time. Although heat pumps can require service, it’s less frequent than boiler maintenance, and even less expensive (depending on the issue).


Are heat pumps noisy? 

With any heating system, it’s impossible to completely get rid of some noise while it’s working. The same is true of heat pumps. When there’s a lot of noise, this can be down to poor installation, but it’s fair to say that ground source heat pumps are a bit quieter than air source heat pumps. This is because of the consistent temperature from the ground itself, so the compressor doesn’t run at a higher power capacity. 

Air source heat pumps may run at a little more of an inconsistent level. That said, professional consultation and insulation of an air pump should limit noise levels, so they shouldn’t be too distracting. 

In the near future, heat pumps will become more and more common, especially as boilers will no longer be part of new build properties. With constant changes to the construction industry, it can be challenging to keep track. That’s why we’re here with updates and advice covering everything from site safety to home maintenance.


Disclaimer: The information contained on this page is intended as an overall introduction and is not intended as specific advice from a qualified professional. Travis Perkins aims to avoid, but accepts no liability, in the case that any information stated is out of date.