Your Heat Pump questions, answered
We’re hot on heat pumps. They’re the most carbon friendly heating solution out there (with 4x the efficiency of a gas boiler), and they’ll save you money on your energy bills. But before you make the switch to low carbon heating, you probably still have a few questions. So we’re here to break down the facts and dispel the myths on heat pumps.
An introduction to heat pumps
Answers to common questions
What to expect from your heat pump home surveyThe survey is an important time to discuss where your heat pump will go and any bespoke needs your home may have.
What to expect from your heat pump installationThe big day has arrived and your heat pump installation is happening. But what does it involve? We talk you through the process step by step.
Is a heat pump right for me?
A heat pump can work its magic in nearly any home, but we're not able to install in all properties just yet. Our mission is to make green heating simple, accessible, and affordable for all - as quickly as possible - and this means that we're targeting houses that already have the ideal set-up for a standard heat pump first. If your home isn't ready just yet, we may recommend some changes to insulation or radiators at an extra cost, or we'll give you a time frame for when we'll be ready to install your heat pump.
Our heat pumps start from £3,000 for a standard installation (including the government grant). For larger or more complex homes, costs will be higher, but virtually all our quotes are less than the national average of £8,000.
For more information on whether your home is suitable and how much it will cost fill out our no-obligation form, and we'll get in touch to let you know if your home is heat pump ready.
Heat pump myths busters
🔥 Heat pumps are really noisy
Thankfully this just isn't the case 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 metre). That's roughly the same as a fridge freezer or a gas boiler and because they're outside, most people won't even notice.
🔥 They won't work when the temperature is below freezing
Air source heat pumps can actually work in temperatures as low as -20 °C! In Norway, one of the world’s coldest countries, every other home has a heat pump (so they must work pretty well). When it gets very cold, the heat pump will need to use a bit more energy than usual to keep your home cosy, but fortunately we only see temperatures below -10°C a few days per year, and even then, a heat pump will still function more efficiently than a gas boiler.
When comparing, in a survey of our heat pump customers, 87% said they were satisfied with how comfortable their home heating was, compared to 75% of those with gas boilers.
🔥 A heat pump is more expensive to run than a gas boiler
On a standard tariff the average home would save around £187 a year with a heat pump. We've explained more about how much they cost to run here. There are even more savings to make if you consider switching to a smart tariff, ditching gas boiler cover and gas standing charge.
🔥 They need a lot of maintenance
A heat pump can last 20 years – about twice as long as a boiler – and they need less pricey maintenance. Our installations include a 5 year warranty for your heat pump (when serviced annually), and 2 year warranty for hot water tanks and radiators installed by us. If you'd still like extra peace of mind, check out our optional market-leading service plans.
🔥 The heating quality isn't as good as gas heating
Before installation we do a thorough home survey to ensure the heat pump system we install is optimised for your space. When surveyed, 90% of our customers said the warmth from their new heat pump was either just as comfortable or even more comfortable than their old boiler.
🔥 Heat pumps are just too expensive
With the Government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme, a heat pump may be more affordable than you think. 90% of our heat pump quotes beat the UK's average cost of £8,000, and when including the government grant, can be installed at a comparable cost to a gas boiler + installation. If you have a larger house or a non-standard installation, this will increase the price - see our FAQs below for info on additional costs. Get a cost estimate here.
More questions? We've got you covered:
How much does a heat pump cost?
We’ve been working hard to optimise our processes and supply chain to bring heat pumps to you at the lowest price possible. 90% of our heat pump quotes are lower than the national average of £7,904. Our standard installation costs range from as low as £3000 including the Boiler upgrade scheme (similar to a gas boiler system), when including the £5,000 Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant (which BEIS publish monthly on their website). It can cost more if you have a larger home or non standard installation - we'll let you know if your cost estimate. Find out more about potential additional costs in our Do I need insulation?' Do I need radiators?and Other costs we may factor into your quote FAQs below.
We'll be able to let you know exactly what you need and how much it costs after your no obligation home survey.
How does a heat pump work?
Heat pumps harness energy from the environment (either the ground, or air around your home). They then use that energy - alongside a smidge of electricity - to heat the water in your pipes, and so your home. If you’re interested in finding out more, you could watch this helpful video, or if you want to dive a little deeper, our lead heat pump boffin Peter explains more in this dedicated blog post.
Which homes are you installing in at the moment?
Heat pumps can work in nearly all homes, but as we continue to scale our offering, we’re focussing on installations in the types of homes that are best set up to get a heat pump immediately. By targeting these homes first, it means we can ramp up installations more quickly, and get the process down to a fine science, then we’ll start in homes with slightly more specialised needs. It's not an exact science but generally we're focussing on homes below 200 square meters from the 1930's onwards, which is most UK homes. 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 much room does a heat pump 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), it needs a space of around a meter infront and to each side to breathe. Inside you need space for a hot water tank, which is 2m x 1m x1m (the size of a modern fridge freezer), which you can place on the ground or first floor of your home (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!)
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 if a heat pump is a good fit and see if we have an installer in your area. You'll receive a call from us where we will give you a rough cost estimate. If you decide to proceed, 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, which will include any available grants. If you accept we'll book you in and complete your installation (which usually takes 3 - 5 days).
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 includes most 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 Pump runs at a lower temperature than a typical gas boiler (which makes them greener and cheaper to run), but this may require larger radiators to be installed to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Most homes need a couple of radiator upgrades, our Surveyors will confirm any radiator changes required during your home survey, and we can install them at the same time as the heat pump. It’s worth mentioning that heat pumps also work well with wet underfloor heating (dry underfloor heating doesn't work with a heat pump).
Other costs we may factor into your quote
Aside from insulation and radiators, there are a couple of other things that may need to be factored into the price of your quote. Below are 3 examples of this:
If any part of your home was built before year 2000
If your home was built before the beginning of the 21st century, it’s possible that we may need to check for asbestos before doing any work on the property. Generally an asbestos check is around £50 and removal is around £300. We’d only need to remove the asbestos if we’re planning on doing direct work on what may be asbestos. Such as drilling through ceilings or removing a boiler/water cylinder that contains it.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral that occurs naturally in specific types of rock. Due to its durability, fire-resistance, and relatively low cost, it was used in the manufacture of thousands of products, particularly building materials up until 1985, when it became known that asbestos poses serious respiratory health hazards to people who are exposed to even a small amount of airborne fibres. The HSE has guessed that all buildings constructed before the beginning of the 21st century may contain asbestos in the UK.
For the majority of homeowners, you no longer need to worry about applying for planning permission to install a heat pump. However there are still a few instances where you might need to.
The MCS Planning Standards (MCS 020) stipulate that noise levels for an air source heat pump on its own must stay at or below 42 decibels (dB) if a metre distance away from any habitable room. We will test the noise levels on our home survey and where the total noise pollution from the heat pump must not exceed 42 dB to the nearest neighbours window. If it does, you’ll need to get planning permission approval. Planning permission applications will, on average, cost around £250 (subject to your local planning department). This can exceed £1200 if your council require a BS4142 Noise Impact Assessment. So we try our best to avoid any location where this is necessary.
When a hot water cylinder is located above the ground floor, it is sometimes required for us to set up scaffolding in order to connect the heat pump to the hot water cylinder. This would generally be on instals where we are running the pipework up externally on the wall. Depending on your space requirements and type of property, scaffolding can cost between £500-£800.
What does a ‘standard installation’ mean?
A standard installation includes everything you'd need for a typical 3 bedroom home :
- Expert no obligation consultation & home survey
- A heat pump (up to 7kW) from a leading brand, on a ground level external wall
- A hot water cylinder (Up to 200L) in the place of your existing one
- Copper pipe (Up to 12m) and electrical cabling (up to 15m) connected to your existing plumbing and fusebox
- Up to 9 days of engineer time to install your system
- System flush, chemicals and magnetic filter to keep your system running smoothly
- 5 year warranty on parts and labour
Every home is unique though so that is why a survey is essential to assess yours.
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 a gas boiler!) and of course they're outside, so most people don't even notice it.
Do I need to be an Octopus Energy customer to get a heat pump installed with you?
Nope! We’re on a mission to decarbonise heating - anyone can get a survey and installation with us, even if you’re not an Octopus Energy customer.
Why aren’t Octopus Energy installing heat pumps in my area yet?
We’re really proud of the progress we’ve already made on our journey to make low carbon heating available for more people in England. By the end of 2022 we will have hired and trained 100's of heat pump engineers to roll out installations. However, we’re still growing as a team and this means that we have had to start in the areas where we have engineers available.
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?
The cost to run a heat pump 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 £187 less a year to run than a gas boiler, and they can be much cheaper if you use a smart tariff to make the most of cheaper "off peak" power. Finally, if you factor in some of the other costs you might get rid of by ditching a gas boiler, like gas boiler cover and the gas standing charge, that could be another couple hundred pounds a year. We’ll give you a personal cost breakdown, so you can see how much your new heat pump is likely to cost (and compare that to your current boiler) before you decide to get one installed. We'll also recommend the best tariff for 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. Our heat pump service plans start from £9 per month and we can help you set that up for you post installation
Should I wait for a RED (renewable energy device) heat pump?
The acquisition of RED is part of our long-term ambition to reducing costs and making heat pumps accessible to as many people as possible. Our partnership won’t be available in the market for a while, but until then we can still install some of the leading heat pump brands in the UK at a similar cost to a gas boiler (£3k - £4k) thanks in part to the government grant which will expire once it reaches their funding limit. So, if you’re interested we would strongly encourage you to register your interest with us for a heat pump as soon as possible at https://octopus.energy/heat-pump/register/
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