Heat Pumps

How do I buy a heat pump?

Buy heat pump

You might think that swapping to a heat pump would be a stressful ordeal. In actual fact, the right installer could have your new air source system up and running in a matter of days given the right circumstances.

It’s the role of the installer to make buying and installing heat pumps as quick and pain-free as possible. That’s why MCS-certified installers are the safest option, as they have a strict procedure to follow – not only will they give you an in-depth breakdown of the cost, paperwork and installation procedure, but MCS certification is also required if you plan on claiming any payments from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

What do I need to prepare for the installer?

Prior to the installer’s site visit, there are a few things to prepare so that the installer can draw up an accurate proposal:

  • A valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): Providing you’ve had an EPC carried out within the past 2 years, the installer will make an estimate of how much you could receive from the RHI as a part of the quote.
  • A minimum of loft or cavity wall insulation: The RHI requires one or both of these insulation measures to be installed in order to receive payments (your EPC may suggest either of these). There are a few exceptions to the rule e.g. if the building has a solid wall or there are protected species living in your loft.
  • Recent energy bills spanning the past few years: The installer may recommend a specific unit of heat pump based on your current heat demands, one that will give an ideal balance between operating costs and upfront cost. Try to provide at least 2 years’ worth of energy bills to account for irregular temperatures (If just a year’s worth of energy bills were used but that year included an uncommonly warm winter, the installer would be using faulty data to select a heat pump).

What will happen during the site visit?

The first site visit is mainly to check whether your house is suitable for a heat pump. Some won’t charge a fee for the site visit, but that’s left to the installer’s discretion, so this may be another cost you’ll have to factor in.

For an air source system, the installer will ensure the ambient air flow is sufficient around where the external unit is to be sited, and that there’s enough distance from any adjacent properties so the noise from the unit won’t be a disturbance.

For a ground source heat pump, the installer will need to confirm that there’s adequate room for both the ground loops and siting the equipment needed for the installation. To get enough heat into your home, you’ll need roughly double the area in the garden for the underground pipework than the combined floor space of all storeys in your house.

The installer will then review the property, gathering all the data needed to carry out the heat loss calculation. They may also suggest cost-effective ways of upgrading your emitter system and insulation depending on your home.

What will I receive in my quote?

The proposal will give you an informed estimate of the cost:

  • Upfront cost of heat pump and insulation / emitter system upgrades
  • Current heat loss calculations for your home
  • Annual and total income from the RHI
  • Current and predicted monthly fuel bills
  • Total cost of the installation after 7 years of receiving RHI

If you are happy with the proposal and sign the agreement, the installer will arrange a date to begin installation. Air source heat pumps are relatively straightforward to fit, with installations lasting 2-3 days in most cases. Ground source systems take a little longer to install for obvious reasons – these usually take over a fortnight before they’re ready to use.

Once the installation is complete, the installer will commission the system as required and register the heat pump on the MCS database. The customer is issued with the handover pack, instruction manual, warranty and MCS certificate. The installer will also supply all the documents needed to apply for the RHI, but it’s down to the customer to apply for the RHI themselves. Not all installers offer maintenance contracts, as they’re not strictly necessary.

If you require any assistance finding a local MCS-certified installer near you, we’re happy to help.

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