The decision of heat pump v gas boiler can be a difficult one. To to make an informed choice, you need a proper understanding of the the pros and cons of each option. Whilst gas boiler is usually the cheaper option in terms of purchase costs, installing a heat pump – either an air source heat pump or ground source heat pump – can help to reduce your carbon footprint, boost energy efficiency, as well as reducing energy bills.
In this article, we’ll run through some of the pros and cons of both gas boilers and heat pumps, helping you make the right choice for you.
Which is the better heating system: Heat pump or boiler?
It’s not always easy to know which heat source is right for your property. Should you stick with a traditional gas boiler, or install a modern heat pump? To help you to make your decision, we’ve weighed up some of the most important factors that you’ll need to consider during your decision-making process.
1. Upfront cost
When it comes to upfront cost, a gas boiler and central heating is typically cheaper than a heat pump, and that includes both an air source heat pump or a ground source heat pump (usually the most expensive particularly because the installation groundwork required is more extensive). Gas boilers are faster and easier to install, as well as the raw materials being less costly, to begin with. However, it’s important to consider the lifespan of the boiler or heat pump, as well as the ongoing costs, such as running costs and maintenance, before making your final decision.
2. Running costs
It’s essential that you weigh up the running costs of whichever heating method you choose. After all, you need to know what you’ll be paying for your energy in the long term. Heat pumps are usually the much cheaper option when it comes to running costs. This is because heat pumps are powered by electricity, rather than gas, as well as being more efficient than gas boilers.
You can further reduce the running costs of a heat pump by installing solar panels on your property. This means that your heat pump will be largely powered by solar energy during daylight hours, helping to keep your running costs to a minimum.
3. Environmental impact
The environment is an ongoing concern in the modern world, so there’s no wonder that many people are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Installing a heat pump system is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon emission and do your part in protecting the planet.
Again, you can further reduce your carbon footprint by installing solar panels on your property and using this renewable energy to power your heat pump whenever possible.
4. Product lifespan
There’s no point in investing in a heating method for your home if it’s unlikely to last more than just a few years. For this reason, it’s important to understand the expected life span of your boiler or heat pump before making the decision to invest.
Typically new gas boilers will last for 10-15 years before needing to be replaced. In contrast, heat pumps have an average lifespan of 20 years, with some heat pumps lasting up to 25 years before requiring replacement.
5. Ongoing maintenance
Finally, it’s essential that you consider ongoing maintenance requirements before making your decision. Whilst gas boilers require an annual service to ensure that they are operating safely and efficiently, heat pumps have lower maintenance requirements. This means that your heat pump will typically only require a service every three to five years. This is because heat pumps have less components and do not pose a threat to safety if anything goes wrong. So, your ongoing maintenance requirements will be lower if you opt for a heat pump.
6. Space requirements
Traditional boilers don’t take up much space. This is particularly the case with combi boilers which do not require a hot water cylinder. This makes gas boilers well-suited to small properties where space might be limited.
In contrast, heat pumps require a larger amount of space. This is because heat pumps require both outdoor spaces, as well as indoor space for the indoor unit and a hot water cylinder. So, if you’re considering having a heat pump installed on your property, you’ll need to ensure that you have enough space available for the equipment.
Pros and cons of heat pumps
Before you can make an informed decision about the right way to heat your home, you need to consider both the pros and cons of heat pumps. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of installing a heat pump on your property.
Advantages of heat pumps
There are many benefits of having a heat pump installed on your property, from reducing your energy bills to helping to minimise your environmental impact. Here are some of the advantages of heat pumps:
- Reduced energy costs – Heat pumps can help to cut your energy bills as they are cheaper to run than a traditional heating systems like a combi boiler. They allow you to not only heat your home but also heat water in a cost-effective way.
- Eco-friendly – Installing a heat pump will cut your carbon emissions as they are highly efficient, allowing you to do your part for the environment.
- Prioritise safety – Heat pumps are considerably safer than gas boilers, minimising the risk of accidents occurring.
- Reduced maintenance – Compared to gas boilers, the maintenance requirements of a air source and ground source heat pumps are much lower, so you won’t need to worry about scheduling annual services.
- Extended lifespan – A heat pump can usually last for up to 25 years, which is double that of a traditional gas boiler. This gives you peace of mind, as a replacement will not be required for many years.
- Funding available – Heat pumps are becoming increasingly more affordable, and to encourage households to make the switch to more energy efficient options, there are some free funding incentives available, so you may be able to save money on your heat pump installation by claiming a heat pump grant.
Disadvantages of heat pumps
Although there are many advantages of heat pumps, there are also some disadvantages that you need to be aware of too. Here are some of the disadvantages of heat pumps:
- Upfront cost – Heat pumps typically have a higher upfront cost than a traditional gas boiler. This is because the installation of a heat pump is more complex than simply replacing a boiler.
- Complex installation – As we’ve just mentioned, heat pumps, especially ground source heat pumps, are more complex to install than gas boilers. This means that your installation will take longer, typically spanning several days rather than a single day. It could also mean disruption to your property or garden, depending on the extent of the pipework that is required.
- Efficiency – Air source heat pumps are less efficient during the cold winter months, when there is less heat available to extract from the air. Whilst heat pumps will still operate in temperatures below freezing, they are less efficient, using more electricity to generate heat.
- Electricity usage – Although heat pumps are more environmentally friendly than gas boilers, they still require electricity to run. This means that they aren’t completely carbon neutral.
- Planning permission – Whilst planning permission isn’t required in most cases in England and Scotland unless the property is listed, you may require planning permission if you live in Wales or Northern Ireland.
Pros and cons of gas boiler
There are also many advantages and disadvantages of installing a gas boiler in your property, whether it’s a new installation or a direct replacement for your existing boiler. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of having a gas boiler installed on your property.
Advantages of gas boilers
Although heat pumps are rapidly increasing in popularity in the UK, there are also many people that prefer to stick to their traditional gas boilers. Here are some of the benefits of heating your home with a gas boiler:
- Reduced space requirements – A combi boiler doesn’t take up much space – in fact, they can often fit inside a cupboard. This makes boilers ideal for use in properties where space is limited.
- Quick installation – A replacement boiler can usually be installed in a single day, so there is usually minimum disruption and you won’t have to wait overly long for your new boiler to be installed.
- No planning permission required – Gas boilers do not require planning permission for installation, whether you’re in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. This simplifies the installation process, as you won’t need to seek permission from your local authority.
- The traditional option – In the UK, the majority of households are used to using gas fuel boilers as part of their central heating system. Traditional boilers have been the norm for many years, so many people prefer to stick to what they are already familiar with.
- Not reliant on the weather – A traditional boiler is powered by gas. This means that your boiler will be unaffected by the weather outdoors, retaining the same level of efficiency in all seasons.
- Funding available – There is funding available for boilers too but unfortunately Heat Pumps UK can’t help you secure it. You’d have to go through another company like ZOA ECO Grants.
Disadvantages of gas boilers
Although there are advantages of the traditional gas boiler, there are also some disadvantages that you need to be aware of before making your choice. Here are some of the disadvantages of gas boilers:
- Increased carbon emissions – Traditional boilers are powered by gas. Over a third of UK gas usage comes from home heating, creating more than two tonnes of CO2 each year. This demonstrates the impact that gas boilers have on the environment.
- Annual servicing required – Gas boilers require annual servicing by a Gas Safe registered engineer to maintain their efficiency and ensure their safety. This is an ongoing cost that needs to be budgeted for when you opt for a gas boiler.
- Reduced lifespan – Whilst heat pumps can last for up to 25 years, gas boilers will typically only last for 10-15 years. This means that you’ll need to replace your gas boiler twice as often as you’d need to replace a heat pump, increasing the associated costs.
- Potential safety concerns – Whilst a properly maintained boiler should operate safely, gas boilers can become dangerous if things go wrong. That’s why it’s recommended that you have a carbon monoxide detector to identify potential gas leaks.
- Increased energy costs – As the name suggests, gas boilers are powered by gas. This means that they are more costly to run than an economical heat pump, so you’ll typically pay more for your energy bills.
Is a heat pump more efficient than a gas boiler?
As energy prices continue to rise, this leaves many people wondering whether a heat pump is more efficient than a gas boiler. After all, you don’t want to have to pay over the odds for your energy bill.
The good news is that heat pumps are typically considerably more efficient than a traditional gas system boilers. This means that your energy bills are likely to be less if you opt for a heat pump to heat your home and your hot water instead of a gas boiler.
If you want to keep your energy bills to a minimum, it’s worth considering a renewable energy source alongside your heat pump. For example, if you install solar panels on your property, your heat pump can be powered by the solar panels during daylight hours, further reducing your energy bills.
The heat pump v gas boiler verdict
For many years, gas boilers have been seen as the traditional way to heat your home and your hot water. However, in recent years, heat pumps have soared in popularity, thanks to their eco-friendly credentials, as well as their ability to reduce energy bills. Although heat pumps are becoming more popular, the UK is still lagging behind European countries such as Norway, where over 60% of properties are heated by a heat pump.
When it comes to heat pump v gas boiler, there are many factors that you’ll need to consider to ensure that you choose the right option for your property. These include cost, installation time, environmental impact and the space that you have available. It’s important to make the right decision for your home, as your heat pump or gas boiler will be heating your property for many years to come.