As you may know, heat pumps aren’t cheap. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that a typical air source heat pump installation will cost you around £6000 – £8000, and a ground source heat pump installation can cost £10,000 – £18,000 depending on the amount of heat required. The question is, are they worth it? Considering you can receive up to £8,400 from the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for an air source heat pump, and as much as £26,600 for a ground source system – not to mention savings on fuel bills – we certainly think so.
So what’s the reason for this hefty price tag? In this article, we take a closer look at the various costs associated with air and ground source heat pumps, and how they compare with other forms of central heating.
Heat pump prices
Heat pump prices vary considerably. The only way to find out how much it’ll cost for your home is to get an initial survey completed. This is the first potential cost in the process of buying a heat pump.
An installer will come to your home to assess whether your home is suitable for a heat pump or not (ground source or air source). The installer will then leave to put a quote together.
It’s at the installer’s discretion to charge for this initial survey. However you may find, as is often the case, that this service is free of charge.
Ground and air source heat pump running cost
Here’s an idea of what a ground source or air source heat pump’s running costs could look like per kilowatt hour of thermal energy. These figures may not mean very much on their own, so we’ve compared heat pumps compare vs. boilers and other forms of central heating, along with their respective boiler efficiencies.
Heat generator efficiency
Type of fuel
Cost of fuel (p/kWh)
Running cost (p/kWhth)
|Air source heat pump||SCoP 3.36||Electricity||14.37||4.28|
|Ground source heat pump||SCoP 3.36||Electricity||14.37||4.28|
|Electric storage heater||98%||Electricity||14.37||14.08|
p/kWhth = pence per kilowatt hour of thermal energy
SCoP = Seasonal Coefficient of Performance.
Cost of fuels sourced from Energy Saving Trust, correct as of May 2017
As you can see, even with a fairly average SCoP (a unit used for measuring heat pump efficiency), low ground and air source heat pump running costs can drastically cut heating bills for those currently using electric storage heaters (approx. 69% cheaper than what you’re currently paying).
What’s more, a well-designed system with a flow temperature of 40oC or even 35oC in a properly insulated home is capable of achieving an SCoP of 4 and over. Couple that with an Economy 10 or 7 electricity tariff and a savvy approach to using your heat pump (timing it to turn on during off-peak electricity times), and you should see your heating bills drop to lower than LPG or even mains gas bills.
Taking it one step further, generating your own electricity would significantly reduce the running costs of a heat pump. From a consumption perspective, installing solar panels could effectively see your heat pump working at a CoP of 7 or above.
That may sound like a lot of ifs and buts, “but” one of the main issues is that the cost of electricity is high. This issue was raised by Dieter Helm in his government-commissioned “Cost of Energy Review”. At present, the UK is in a period of decarbonising its electricity supply chain. Whilst electricity-generating coal-fired power stations are closing ahead of the government’s plans to shut them all by 2025, it stands to reason that the price of electricity is rising. However, with the cost of renewable technology significantly reducing, and with more solar farms, battery storage and wind farms emerging throughout the UK, the cost of electricity is likely to reduce in the future.
You can find out more about the factors affecting the running cost of a heat pump and what you can do to minimise this cost by reading our in-depth article on saving money by installing a heat pump.
Air and ground source heat pump installation cost
Unsurprisingly, digging up a large portion of your garden does come at a cost. This is the main reason why ground-source heat pump installation costs are considerably more than air source heat pump installation costs. The cost further increases if you install a vertical ground loop system (boreholes).
However, with a ground-source heat pump comes the increased domestic RHI rates, and with it, the quicker payback period. You also get the assurance of maintaining a year-round Coefficient of Performance, unlike with air-source heat pumps that fluctuate through the seasons.
Models of heat pumps have different Total Installed Capacities (a number of kilowatts will be given e.g. “8kW air source heat pump”), so the price is usually compared per kilowatt. As a general guide, the heat pump prices that you should expect to pay are:
Type of heat pump
Cost per kilowatt (parts and installation)
|Air source heat pump||£900|
|Ground-source heat pump||£1,300|
Costs are indicative and are stated for information use only. Figures may vary, does not include additional heat distribution modifications.
Keep in mind that the cost per kW reduces as the Total Installed Capacity increases. For instance, you could be quoted for £1200 per kilowatt to install a small 5kW air source heat pump, but just £600 per kilowatt for a 16kW system. The cost may be greater still if you’re installing a vertical ground loop system.
The installation of a heat pump is often tied in with several other home improvements to keep the overall costs down and to achieve a high efficiency. These improvements can be renovating the garden if it’s a ground source heat pump, or improving the efficiency of the house by installing home insulation.
Perhaps the best improvement to accompany a heat pump installation is underfloor heating. Besides improving the comfort of your home, its large surface area makes it an ideal method of distributing heat evenly. This in turn reduces the flow temperature required, so it’s great for maintaining a high efficiency. The only downside is the upfront cost, which is usually above £2000 depending on the size of your house.
Unfortunately, it’s tricky to give a definitive answer on exactly how much a heat pump system will cost for your house overall. The price is contingent on the individual house, and even very similar properties can have very different heating requirements.
The cost of installation will vary significantly, so it’s always best to gather a number of quotes together from different installers and pick which one is best for you. Get in touch with us today and find an approved installer near you.