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A Guide to High Temperature Heat Pumps

a woman sitting in front of a radiator

A high temperature heat pump can heat your home as quickly as a gas boiler

They’re 250% more efficient than boilers

They don’t require new insulation or radiators, unlike regular heat pumps


High temperature heat pumps may be the future of eco-friendly heating.

All heat pumps can help you cut your energy bills and save the climate – but the standard models often require homeowners to pay for more insulation and larger radiators as well.

High temperature machines can be installed without this extra cost and hassle, and they heat your home at the same speed as a gas boiler. This makes them an attractive prospect.

Here’s how they pull off this impressive trick, and why you should – or shouldn’t – look into purchasing one for your home.

If you want to see how much a heat pump would cost for you, just pop your details in this quote tool to receive free quotes from our expert installers.

a woman sitting in front of a radiator

What is a high temperature heat pump?

A high temperature heat pump is a renewable energy system that can heat your home to the same level of warmth – and at the same speed – as a gas boiler.

Its temperatures can reach somewhere between 60°C to 80°C, which allows you to heat your home quicker than regular heat pumps, without needing to buy new radiators or insulation.

It achieves this feat by using a superior refrigerant to most heat pumps – for instance, Daikin’s machine uses R32, a refrigerant that’s better for your home and the climate.

Why is it better than a regular heat pump?

Regular heat pumps draw warmth from the outside – from the air, the ground, or water – and release it inside at 35°C to 55°C. This is a lower level than gas boilers, which typically run at 60°C to 75°C.

A regular heat pump therefore takes longer than a boiler to heat your home, meaning you need larger radiators to ensure it won’t take forever, and insulation to stop heat from escaping during this process.

High temperature heat pumps operate at the same heating level as gas boilers, meaning you can replace one with the other without having to get new radiators or insulation.

This could save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds in home improvements, and reduce the amount of time that builders will be in your home.

You also won’t have to change your heating habits, as your new system should produce warmth at the same rate as your old gas boiler.

Are there any downsides?

High temperature heat pumps are more capable than regular models – which naturally means that they’re usually more expensive, too.

You can expect to pay around 25% more for a high temperature heat pump, which equates to £2,500, on average.

However, this is a new market, and we’re confident that prices will come down in the near future as more British homes embrace the technology.

The other main downside is that high temperature heat pumps are less efficient than regular models.

While a lower temperature heat pump typically produces three units of heat for every unit of electricity it receives, a high temperature machine will usually provide 2.5 units of heat.

This means you’ll likely spend more on your energy bills with a high temperature heat pump.

You’ll have to weigh this additional cost against the twin benefits of being able to heat your home quickly and not having to get new radiators or insulation installed.

The limited number of high temperature models on the UK market are also slightly heavier than the average heat pump – by about 10 kg – but this shouldn’t make any difference to you.

The science explained

Dr Christopher Wood, an Associate Professor at Nottingham University, told The Eco Experts: “A refrigerant is a liquid that conveniently evaporates at a certain temperature.

“So why are we constrained? Well, by those refrigerants. The pursuit of a high temperature heat pump is the pursuit of a refrigerant that can do this at a higher temperature.”

He explained that “with conventional refrigerants, as the temperature goes higher, the efficiency drops dramatically. That is a function of the process.

“There’s no magic to this; you’re bound by the temperature at which this refrigerant turns from a vapour into a liquid and back again. The higher you go, the more constrained that cycle is.

“The point is: if you’re going to use the same refrigerants at higher temperatures, you’ll be limited. With high temperature heat pumps, you’re looking at a different refrigerant.”

feet on a radiator

Are high temperature heat pumps currently available?

High temperature heat pumps are currently available for residential homes in the UK, thanks to Daikin.

The Daikin Altherma 3 H HT air source heat pump can provide water with temperatures up to 70°C – the same level as gas boilers – and can work when it’s as cold as -28°C outside.

Inside your home, Daikin allows you to choose between getting a wall-mounted unit and a separate hot water cylinder (a setup that will be familiar to most gas boiler owners), or a single, floor-standing unit with an integrated hot water cylinder.

Brands such as ICAX and Pure Thermal also offer high temperature heat pumps, but not for domestic use – unless you live in Buckingham Palace.

However, another competitor is set to enter the UK market, in the shape of Vattenfall, a company owned by the Swedish state. Its machines are being rolled out in a Netherlands pilot this year, before potentially reaching the UK next year.

A Vattenfall spokesperson told us their high temperature heat pump could reach 60°C to 80°C, which would put it at the same level as Daikin’s machine, as well as gas boilers.

The spokesperson also didn't say anything negative about the competition, which we consider to be a good sign when it comes to the company’s integrity.

Vattenfall’s commercial director, Mark Anderson, added: “The high temperature heat pump solution is innovative, simple to install and could be the solution to help decarbonise homes in the UK that are heated using traditional gas boilers.”

How much do high temperature heat pumps cost?

High temperature heat pumps currently cost around £12,500, including purchase and installation.

This is 25% more expensive than standard heat pumps – but that doesn’t factor in the thousands of pounds you could save by not paying for new insulation and radiators.

And the machines are bound to get cheaper as more companies start selling high temperature heat pumps to homeowners.

It’s also positive that Vattenfall has introduced its high temperature heat pump to the Netherlands at the same price – around €15,000 (£12,500).

This is higher than the average cost of a heat pump in the UK – which is £10,000 – but it’s completely in line with the Dutch heat pump market.

That means the company is simply pricing their product at the market average – which a Vattenfall spokesperson confirmed to The Eco Experts.

They said: “When looking at system and installation costs, the high temperature heat pump costs a similar amount to a traditional heat pump.”

A high temperature heat pump will however result in larger energy bills than other heat pumps – around 20% higher, as they’re less efficient than regular models.

They compare favourably with boilers though, as the spokesperson outlined, saying: “Before the energy price increase in the Netherlands, the cost of running the system was similar to running a gas boiler.

“This means the annual electricity cost is not expected to be more than the cost of running a gas boiler and over time the tax on gas will increase and decrease on electricity.

“The system is almost three times as efficient as a central heating boiler, which is somewhat lower than what can be achieved with traditional heat pumps.”

Are all homes suitable for a high temperature heat pump?

High temperature heat pumps aren’t suitable for all homes. Like all heat pumps, they’re usually too big and high-powered for flats or small houses – but they’re suited to more homes than regular heat pumps.

This is because high temperature models don’t require you to replace your radiators or install more insulation – a difficult proposition for many homeowners.

As well as being disruptive and prohibitively expensive for some, these home improvements are impossible to carry out in many listed houses.

Replacing a gas boiler with a high temperature heat pump isn’t as straightforward as getting a new boiler, but it’s much simpler than installing a regular heat pump.

Summary

High temperature heat pumps promise to bring environmentally friendly heat to homes, without the cost and inconvenience of buying new insulation and radiators.

However, they’re currently more expensive to buy and run – by around 25% in both cases, which for most people means spending thousands of pounds more.

As Nottingham University’s Dr Wood told us, “there’s no reason why technological advances can’t be made in this field” – but the price must be right for the customer.

If you want to see whether the price would be right for you, try our custom-built tool. Pop in a few details, and our professional suppliers will then get in touch with their best prices.

josh jackman
Josh Jackman Senior Writer

Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past three years. His work has featured on the front page of the Financial Times; he’s been interviewed by BBC Radio; and he was the resident expert in BT’s smart home tech initiative.

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