There are three kinds – ground, air and water-source - and while they might cost between £6,000 and £17,000 to install, the investment will eventually save you money thanks to its reliance on free and renewable energy. Ground source heat pumps extract warmth from the earth and use it to heat your home or hot water. The pump is connected to a series of pipes buried in the garden and can be used in all seasons, although a back-up heating system might be needed in winter.
Air source heat pumps take heat from the air outside, increase its temperature and use it inside the home. There are two types: air-to-air pumps and air-to-water pumps. The former produce warm air and circulate it through fans. Air-to-water pumps supply your home’s central heating system. Air source heat pumps can work at temperatures as low as -15C outside, but tend to become less effective when under -5C, so another form of heating may be necessary in the depths of winter.
While you should be able to cut your home’s CO2 emissions by fitting a heat pump, it will depend on what you’re replacing. According to the Energy Saving Trust, heat pumps are most likely to reduce emissions and bills when replacing a coal, electric or LPG heating system, although they should cut emissions when replacing any system powered by fossil fuels. There is an upfront price to pay, but if suppliers continue to increase their bills as steeply as they have been, it may be worth it.