Heat pumps, whether they are air source or ground source are becoming a very popular way to heat the home in a renewable and more eco-friendly way. Not only do they take the heat from the air or ground and put it to good use in our homes, but they are convenient and offer a heating solution for homes where gas is not available. For those homes, other heating options can be very expensive.

Despite these great attributes, heat pumps can be hard to buy. They require the help of an expert to ensure that the unit you install will be ideal for your needs. Due to the complex calculations needed to work this out, it is best to have your installation carried out by a Micro-generation Certified installer. This will also ensure you are able to get the government incentives on offer with your unit. However, you will need to know the basics, so you know what questions to ask your installer and to be certain they are getting the right heat pumps for your needs.

  •  Air source heat pump or ground source? Ground source is slightly more expensive than air source and requires a good sized garden for the pipework. You will also need to be prepared for the mess and disturbance this will create. Air source heat pumps offer a more convenient solution, but give less heat in very cold weather. They may also be noisy.
  • What size heat pump? Your installer will work out the right sized pump for your needs based on the size house, the number of people living there, the amount of time the heating will be on and the type of heating system you will be using (underfloor or radiators). Getting the wrong sized heat pump will lead to more use of other forms of supplementary heating and more cost.
  • What is your current heating source? Heat pumps which replace oil or electricity will almost always result in an overall saving. However replacing gas heating is still only worthwhile in certain circumstance. Gas in the UK is still cheap enough to make replacing it with a heat pump an expensive option. However if you simply want to be more eco-friendly, you can’t go wrong with a heat pump.
  • Energy performance. Your heat pump will be judged on its COP (Coefficent of Performance). This measures the amount of energy produced by your unit compared to the energy required to produce it. Obviously the better this is, the more money you will save in the long run. However, you will need to work out if the extra expense is worth that initial investment. An average figure for a year is actually more worthwhile knowing. So choosing a local installer with knowledge of similar systems in your location would give you a better idea.
  • Other extras and features. Your heat pump may come with features which sets it apart for the competition. You may find it worthwhile to compare these. They may include a remote control unit which can be controlled online giving you remote access and the option to use your heat pump to cool your home (effectively run the unit in reverse).

While your heat pump installer will always give you the best heat pump for your needs based on the above factors, you should also aim to be an informed customer so that you are not led astray and end up spending more money than you intended.