Before you start...
If you're thinking about installing a system to generate your own heat, make sure your home is as well insulated as it can be so your heat-producing system can be most efficient.
Stop wasting energy; start taking action! This is the section to get you started on energy-saving, whether it's changing your habits or improving your home – save energy and save money!
The better insulated your home is, the less money you'll spend heating it. Find out more about different types of insulation, including draught-proofing, double glazing, and insulation for lofts and walls.
The latest on energy-efficient boilers to save you energy and money, and the right controls to use as little energy as possible, whatever the age of your boiler. No boiler? Find out about controls for electric systems too.
Renewable and low-carbon technologies are good for the environment and good for your pocket too - with government financial incentives, it’s never been a better time to install. Find out more now!
Get inspiration for your own community projects from a range of case studies in PDF and video format; find extensive advice about funding your project; and explore our range of project tools.
Information, advice and resources about energy-saving travel – how you can avoid using the car, and how to drive more efficiently when you can't avoid it.
Using a heat pump for the first time will mean becoming familiar with quite complex controls - but unless they are used correctly, your heat pump cannot perform at its best.
Our field trial of heat pumps found that, although overall household satisfaction with the warmth and comfort provided by a heat pump was very high, many householders have difficulty understanding the instructions for operating and using their heat pump, which impacts on performance. Although heat pump controls should get simpler, this guide is designed to help you get the most out of the heat pump you have now, whether it has just been installed or was installed some time ago.
The standard system controls for a heat pump are an adjustable controller and a room thermostat. They may be separate units or they can be combined.
The controller may either be an integral part of the heat pump (common in the case of ground source heat pumps) or a separate unit (common in the case of air source heat pumps) fixed to the wall within a few metres of the heat pump. If your heat pump provides hot water as well as space heating it is likely to have a two-channel controller for which will allow different temperatures and times to be programmed for each.
The controller is used to:
Your installer should programme your heat pump using the controller as part of the commissioning process. They will do this in accordance with their calculation of the heating requirements of your home taking into account a number of factors including the times of the day you require heat and hot water. If they do this correctly you are unlikely to need to touch the controller, particularly if it has been designed to automatically adjust to outside temperature changes. Because heat pumps usually work at lower temperatures than other types of heating system it is normal for certain makes of heat pump to be set so that they are on continually or for longer periods than you might otherwise expect (to allow for a slower warm-up time).
The room thermostat is used to:
In order to get the most from your heat pump you can also look at installing and making use of additional heating controls such as thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) if you have radiators installed as part of your heat pump system. However, seek advice from your installer on this.
Monitoring your energy consumption will enable you to calculate whether your heat pump is achieving the SPF estimated by your installer and if it is not, whether any adjustments to your system are required. In order to obtain a complete picture you should monitor both your electricity bills and any other fuel still used for heating and hot water such as gas or oil.
There are a number of online tools that will help you keep a record of your energy consumption. Most require that you input meter readings on a monthly basis. They include:
Unless you previously used electricity to provide your space heating, your electricity bills will increase once you have a heat pump installed, because the heat pump uses electricity to run the pump and compressor. Your reduced bills for heating should make up for this, but it's still worth ensuring you are getting the right tariff at a competitive rate.
If you were previously using night storage heaters and were on an Economy 7 or 10, this may no longer be appropriate. Economy 10 could be ideal if you have a well- insulated home with underfloor heating (not radiators) mounted on a screed that can act as a thermal store. We recommend you discuss with your installer or site manager the most appropriate tariff to use with your heat pump and how to set your controls to make the most of it.
Cost comparison websites let you shop around for the cheapest electricity tariff in your area: these include
As part of the handover process that will take place after your heat pump has been commissioned, the installer should advise you about the maintenance requirements and maintenance services available for your heat pump. In order to get the most out of your heat pump you will need to comply with these requirements, although you can expect very little maintenance to be required if a well-designed heat pump is installed properly.
An annual service of both types of heat pumps may be a requirement of a warranty remaining in force.
If you have an air source heat pump you are likely to be advised that a yearly visual inspection should be carried out to check that the air inlet grill and evaporator are free of leaves or other debris. Any plants that have started to grow near the heat pump unit will also need to be removed.
You may also be advised by your installer to check the central heating pressure gauge in your house from time to time. If so, you should be shown how to do this.
The Ground Source Heat Pump Association website advises that there is no need for safety checks for ground source heat pumps and that routine maintenance requirements are very low.
Unfortunately, there are occasions when things do go wrong. For example, you might find your home is not as warm as you would like or you are using more electricity to heat your home than was anticipated. Sometimes these problems are down to something relatively minor (such as how you are using your heat pump or the settings on the controller) and for this reason we recommend that you initially try and resolve the issue directly with your installer, if you are a private home owner, or your landlord or housing manager if you are a tenant.
Any installation carried out under MCS (MIS 3005v3) has an appeal route through REAL, all installers having to sign up to the REAL Code. Read the code at the REAL website.
Go to the Heat Pump Association website for a wealth of useful information, including a glossary of heat pump terms and lots of case studies on heat pumps in different types of home.
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