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Why get a heat pump?

  • Stop relying on gas
  • Slash your carbon footprint by up to 44%
  • Pair your heat pump with solar panels

Are heat pumps worth it in the UK?

An air source heat pump can save you £4,891 over its lifetime

Ground source heat pumps generate heat at a consistent level all year  

You can currently save 75% on the cost of a water source heat pump

With gas boilers soon to be banned in newly built houses, heat pumps are poised to take up a large part of the slack – and it’s clear to see why. Despite the upfront costs of heat pumps, they can save you money and slash your carbon emissions.

It’s no wonder the government are encouraging people to invest in heat pumps.

They can extract heat from the coldest air, ground, or body of water; they operate so quietly you’ll barely hear them; and they fit neatly on the outside of your home, instead of taking up room inside.

Want to skip the reading? You can compare the best heat pumps on the market by popping a few details about your home in our easy-to-use quote tool. We’ll pass on your details to our expert suppliers, who’ll send you free quotes for you to compare.

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Cross-section of a house showing how a heat pump works, with the heat pump outside showing pipes leading to underfloor heating, a shower, and radiators. The note on the radiator says "heat pumps do work with radiators, but bigger units get the best results."

Are heat pumps worth it?

Heat pumps are usually worth the investment.

An air source heat pump will typically save you £4,891 over its lifetime, compared to a gas boiler – which means you can actually cut your costs by going green.

This is down to a combination of rising gas prices, the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the increasing efficiency of heat pumps, and the need to replace a boiler after 10 years – unlike an air source heat pump, which generally lasts 20 years.

Water source heat pumps can potentially save you even more money on your energy bills, as they’re typically 4.5 times more efficient than gas boilers – and 1.5 times more efficient than air and ground source heat pumps.

Ground source heat pumps will massively cut your carbon emissions, future-proof your house from future boiler bans, and provide you with a consistent year-round supply of heat – but they are significantly more expensive.

When it comes to costs, you should also take into account whether you’ll need to change your radiators or install underfloor heating before you get a heat pump, which could add to your expenses.

Let’s look at each of these factors in turn.

1. The changing cost of energy

Heat pumps are between 300% and 600% more efficient than gas boilers, but they’re powered by electricity, which currently costs four times more than gas in the UK.

However, the times are changing. The price of wholesale gas has risen by 404% over the past 12 months, causing millions of homes to pay hundreds of pounds more every year – and it’s expected to keep climbing.

The average price of gas will be 50% higher in 2030, according to the independent Climate Change Committee – and while gas prices increase, electricity will get cheaper.

The government is taking steps towards removing green levies from the cost of electricity, which would make heat pump running costs much lower.

These changes have made 60% of UK residents want to switch from gas boilers to a renewable alternative.

And you could save even more money by investing in solar panels to supply power for both your heat pump and electricity needs.

2. Government grants

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is the main government grant for heat pumps.

It currently subsidises the installation of air, ground, and water source heat pumps by £7,500.

Considering air and water source heat pumps typically cost £10,000 to buy and install, you could get an excellent machine for a bargain price.

Unfortunately, our National Home Energy Survey found that 73% of people are not aware of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

Thankfully, you’re not among that group, so you can use the scheme to benefit from the fact that an air or water source heat pump will be cheaper overall than a gas boiler.

There are also a handful of other heat pump grants that are available to low-income families across the UK. Want to find out more? Head to our page on government grants for heat pumps.

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Heat pumps against a red house

3. The gas boiler phaseout

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme has clearly been created with the gas boiler phaseout in mind (along with the related target to install 600,000 heat pumps in homes each year by 2028), even though the government has refused to commit to an exact date for the ban.

With the government setting a target of phasing out gas boiler sales by 80% by 2035, it makes sense to take advantage of government initiatives now.

As we approach 2035, companies will inevitably become less enthusiastic about manufacturing new gas boilers for a dwindling customer base, which will result in declining standards across the industry.

If you want to speed up the process of finding your perfect heat pump, just use our quote comparison tool, and our experts will get in touch with their best prices.

Want to get a better idea of what it’s like to own an air source heat pump? Check out our case study with Louise, from South London.

Louise had a 12-kilowatt air source heat pump installed to reduce her reliance on fossil fuels, and received £5,000 off the upfront cost through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. Now, Louise can enjoy a warm, even temperature throughout the house, without fluctuations.

Take a look at the full interview with Louise to learn more.

4. Growing demand and increasing efficiency

While announcing the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the government pointed to the increasing popularity of heat pumps.

“We expect that the majority of applicants are likely to opt for air source heat pumps to transition to low carbon heat, as these are lower cost than other low carbon heat alternatives,” it explained.

“This also reflects the pattern under the RHI, where 81.5% of accredited domestic installations in 2019 were air source heat pumps.”

It’s likely that as demand rises, supply will too, which should significantly reduce heat pump costs over the next few years.

Heat pumps are also becoming more and more efficient. The average rate is 300%, but the top models have already hit 500%, which would net you an even higher amount of energy bill savings over a machine’s lifetime.

Put this together with the imminent gas boiler ban, and it just makes sense to get a heat pump.

How much do heat pumps cost?

Heat pumps typically cost between £10,000 and £49,000, depending on which type of machine you choose.

Air source heat pumps cost between £7,000 and £13,000 on average, though that price can be reduced by £7,500 if your installer uses the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

You’ll typically pay £24,000 for a horizontally installed ground source heat pump – which relies on you having a large garden or field – or £49,000 for a vertically fitted ground source heat pump, which is achieved by drilling boreholes deep into your soil.

A water source heat pump will set you back £10,000 on average, though it does require you to own or have permission to use a body of water.

And thankfully, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme can reduce the cost of your ground or water source heat pump too.

Heat pump running costs

A ground source heat pump’s running costs for a three-bedroom household will typically come to around £939 per year.

The average air source heat pump will cost about the same, though this can vary significantly, depending on where you live in the UK.

Heating methodEfficiency (%)Annual energy use (kWh)Cost (p/kWh)Annual bill
Gas boiler9511,5006.04£694
Heat pump3003,83324.50£939
Oil boiler9211,87511.14£1,337
Electric boiler10010,92524.50£2,676

What are the benefits of a heat pump?

Air and water source heat pumps can cut your costs

A heat pump will massively reduce your carbon emissions

You’ll future-proof your home against the upcoming gas boiler ban

An air-to-air heat pump can both cool and heat your home

Heat pumps are incredibly efficient, can cool and heat your home, and can create energy from air, ground, or water – three completely renewable resources.

There’s a reason why Norway now has one heat pump per 3.4 people.

Plus, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme means you can save money over the course of an air or water source heat pump’s lifespan, compared to a gas boiler.

As well as this financial benefit, you’ll also save at least 1.9 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year by replacing your gas boiler with a heat pump, according to the Energy Saving Trust – a stunning reduction.

Read more about CO2 savings with heat pumps on our page.

You’ll cut at least 2.9 tonnes of CO2 per year from your carbon footprint if you currently have an oil boiler, and even if you use electric storage heaters, getting a heat pump will save you 1.6 tonnes.

And after having your new heat pump installed – with a large, government-funded discount – you can kick back and enjoy the benefits for at least the next 20 years.

Unfortunately, the stigma around heat pumps means only 25% of people would get one if it were free, according to our National Home Energy Survey.

Heat pumps as air conditioners

An air-to-air heat pump can also reverse its entire purpose to provide cool air on hot summer days – and those days are only becoming more frequent.

Instead of taking air from the outside and releasing its warmth into your home, a dual option heat pump can switch it up and remove warm air from inside your house.

What’s more, it can also cool a portion of this hot air and release cool gusts of air into your home, just like an air conditioner.

Can a gas boiler do that? Absolutely not.

Are air source heat pumps noisy?

An air source heat pump is prohibited by the government from exceeding 42 decibels at one metre from a window or door of your nearest neighbour’s home.

This relatively low level of noise is the equivalent of a refrigerator’s background hum, a quiet library, or a suburban area at night.

It may be possible to circumvent the 42 dB limit by applying for special planning permission, but it shouldn’t be necessary, as heat pumps have long been built with this 2012 regulation in mind.

Find out more about how noisy heat pumps are on our page.

The verdict

Air source heat pumps are absolutely worth the investment, especially with the introduction of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

The prospect of saving tonnes of CO2 for the next two decades would be attractive on its own, but the sizable £4,891 saving is a big selling point.

It’s even more appealing when you consider this grant and the upcoming phaseout of gas boilers in new homes will likely be followed with further restrictions to ensure the UK reaches net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

A phaseout of new gas boilers is coming, so you may as well take advantage of government schemes to ease your transition to a greener, cheaper heating system.

If you want to do just that, you can get the best possible deal by filling out this short form, and our best heat pump suppliers will send you free quotes for you to compare.

Are heat pumps worth it? FAQs

The major disadvantage of a heat pump system is the upfront cost.

You’ll typically pay £10,000 for an air or water source heat pump, though this price can be reduced by £7,500 if you use the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

The average cost of a ground source heat pump is either £24,000 or £49,000, depending on whether you choose a horizontal or vertical installation, respectively. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme can cut this cost too, by the same amount.

Your energy bills will typically be higher with a heat pump than a gas boiler, but with an air or water source heat pump, you’ll save money overall.

That’s because these machines last at least 20 years, where as a gas boiler typically needs replacing after 10-15 years.

And as gas prices rise and the cost of electricity starts to come down, you’ll soon pay less to run a heat pump than you would to use a gas boiler.

Heat pumps still work effectively in winter.

A ground or water source heat pump will work at roughly the same efficiency level in winter as they do in summer, because the temperature of soil and bodies of water doesn’t vary much across the year.

An air source heat pump will usually be more susceptible to the cold, but you can still expect it to be around 2.5 times more efficient than a gas boiler during the winter.

Written by:
josh jackman
Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past four years. His work has been displayed on the front page of the Financial Times, he's been interviewed by BBC One's Rip-Off Britain, and he regularly features in The Telegraph and on BBC Radio.
Reviewed by:
Max joined The Eco Experts as content manager in February 2024. He has written about sustainability issues across numerous industries, including maritime, supply chain, finance, mining and retail. He has also written for  City AM, The Morning Star and the Daily Express.
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