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Should I replace my oil boiler with a heat pump?

There has been a lot of coverage in the press recently about a new government incentive to encourage homeowners in England and Wales to switch to heat pumps and this has left a lot of people, especially those in rural homes, asking a key question - should I replace my oil boiler with a heat pump? We take a closer look.

What is a heat pump and how does it work?

In the simplest terms, a heat pump is an electrically powered device that is able to absorb heat from the air, ground or water around a building.

Air-source pumps suck in outdoor air and pass it over tubes containing refrigerant fluids to produce heat. Essentially, they use the same principle that a refrigerator does.

Will a heat pump save me money?

One of the big concerns for UK homeowners is rising fuel prices. This, naturally, is leading many people to question whether switching from an oil boiler to a heat pump could save them money on heating expenses.

There are a couple of factors to consider here. Despite fluctuating prices, oil and gas do currently remain the most cost-effective way to heat most homes. There is also no reason to believe that the current price rises will be sustained in the long term as energy reserves are good.

Because heat pumps rely on electricity, it is difficult to predict if they will eventually work out cheaper - and the government is unwilling to commit to this. With this in mind, if your objective is to save money, you may not yet see the desired return on investment.

The decision is more about reducing your household’s emissions.

Is my home suitable for a heat pump?

Another key factor to consider is whether your home is suitable for a heat pump. The first factor to look at is whether your have a suitable location to fit one outside your property. Although the unit itself doesn’t require any more space than an oil boiler, ground source heat pumps require a borehole up to 100m deep or a large horizontal system dug into the ground.

Internal installation is also not always straightforward. You will need space inside for a heat pump unit and hot water cylinder, and you may also need bigger radiators or to dig into floors. This can be difficult and expensive.

It is also worth bearing in mind that for a heat pump to be effective, your home needs a high level of insulation, and this is not always possible to achieve in older homes.

Am I safe to stick with oil?

The good news is that while the government is encouraging homeowners to consider switching to alternative heating solutions, oil boilers are going nowhere in the near future and will continue to be one of the most common ways of heating rural homes.

New oil boilers are already being designed ready to accommodate more environmentally fuels as they become available, and even if they are gradually phased out, you can be assured that a new oil boiler will enjoy a full working life.

Thinking about replacing your oil boiler? For expert advice and a free quote, get in touch with D.R. Plumbing & Heating today. Call now on Wrexham 01978 291 923 or Mold 01352 620 125.

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