Is my property suitable for a Heat Pump?

There are many factors which must be considered before choosing to install a heat pump system in your home or business.

An important aspect to consider is your property’s specifications. In the case of a ground source heat pump, you will need an outside space - usually around twice the surface area of the dwelling - which you do not mind digging up in order to lay the ground loop containing the heat fluid. If you do not have such a space or if you do not want to dig up your garden, it may be best to consider an air source pump system, which is much more compact and more suited to urban areas.

Your property’s level of insulation will impact heavily upon the cost and energy efficiency offered by air and ground source heat pumps. New build and newly renovated properties, which are fitted to high energy efficiency standards, are therefore ideal for the installation of heat pumps.

Your current heating and hot water source also has an effect on the financial rewards of renewable heat systems. For example, if you are replacing an electric, liquid gas or solid fuel system with a heat pump, the financial benefits are likely to be reasonably high.

However, a recent Energy Savings Trust field report found that some air and ground source heat pumps which were installed in place of mains gas systems offered little or no financial return compared with conventional heat sources.[1]

 

Property value impact associated with installing a ground source or air source heat pump

Will a heat pump increase my property value?

Although there is currently little definitive evidence to suggest either way, the low aesthetic impact and financial benefits of heat pump installations mean that their presence is likely to increase property value.
Most people can appreciate the cost savings of a high efficiency heating system and will certainly consider things like heating systems when looking to buy a property.
There are many different kinds of heating systems used in homes. You’ll find that the systems are classified in a few different ways. The first way is by the type of fuel they use and the second is the way in which they actually distribute it throughout the home.
These fuel sources include oil, natural gas, electricity and even the sun. The heat generated by these fuel sources can be distributed by air, electric wiring, radiation or water.
The value put on the heat pump system by the estate agent or by the future buyer will most likely be down to personal preference and a few other factors such as the temperature at the time of sale and recent seasonal variations. If there has been a very cold winter, people are more likely to put a high value on a pre-installed heating system that is cost effective and adequately heats the property. If two identical homes were side by side a buyer would most likely go for the home with the heat pump system, but how much extra will they be willing to pay to cover your costs, usually in excess of £5000 pounds that the heat pump system set you back in the first place? Well it’s impossible to say at this time. A new roof for example doesn’t add much to your property but an old or damaged roof will certainly detract from the value of a property. So perhaps a new heat pump system might not add much value but an old inadequate gas boiler system may detract from a property’s value. Make sure your estate agent knows the value of the heat pump system and sells it to the prospective viewer in the best way possible. A real estate appraiser will most likely see your heat pump system as a contributory factor and add a small amount of value to the asking but price but generally they will see it as part of the whole and describe it as adding appeal.

 [Further reading] “In October 1999, an American publication, ‘The Appraisal Journal’ released an article titled More Evidence of Rational Market Values for Home Energy Efficiency.  This article describes a study that used regression analysis to find the affect that energy savings have on the value of home.  Their results from several years of analysis consistently show that the value of a home increases by $20 for every $1 reduction in annual utility bills.  Although this data is several years old, it can still be used to create an argument that geothermal systems increase the value of a home by significantly reducing annual utility costs.”

 

Integrating a Heat Pump with existing systems.

It is most common to completely replace existing heat sources with heat pumps. Nonetheless, depending on the system and property specifications, air and ground source heat pumps can be integrated with existing heating systems. The heat generated by your heat pump system can, for example, be used to supplement your boiler.

While heat pumps can be easily connected to existing radiators, this is not the most effective way of utilising the heat generated, for they require a high level of heat. If you currently use radiators to heat your home, the best way of optimising system efficiency is therefore to install under floor or warm air heating, since these require a lower level of heat over a longer period of time. Under floor heating may not be suitable for some properties, however: some older buildings in particular are likely to be too energy inefficient.

 

Legislation and planning permission associated with air and ground source heat pumps

Ground Source heat pump planning info

Due to their limited aesthetic impact, ground source heat pumps are likely to be considered ‘permitted development’ by local authorities, which means that no planning permission will be necessary. It is nevertheless always a good idea to check with your local authority prior to installing any renewable energy technology.

Air Source heat pump planning info

In Wales and Northern Ireland, air source heat pumps are not considered permitted development and will require planning permission.

In England, air source heat pump systems will be considered permitted development provided they meet the following criteria:

  • the proposed installation site must not be located in the grounds of a listed building or in a conservation area
  • the pump unit must not be placed on a pitched roof       
  • the unit must be placed more than one meter from the edge of the property
  • the pump unit must be smaller than 0.6 square meters

The permitted development rules for air source heat pumps in Scotland are as follows:

  • the heat pump must be the only one at the property
  • the unit must be 100 meters from any other dwelling
  • the unit must not be visible from a public highway
  • the proposed installation site must not be located in a conservation area or World Heritage site

In England and Wales, you can find out more information on the Government’s Planning Portal website: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/planning/greenerhomes/generation/heatpumps

The Scottish Government’s permitted development information can be found here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/planning/National-Planning-Policy/themes/HouseholderPDR

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