How Octopus Energy is revolutionising Heat Pumps

Our global green investments

We're on a mission to decarbonise UK homes, starting with one of the biggest carbon culprits: home heating.

We think heat pumps are the answer.

A tried and tested technology, nearly 4 times more efficient than a gas boiler, and powered on increasingly greener electricity.

We're using technology to make them simpler and cheaper for UK homes, investing £10m in the UK's first heat pump R&D & training centre and training an army of green installers so we can deliver heat pumps around the same price as a gas boiler.

Be one of the first to try Octopus' heat pumps

We've already helped hundreds of customers on their journey to low carbon heating. We're initially focussing on the most standard homes in London, the midlands and the south east but we'll be spreading our tentacles to cover more homes and more regions later this year.

If you’d like to join us in the race to decarbonise heat, register using the link below and we’ll let you know as soon as we're offering heat pumps in your area!

Why do we love heat pumps?

An illustration of a heat pump

Heat pumps are almost magically efficient. They use a small amount of electricity to take natural, low-level heat from the air outside and condense it to generate significantly more heat in your home. They can turn 1kWh electricity into up to 4kWh of heat - that's 4x more than even the most efficient gas, electric or oil boilers!

This means already, you'll use roughly 1/4 of the carbon emissions you'd use with a boiler, but better yet, this will fall to zero carbon emissions when the grid goes 100% green.

Because they're so super efficient they require much less renewable energy than other alternatives (like pure electric boilers) and due to their inherent flexibility they can actually help reduce peak loads on the grid.

This interview with our heat pump boffin Peter gets into the nitty gritty of why heat pumps are so great.

What's been holding heat pumps back until now?

For a long time, heat pumps were a cottage industry, with only a few small, specialist installers, who may not have the scale or technical know-how to deliver an affordable heat pump solution for the masses. We're applying our resource and expertise to do just that, to help build a greener future for everyone.

We're investing to drive the heat pump revolution

We've invested £10m in the UK's first heat pump R&D & training centre. It's the home for all our heat pump training, research and development, where we build new innovations to deliver heat pumps to more homes at a fraction of the cost.

How are we bringing heat pump costs down?

Our massive R&D centre contains two full-size homes, which have been carefully built to represent the design of about 40% of homes in the UK. Here, our engineers can practice doing real-life installations and find new ways to streamline the installation process (meaning you pay for less time on site).

To tackle installer scarcity, we’re training an army of 1,000 green heat engineers (double the current UK capacity). As more engineers are trained and installations are scaled up, the price is expected to come tumbling down.

A graphic showing the fan on the side of a heat pump

On the product side, we're working with manufacturers to strategically source key components and build a much more efficient supply chain, which will help to slash material costs.

What’s more, our team of engineers and scientists and are working hard to develop new innovations to help tackle some of the traditional challenges with heat pumps, to make heat pumps the "no brainer" replacement for gas boilers.

Thanks to our cost reduction programme and the government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme, we are now starting to offer heat pumps at similar cost to a gas boiler for most homes

Heat pumps can get even cheaper when combined with smart energy tariffs

We're also testing and trialling how heat pumps can be integrated with innovative smart tariffs like Agile Octopus to get even cheaper running costs. Heat pumps already cost around the same to run as gas boiler on average but we've found customers on a smart tariff can save up to 30% on their bills by running their heat pumps in the greenest, cheapest periods of the day.

Home heating cost competitiveness: comparing heat pumps to gas

Agile/ Fixed Heat pump cost comparison (Feb'22)

That's with the tax distortion that exist at the moment - if environmental taxes were more fairly distributed across gas and electricity (something we're pushing hard for and government have committed to review in their Heat and Building Strategy) - savings would be even greater.

Be one of the first to try the Octopus solution

We've already helped hundreds of customers on their journey to low carbon heating. We're initially focussing on the most standard homes in London, the midlands and the south east but we'll be spreading our tentacles to cover more homes and more regions later this year.

If you’d like to join us in the race to decarbonise heat, register using the link below and we’ll let you know as soon as we're offering heat pumps in your area!

Heat Pump FAQs

Do heat pumps work in all homes? (spoiler: almost!)

×

Most homes are already suitable for heat pumps as they are - you only need an outside space big enough outside to park a moped. We're gearing up to install on a large scale but we're initially focusing on really common types of UK homes: 2-4 bed, well insulated ones from the 1930's onwards.

Heat pump solutions for flats aren't quite there right now, but there are still other greener solutions - check out Tepeo's Zero Emissions Boiler or Next Gen's electric wallpaper, which you can find out more about on our Works With Octopus programme.

How much space do I need?

×

The outside bit of a heat pump is roughly 1m x 1m x 2m (or to help you visualise - the size of a moped) and an inside hot water tank, which is 2m x 1m x1m (the size of a modern fridge freezer), which you can place anywhere in your home like a cupboard or loft (although the closer to the outside the better). However, new space saving technology is being developed all the time, so expect this to come down considerably in future (more on this to follow!)

Do I need insulation?

×

Insulating your home is always a good idea, as it means whatever boiler you have will work more efficiently. Generally homes with an Energy Performance Certificate Rating of D and above, with at least a couple of types of insulation (wall, loft or double glazing) should be well insulated enough already, which is most of the homes in the UK. If not you may have to insulate first, which is usually quite straightforward (cavity wall insulations costs around £500 and takes 4 hours on average) and we can help arrange this for you..

Do I need radiators?

×


Heat pumps work a different way to gas boilers - they still keep you as warm, but they don’t burn gas for a quick burst of heat, and instead suck the heat from air so the heat and build warmth over time. In an average sized room (usually about 3 meters by 4 meters) your standard twin wall radiator setup should be more than enough. Occasionally, you might need to replace a smaller radiator with a slightly larger one, or if you have any really big rooms, you might need a few extra. Again it’s quite straightforward (it typically costs around £200 and an hour or so to fit) and we can do this at the same time as a heat pump installation.

Are heat pumps noisy?

×

No! This is a bit of a heat pump myth, which just isn't true with modern units. The main engine of a heat pump is something called a compressor, which does generate a bit of noise but there are strict regulations on how loud this can be (around 40 - 60 decibels within one meter). That's roughly the same as a fridge freezer (or even a gas boiler!) and of course they're outside, so most people don't even notice it.

Do heat pumps still work when it's really cold outside?

×

No problem. Heat pumps are really popular in the Nordics (where it’s pretty cold), which shows they work well even when it’s below 0. They have a fluid inside them which absorbs heat even in extremely low temperatures of -20 °C. When it is very cold outside, the heat pump can’t extract quite as much energy from the atmosphere as usual – which means it has to use a bit more electricity, or in other words is a bit less efficient - but your home will still be able to get to warm, cosy temperatures. It’s a bit like a gas boiler - when it’s colder, you’ll burn more gas. We see temperatures below -10°C only a few days per year, and even at these temperatures, heat pumps still function more efficiently than gas boilers do.

What's the process to get a heat pump with Octopus Energy?

×

Once you’ve registered your interest, we’ll do some initial checks to check a heat pump is a good fit and see if we have an installer in your area. When we’re good to go, we’ll send a Low Carbon Heating Surveyors round to do a detailed assessment of your home (which normally takes around 3 hours). We’ll give you a quote for your new system including any grants available. If you accept we'll book you in and complete your installation (which usually takes 3 - 5 days).

Do I need to be an Octopus Energy customer to get a heat pump installed with you?

×

Nope, anyone can get a heat pump installed with Octopus!

What heat pump models do you recommend?

×

We work with a range of leading heat pump manufacturers to ensure we can provide the best quality products to suit a number of different property types at the lowest possible price. Once our Low Carbon Heating Surveyor has completed their home survey they’ll be able to tell you what make and model we recommend for your home.

How much will it cost for an Octopus Energy heat pump?

×

We’ve been working hard to optimise our processes and supply chain to bring heat pumps to you at the lowest cost possible. At the moment we’re focussing on 2-4 bed, well insulated homes from the 1930's onwards (over 50% of homes) which are the simplest and quickest to install, to keep the costs low and maximise the impact of our green installation team. For a standard installation in these homes, it should cost around £8,000 - £9,000 including all materials and labour. When you combine that with the government’s £5k grant from the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, that’s around £3,000 - £4,000 total cost (similar to a gas boiler system).

Why won’t you install a heat pump for me? I really want one

×

We all have a huge task ahead of us to decarbonise heating. The main thing we can do to have the biggest impact on climate change is focus on the homes which are quickest, simplest and cheapest to install initially, which are 2-4 bed, well insulated homes from the 1930's onwards. If you don't meet this criteria we may not be able to help you right now, but we will get around to you as soon as possible and if you really can’t wait, we can suggest other installers you can speak to.

How does the Boiler Upgrade Scheme work?

×

The government is launching a new scheme called the Boiler Upgrade Scheme from April, which means you can get a £5,000 grant towards the cost of installation. To qualify, you need to have an Energy Performance certificate from the past 10 years that demonstrates you meet their insulation criteria (which most homes do). We’ll be able to check this for you and if you qualify, process the grant and deduct this from the cost of your installation.

How much does a heat pump cost to run?

×

This depends on a number of things like how big your home is, how well insulated it is and how much heating and hot water you need. On average, we found that a well installed heat pump costs around the same to run as a gas boiler and they can be much cheaper if you use a smart tariff to make the most of cheaper "off peak" power.

The good news is you don’t have to figure this out yourself - we’ll give you a personal cost breakdown, so you can see how much your new heat pump is likely to cost (and compare it to your current boiler) before you decide to get one installed. We'll also recommend the best tariff your new heat pump installation.

What about maintenance costs?

×

Another benefit of heat pumps is they are generally cheaper to maintain, as they operate at much lower temperatures and have fewer moving parts than a gas boiler. They also have a longer life expectancy of 20 years + (vs 10 - 15 years for a gas boiler). Most heat pumps will come with a labour and parts warranty as standard, but just like a car requires an annual MOT for its insurance, you'll need to make sure they're checked annually for your warranty to be valid. It costs around £100 for a service and we can help arrange that for you.

Published on 29th October 2021 by:

image of Aimee Clark

Aimee Clark

Green heating expert

Hey I'm Constantine, welcome to Octopus Energy!

×