Delivery address
Collection branch

What are Heat Pumps and How Do They Work?


Reading time: 5 minutes


How does a heat pump work?

Heat pumps are an energy efficient way of heating your water and home in a sustainable way. These systems, that look much like an air conditioning unit, are designed to produce very little or no carbon emissions and could help reduce your energy bills.

They work by taking the outside heat (thermal energy), either from the air, water or ground, and bring it inside via external pipes containing liquid, otherwise known as refrigerant. The fluid, which is similar to anti-freeze, will always be at a lower temperature than the thermal energy collected, so the heat collected transfers to the liquid in the pipes. This is similar to how a refrigerator works, but in the opposite way.


Although heat pumps use electricity to operate, the amount used is minimal compared to the amount of heat delivered to the property.

What kind of heat pump should I buy?

Heat pumps are suitable for use in many types of property, so if you have a small dwelling or a large office to heat, you should find something that fits your requirements.

Heat pumps collect thermal energy in three different ways: from the air, water or ground - moving the heat from one place to another, rather than generating new heat.

These heating systems still need electricity to work, but they will cost less to run than your normal central heating system.

The efficiency of heat pumps can rely heavily on how well insulated the property is. If there is poor insulation, the heat pump will have to work harder to heat your home - meaning the running costs will be higher. Below we will go through, in simple terms, each type of heat pump.

  • Air Source Heat Pumps
  • Ground Source Heat Pumps
  • Water Source Heat Pumps


How much do heat pumps cost?

The cost of a heat pump can be anything from approximately £4,000 all the way up to £18,000 for the unit alone. However, the cost of these should fall as they become more mainstream. The final cost will really depend on a number of factors: the type of heating system you choose, how large the property is (which will dictate the size of the unit needed), along with the cost of installation by a professional installer. 


So, although the initial outlay of the heating system is higher than that of your standard boiler, the running costs should be considerably lower.


We hope you have found this article useful, and if you need help planning your next heat pump installation, contact your local specialist Plumbing & Heating branch where our experts are on hand to offer you help and advice.


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.

Always refer to the manufacturer's guidance for installation instructions and product maintenance.