Recommendations from our heat pump field trials

The Energy Saving Trust's heat pump field trial is the most wide ranging monitoring exercise of domestic heat pump installations and customer feedback undertaken to date in the UK. The trial was launched in July 2008 to monitor the performance of 83 heat pumps installed in UK homes for a period of at least 12 months. It was then extended for a second year for additional monitoring. Final results will be released later in 2012.

The initial findings illustrated that heat pump performance is highly dependent upon appropriate installation and integration with the building’s existing heating system, as well as appropriate control by the customer.

The report provides a number of key recommendations for customers interested in purchasing a heat pump.


Considering a heat pump

You should consider a heat pump if you live in a new-build property, or in a well-insulated existing property that cannot access the gas network.

Heat pumps have the potential to reduce running costs compared with oil, direct electric, LPG, or coal, and can provide substantial carbon savings over the lifetime of the installation.


What to expect from a heat pump

  • Since heat pumps provide a lower temperature heating compared with boilers, radiators will be warm rather than hot.
  • A house with radiators may heat up more slowly.
  • The heat pump will run for longer hours than a conventional boiler but if properly controlled will switch on and off with the heating requirements of the house.
  • A properly sized and installed heat pump should be able to provide all of a household’s domestic hot water, but many systems are installed with a supplemental electric immersion heater.

Getting the best performance from a heat pump

  • Ensure your dwelling is insulated as well as possible (for example with cavity wall and loft insulation) prior to a heat pump being installed.
  • Install the heat pump with low-temperature under-floor heating or properly sized radiators.
  • Insist on understandable, user-friendly controls.

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.

Focus on improving insulation and tackling draughts.