Heat pumps are suitable for all property types and architectural eras a new study by the Electrification of Heat (EoH) project has found.
Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the project looked at homes from Victorian mid-terraces to pre-WWII semis and a 1960s block of flats to establish if heat pumps can effectively heat a myriad of buildings.
According to the Energy Systems Catapult – which was appointed to lead the Management Contractor consortium of the EoH – the project’s findings thus far show that the suggestions that there are “unsuitable” homes for heat pumps is not supported by experience or data.
“This trial demonstrates that low-carbon heating systems are an effective alternative for homes of all types and ages. As technology continues to improve and costs plummet over the next decade, they will become the obvious, affordable choice for consumers,” said energy and clean growth minister, Lord Callanan.
Three Delivery Contractors were appointed to install up to 750 heat pumps across three regions in Britain as part of EoH. Warm works were appointed for the South East of Scotland where it is working with the Energy Savings Trust and Changeworks, E.ON was appointed for Newcastle where it is working with Newcastle City Council and Your Homes Newcastle and Ovo Energy was appointed the South East of England where it is working with Kaluza, RetrofitWorks, Parity Projects and SunAmp.
The recruitment and installation phase of the project ran from July 2020 until October 2021, with 742 heat pumps installed across a broad spectrum of housing types and socio-economic groups despite challenges from the pandemic.
Low-temperature and high-temperature air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, hybrid heat pumps incorporated with a gas boiler as well as some additional technologies such as heat batteries were all used for the project.
While there was some small shortfall in the number of pre-1945 property installations, this was within planned tolerances. It does suggest that there are still challenges with installations in older properties, but with 163 installs going ahead successfully these challenges are manageable.
Of the properties that formed part of the project, 80% were previously connected to the gas grid and were predominantly fueled by mains gas for their heating.
“The Electrification of Heat project is helping us understand the customer journey, installation and performance of heat pumps across Britain and the role that different heat pump technologies will play in different types of homes and places,” said Richard Halsey, capabilities director at Energy Systems Catapult.
“There is the opportunity for innovation to ensure heat pumps can deliver great heating experiences and operate efficiently as part of a smarter energy system.”
With the installation phase now complete, EoH will continue to monitor the systems and the experience of the households involved to inform the next steps for getting homes “heat pump ready”.
Heat pumps are expected to be the primary heating technology for new homes going forwards according to the government, with new build homes expected to have 30% lower carbon emissions than current standards.