Heat Pump vs. Boiler – Which Is the Best Option for Your Home?
If you’re in the market for a heating system for your home, then you’re probably interested in the heat pumps vs boiler debate.
Between heat pumps and hydrogen ready boilers, these two heating systems are exploding into popularity, as people look to fit their homes with heating systems that cut down on carbon emissions.
If you want an eco-friendly system in your house, heat pump systems and hydrogen-ready boilers are definitely your best bet.
They both function well at keeping homes warm while cutting down on a person’s carbon footprint. But which of these systems is truly the best?
Let’s take a look at what these systems are, and the differences between them, to settle once and for all what the better choice is: a heat pump system, or a hydrogen ready boiler.
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What is a Heat Pump?
First, let’s define what a heat pump is. A heat pump system is a heating and cooling system that works by pulling heat from the air, water, or ground, to heat the inside of your home.
They are powered by electricity, not natural gas, making them an eco-friendly alternative to other heating methods that utilize natural gas.
There are many different iterations of the heat pump, but the two most common ones you’ll come across are air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps, which both function in different ways.
Air Source Heat Pump
An air source heat pump works by extracting heat from the outside air and using it to heat your home. Outside air will be drawn into the system, heated to your desired temperature, and will move into your space either via a wall unit, or your home’s duct system.
This system can also be used to keep your home cool, drawing hot air from the inside of your house into the system, and expelling it outside.
The process we described above is how an air to air heat pump works. There are also air to water heat pump systems that take in heat from the outdoor air and convert it to water.
This water can be used to heat your home’s radiators or underfloor heating, rather than getting air into your home via ducts or a wall unit.
Ground Source Heat Pump
A ground source heat pump, also called a geothermal heat pump, is more complex than an air source heat pump. This is a home heating system that draws on natural heat that is trapped in the ground outside your home.
It does this via its complex looped tubing system which needs to be buried in the land outside your home and connected to the system’s main unit.
A ground source heat pump can work to both heat and cool a home, either drawing in heat and pumping it into your home, or pulling heat out of your home and expelling it back into the ground.
It works to distribute heat into a home either through radiators or through an underfloor heating system.
What is a Boiler?
Boilers are a popular home heating system and have been used throughout the UK for decades.
A boiler heats up your hot water for taps, showers, and to your central heating system using a fuels source, with natural gas being the most widely used in the UK
- Condensing Gas Boiler: A condensing gas boiler is a common device in the UK, and heats your home using natural gas or fossil fuels.
- Electric Boiler: Electric boilers draw on your home’s electricity, rather than natural gas, to heat your water and home.
- Hydrogen Ready Boiler: Hydrogen ready boilers are an emerging technology that are utilizing hydrogen mixed with natural gas as its primary heat source rather than 100% natural gas. These are now available in the Uk and most new boilers are hydrogen ready. This means that they can also be changed to run on 100% hydrogen in the future.
For the purposes of this article, and focusing on technologies that lower carbon emissions for buyers, we will be comparing the use of heat pumps to hydrogen ready boiler systems.
The Future of Heating
In the UK, many homes are still reliant on heating systems that utilize natural gas to make them work. This results in massive amounts of carbon being released every year from homes in the UK.
The UK Government is currently trying to encourage individuals to turn to low carbon alternatives, to lessen damaging environmental impacts.
As a part of the increased interest in eco-technologies, the UK is pushing for increased usage of heat pumps, as well as hydrogen-ready boilers.
While these technologies are still in development, the implementation of hydrogen boilers could soon become the norm, replacing the millions of boilers currently in UK homes.
When you invest in a new heat pump or boiler, you’re helping to shape a greener future for the UK. If you’ve been looking to make upgrades to your home, investing in one of these technologies is definitely worth your while.
Comparing Heat Pumps and Boilers
Now that we have the basics down, let’s compare these two systems to see which is best for your home.
Pricing and Costs
The biggest consideration for most homeowners when investing in a heating system is the price.
Investing in any heating system won’t come cheap, but there are some big differences in spending when you compare heat pumps and boilers.
Boiler System Pricing and Costs
When purchasing a new boiler, you can expect to spend anywhere from £1,000 – 3,500 for the unit and installation.
Keep in mind the pricing can vary depending on the size of your boiler, the model and manufacturer, exact type of boiler, etc.
Heat Pump System Pricing and Costs
In comparison, a heat pump system tends to be pricier. An air heat pump system can cost anywhere from £6,000-10,000 for the unit and installation.
A ground source heat pump will cost even more, reaching the £9,000-18,000 price range. This higher price is due to the complexity of the unit and its complicated installation, which we will get into below.
For those looking to save money, the boiler is the definite money saver and the winner in this comparison round.
Heat pump vs boiler installation
Let’s talk about installation. The installation of your heat pump or boiler system is important to consider when comparing the two.
Not only does installation impact the overall pricing of these systems, but also your own personal experience in what’s required to get them added to your home.
Boiler System Installation
Boiler systems are fairly simple to install into a home, due to their current popularity. In fact, eco-friendly condensing hydrogen ready boilers are designed to be an easy replacement for existing natural gas boilers.
They are similar in appearance and size, which means it’s easy enough to swap one for the other without needing to make changes to your home.
Hydrogen boilers’ similarity to gas boilers also means the infrastructure to support the switch to hydrogen already exists in the UK.
Converting natural gas pipelines to hydrogen pipelines can be a potential solution to replacing natural gas usage in the UK, which could make them even more worth investing in.
Heat Pump System Installation
In comparison, a heat pump system will require a little more construction work to get them fitted to your home. An air source heat pump is the less complicated of the two systems we described above.
These often only require the setup of an outdoor unit, then some work connecting the system to either a wall unit inside your home or connecting the heat pump to your home’s ducts/radiators.
A ground source heat pump, on the other hand, is much more complicated when it comes to installation. In order to work, the system’s looping tube system needs to be buried underground in the yard of the home it’s connected to.
This means you’ll have to do a lot of groundwork to your property, digging wide and deep enough to get the piping at least two meters underground.
Ground source heat pump systems also need to be connected to either underfloor heating or a home’s radiator system. Because of the complexity of these connections, ground source heat pumps are often recommended for new builds.
The amount of construction work they require for installation makes them harder to add to an existing home. They also can’t be added to homes that do not have adequate land space for the groundwork, making them a bad fit for people in smaller homes.
If you want to pick the heating system that is simpler to install, we have to give it to the boiler once again. A new boiler is easy enough to swap with an existing boiler system, and requires little to no construction work when installing one into a home.
Is a heat pump or boiler more energy efficient?
One of the biggest motivators for people purchasing a heat pump or boiler system is their environmental friendliness.
More and more, individuals are interested in making their homes eco-friendly, finding ways to cut down on their carbon emissions for the sake of the planet. And thankfully, both hydrogen boilers and heat pumps can accomplish this!
Heat Pump System energy efficieincy
While a heat pump system is lower in carbon emissions than traditional natural gas systems, some models can promote minor sources of carbon.
There are also some concerns about the environmental impact of ground source heat pumps. While stable, damages or breakages in the buried coolant lines can have negative impacts on the environment, even if those instances are rare.
Boiler System energy efficiency
In comparison, current gas boilers cause more environmental damage, drawing on natural gas for power. However, a hydrogen boiler produces zero carbon, only producing water and heat as a byproduct.
If you are looking for the option that will bring your carbon footprint way down, the hydrogen boiler slightly beats out heat pump systems.
Heat pump vs boiler lifespan
If you invest in a new heating system, you want it to last! Generally speaking, both heat pumps and boilers do have similar lifespans, making them super comparable. However, they do have some differences.
Heat Pump System Lifespan
Most heat pump systems have a lifespan of 10-20 years, depending on the make, model, and outdoor environment it’s situated in. Maintenance check every 2-3 years can help to expand their longevity, as well as regular care from the system owner.
Boiler System Lifespan
While there’s no way to know the true lifespan of a hydrogen ready boiler, as these technologies are still developing, the average gas or electric boiler has a lifespan between 10-15 years.
Depending on the model, and the regular maintenance the system receives, this number can fluctuate.
If you’re looking for a heating system and value longevity, a heat pump may be the better choice.
However, we have no way of knowing if hydrogen boilers will be longer or shorter lasting until we learn more about this technology in practice.
Both boilers and heat pumps can be expensive investments, but thankfully, Government incentives and heat pump grants can be a help.
The UK Government currently has both a Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, and a Non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive to help home and business owners fit their spaces with renewable energy based systems.
As these incentives cover a wide range of technologies that focus on lowering carbon emission rates, you can use them for both heat pumps and boilers!
This means that no matter what technology you choose, you can receive some help to ease the burden of their price tags.
Is a heat pump or boiler better for my home?
Next, let’s look at how people can use these heating systems. They both operate in different ways and offer different benefits and drawbacks.
Heat Pump System Uses
We love that most heat pump systems can work to replace both a home’s heating system, and act as a replacement for air conditioning.
Both air source and ground source heating systems can send heat into the home to make it warm and draw hot air out to keep it cool.
This can be a huge benefit for some homeowners. When building a new home, you can use a heat pump system as an all-in-one heating and cooling solution.
It can also make for a great addition to homes that don’t currently have air conditioning but already have a heating system that they want to replace.
However, due to their reliance on outdoor air, heat pump systems do not function super well in cases of extreme temperatures. While they can work to keep your home warm, they will struggle to keep up if temperatures drop below freezing.
This means that in the coldest months of the year, your home might need to use another heating system in place of your heat pump if it can’t get hot enough.
Boiler System Uses
A boiler system unfortunately cannot cool the home, but it can work to both heat your home, and heat your water supply.
A boiler system is also not impacted by weather the same way a heat pump is, since it draws on power from within the home and is situated indoors.
This means you’ll have consistent, effective heat all year round. A boiler system can also be better for those who like to keep homes extra toasty, as they can make homes much hotter than heat pump systems, and at a faster pace.
When it comes to which is better in this comparison, it comes down to the individual. Their differences in ease of use make each system better or worse, depending on what your home needs.
Which is Better: Boilers or Heat Pumps?
Now that we’ve looked at some different factors for both these systems, it’s time to finally answer the question once and for all: Should you invest in a heat pump system, or go for a hydrogen-ready boiler?
We have to say that when you compare the two for home heating, the boiler is a clear standout. These systems are reliable, and a staple in homes across the UK already.
Why is a hydrogen ready boiler better?
When looking for a heating system that can cut down on carbon emissions, hydrogen ready boilers are the most promising solution out there in the long term.
A hydrogen ready boiler is better priced for the average homeowner. They would also be easy to implement, taking advantage of existing gas lines for their use.
They don’t require extensive construction to install, and they’re already familiar to most homeowners.
Why is a heat pump better?
In comparison, a heat pump system can be more complicated to install and come at a significantly higher price range. These technologies are unfamiliar to most users as well, which can present a learning curve to those investing in them.
At the end of the day, we encourage anyone looking to invest in new systems like these to do their research. Always get multiple quotes and ask questions, so you can find the heating system that works best for your home, budget, and lifestyle.
If you want to begin to look at boilers, you’ve come to the right place. You can always to read about boilers, compare boiler quotes, and ensure you’re making a well-informed purchase.