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Witten by Bernard Morgan (Engineer).
First Published: February 6, 2024. Updated: February 7, 2024

Heat Pump vs Gas Boiler

With rising energy costs and environmental concerns there are ways to reduce carbon emissions and save money. Below we explore the differences between heat pumps and boilers. We hope to help you make an informed decision for your home heating needs.

Heat Pump vs. Gas Boiler (or LPG, or oil)

Viessmann Vitodens 100-W - Heat Pump vs Gas Boiler | Boilerhut

Most UK homes rely on natural gas boilers for heating. Alternatives like LPG and oil are the most comparable to natural gas. There are also more eco-friendly options, like hydrogen and heat pumps.

What’s the difference?

Both heat pumps and boilers provide heat. Heat pumps use electricity, which can be sourced from renewable sources. Boilers burn natural gas, LPG or oil. Natural gas an LPG are fossil fuels. Heating oil is mostly fossil fuel. However, bio-oils are being worked on that could see natural and renewable oils being created.

Choosing Between Heat Pumps vs Gas Boilers

Consider the pros and cons of each system to determine the best fit for your home heating needs.

Heat Pumps Explained

Heat pumps extract heat from the air or ground. They work like a reverse fridge. It offers renewable and cost-effective heating solutions, especially when paired with underfloor heating.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Heat Pumps:

Alpha Magis Heat Pump Range - Heat Pump vs Gas Boiler | Boilerhut

Pros:

  • Renewable heating systems, reducing carbon emissions.
  • Potentially lower running costs due to lower flow temperature.
  • Effective heating comparable to traditional boilers with proper insulation.
  • Compatible with underfloor heating.
  • Safer option, reducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Qualification for the Renewable Heat Incentive
  • Ideal for homes not connected to the gas network.

Cons:

  • Space requirements for fan installation or garden trench for ground source heat pumps.
  • High installation prices based on the chosen heat pump model.
  • Long recovery period exceeding 10 years for installation costs.
  • Higher winter running costs due to increased electricity usage.
  • Elevated electricity costs compared to gas.
  • Constant high whirring noise during operation.
  • Reduced heat compared to boilers, potentially requiring more room radiators.
  • Home insulation costs may apply.
  • Potential need for new windows if heat loss is significant.
  • Space constraints for smaller homes may limit outside unit installation.
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Gas Boilers:

Pros:

  • Lower installation costs compared to heat pumps.
  • Various boiler types available to suit different needs.
  • Hydrogen-ready boilers can operate on 20% hydrogen
  • Combi boilers offer on-demand hot water and heating.
  • System boilers can supply hot water to multiple taps simultaneously, ideal for larger homes with a hot water cylinder.
  • Rapid heating capability, keeping homes warm during winter.
  • Long lifespan.
  • Easy installation and maintenance.

Cons:

  • Increasing operational costs over time with brands that use aluminium heat exchangers.
  • Reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Requires space for hot water cylinder with system boilers.
  • Gas and LPG – Non-renewable energy source.
  • Carbon emissions.

Installation Complexity

Viessmann Air Source Heat Pump - Heat Pump vs Gas Boiler | BoilerhutGas boilers have simpler installations than heat pumps, making them faster and more readily available.

To add complexity, if you want to qualify for the £7,500 government grant, there are many rules you need to follow. You can see most of them here. But in summary, your home will need to be as insulated and energy efficient as possible.

These rules will ensure a heat pump is installed correctly. However, it’s not a quick process. If you are without a boiler right now, it is wise to replace the boiler and consider heat pumps in the future.

Installation Costs

The average cost of a natural gas boiler installation is anywhere from £2,600 to £4,000+. This will obviously depend on size and boiler specification etc.

A heat pump is much higher. An air source heat pump will cost at least £10,000 to install, with the average being around £14,000.

Ground source heat pumps cost an average of £31,500. It’s high because it will involve a lot of digging and burying pipework in gardens.

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Running Costs

Worcester Bosch Boiler Instalaltion - Heat Pump vs Gas Boiler | Boilerhut

Gas boilers have lower running costs due to cheaper gas prices. Heat pumps offer efficiency but depend on factors like good insulation and energy tariffs.

Servicing a heat pump is relatively easy as they’re mostly closed systems (think fridge). But fewer engineers are qualified to do it meaning the price is higher than with traditional gas, LPG and oil boilers.

Conclusion

When it comes to heat pumps vs gas boilers it really depends on many things.

Gas boilers provide faster installations and lower running costs, making them ideal for immediate heating needs. Heat pumps, on the other hand, offer potential long-term savings and environmental benefits, particularly in well-insulated homes.

Consider your home’s needs and available space when deciding between heat pump vs gas boiler. Often, replacing an old boiler with a modern, highly efficient boiler using the same fuel is the most cost-effective option.

The cost of heat pumps, especially air source heat pumps, is likely to come down over the next few years to make them more affordable. You just may be waiting a while.

Can you wait that long, or are you ready to start installing a heat pump? If so, contact us to review heat pump installation requirements.

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