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New boiler or heat source pump?

101 replies

WilbursWinnie · 28/03/2023 20:38

So, our boiler has packed up! At least it's on the way into summer and not the start of winter!

So, do we buy a new boiler or should we be looking into a heat source pump or alternative eco friendly solution?

I have this fear that buying a new boiler is the wrong thing to do but I'm not really basing this on anything.

Full disclosure: our house is an old brick building that is not currently well insulated. it is rural and we currently have oil central heating.

What would you do and why?

OP posts:
StillWantingADog · 16/04/2023 17:55

what garbage

most UK housing stock isn’t readily suitable

some of it is, but in many cases a serious investment is needed to make them work well. The government needs to be vetted at communicating this and crucially make sure that all new house building is done with heat pumps in mind. Far easier to build a house for a heat pump than put one in retrospectively.

whatever your views on climate change - and you are wrong btw -
gas is a limited resource and we have to move away from it

RollerCoaster2020 · 16/04/2023 18:36

Hydrogen is being trialed as 20% is mostly northwest. Unfortunately it says science fact that hydrogen atoms are smaller than natural gas so infrastructure will need to change to accommodate where it is built to legacy standards. This is quite a huge infrastructure change.
Heat pumps (ashp) are pretty much proven to be inefficient in temperatures below about four degrees centigrade. Ground source heat pumps (gshp) can get much better results whether they are vertical or horizontal depending on where one lives. The first step is to insulate insulate and insulate. Make one's home airtight with suitable ventilation, maybe via heat exchange fans. That's the only way you're gonna bring your bill down from 1800 pounds a year to 400 pounds a year...

TizerorFizz · 16/04/2023 18:45

Houses still need to breathe! Airtight houses are not a good idea. We have a lot of loft insulation but air vents in the roof lining.

StatisticallyChallenged · 16/04/2023 19:08

These days a lot of people would be bloody delighted to see £1800 a year...£400 barely covers dual fuel standing charges!

RidingMyBike · 16/04/2023 20:13

onefinemess · 16/04/2023 17:51

Get a boiler, heat pumps DO NOT work in the UK.

The reason they don't work is because our housing stock isn't compatible and can't be easily altered to make heat pumps effective. Would you pay 100k to insulate an old hous, and another 15k to install a heat pump, just to "save" a few grams of CO2?

The environmental argument for CO2 caused climate change has long since been shredded. Climatology people now say "can lead to" or "is believed to cause" because they know there in no actual proof that CO2 affects the climate.

It accounts for 0.004% of the atmosphere, and saving CO2 is about as effective as using a coffee cup to empty the Atlantic.

Get your boiler OP.

WHERE on earth are these figures from? They're wildly inaccurate, unless you're trying to insulate a medieval mansion or similar?!

We've had one installed recently, into a 1930s house, along with insulation and new windows (both of which we'd have had to have done anyway as they weren't done/were failing). We've spent a tiny fraction of that amount. Certainly not £100,000 Confused.
More like £100s for the insulation. To put in double glazing was about £10k. Many homes already have it.

The heat pump itself was about £7k, including the £5k grant, so cost us £2k.

jeffwhit · 16/04/2023 21:06

it Is quite funny why all taxpayers need to pay for someone’s heatpump

if that thing really that good

i have no comment if I don’t have to pay for someone for their fancy new toy

BishopRock · 16/04/2023 21:49

Get a boiler, heat pumps DO NOT work in the UK.

You're not a plumber/ gas heating engineer are you?

Nat6999 · 16/04/2023 22:55

TizerorFizz I watched a lot because my mum will soon need a new boiler & was trying to find out if it would save her money. I know someone who fits them for a living & even he says that unless you have a house with the latest specification insulation fitted then don't bother because you won't be as warm as with a good condensing boiler, better to get the latest gas boiler that can be converted to hydrogen when it comes online in the future.

poshme · 16/04/2023 23:17

People who say they aren't noisy- I think some people are more affected by noise than others. And also- if there is a a lot of background noise where you live (roads/places etc) you won't notice an ASHP at all.
We're rural and off gas and considered ASHP. Quote was £15,500 including upgrade to radiators etc. very well insulated house with double glazing. New LPG boiler £2,500.
It was an easy decision. I am very sensitive to noise, and 'similar to a fridge' - well I have a modern fridge and the noise annoys me. I know when the electric toothbrush in the en-suite is plugged in Because I can hear it. An ASHP would wake me up. (The outside fan rather than the internal bit)

TizerorFizz · 16/04/2023 23:26

It really wouldn’t! We have 2 large ashp. We don’t hear them unless we are 10 ft away from them and then it’s cold air emissions we notice. They are round the back of the garage. We don’t sleep near them! If you are rural you don’t need them that close to the house. Ours are 30ft away. Through walls you don’t hear them. You really don’t. However you don’t have them attached to a wall under a window!

StatisticallyChallenged · 16/04/2023 23:28

I'm autistic, so very noise sensitive. But ours is down the side of the house so you never walk past it, can't be heard from either garden and I have genuinely heard it inside the house once in nearly 3 years and the sofa I sit on is against the wall the ashp is on. We had way more noise from our previous (new) boiler - they're hardly silent.

YankeeDad · 17/04/2023 00:12

@onefinemess you are right in your advice to the OP, but you are wrong about several other things.

The climate in the UK, at least in the southern part, is reasonably well suited to Air-Sourced Heat Pumps, because it does not get extremely cold. However, ASHP would not work well as retrofits in most UK houses because most UK houses are poorly insulated and have small radiators with narrow pipes that were designed to work with water flowing around at 60C from a boiler. An ASHP is much more efficient when it can send around water at temperatures between 25C-40C, which is exactly what ours does, getting us a decent efficiency ratio: we get more than 3kW of heat for every 1kW of electricity used.

What is absolutely bollocks is your conclusion that because CO2 is only a tiny percentage of the atmosphere, it therefore does not cause climate change. Although the absolute amount is tiny, the percentage increase is huge and also accelerating: after spending millenia at around 280 PPM, after the industrial revolution the CO2 concentration started to increase. and then to accelerate, to about 420 PPM currently, so an increase of +50%. Worse still, about half of that increase has happened since 1990 (concentration then was 350 PPM). So this increase is clearly accelerating. CO2 is such a potent GHG that 280PPM was enough to make the earth warm enough to support life, including human life, but it is also potent enough that if we keep doing what we are doing, we are likely to end or at least severely curtail life on earth, again including human life.

Also, when scientists say "is believed to cause" that reflects on how scientists speak: scientists are generally reluctant to say anything at all is 100% certain. But the likelihood that climate change is caused by human activity was estimated by the IPCC to be 95%. That is about as close to certainty as you get for anything that is even a little bit complex.

NOAA’s greenhouse gas index up 41 percent since 1990

NOAA’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, which tracks the warming influence of long-lived greenhouse gases, has increased by 41 percent from 1990 to 2017, up 1 percent from 2016 -- with most of that attributable to rising carbon dioxide levels, according to...

Jeevesnotwooster · 17/04/2023 00:17

Haven't read the full thread but I'd definitely say air source heat pump. We've had ours for over a year now and love it. I am never going back to gas
And don't believe the hype about hydrogen and hydrogen ready boilers. It's very very unlikely that hydrogen will be used for heating in a significant way. that's from numerous independent reviews and Climate Change Committee.

Jeevesnotwooster · 17/04/2023 00:20

And we have had temperatures down below -7c and it worked fine and house was warm. Even the older radiators which we didn't upgrade, which was about half of them

SorePaw · 17/04/2023 01:05

@WilbursWinnie your boiler has packed up?! Surely this is not the time for faffing? Changing to ASHP is involved.

just get a good quality boiler, asap. Look into other options for the future & get the place insulated as best you can etc.

AskMeMore · 17/04/2023 01:27

A friend fitted a heat pump in an old stone cottage that had excellent insulation. She had to remove it and put in a boiler as the house was so cold.

AskMeMore · 17/04/2023 01:28

Heat source pumps work well in modern buildings where they are part of the design. But not in an old stone cottage.

jeffwhit · 17/04/2023 04:32

Just see heatpump = weak performance
only well insulated house could fit

u can either invest a lot to upgrade the insulation and UFH / bigger rads

or simply get a normal boiler

BishopRock · 17/04/2023 06:55

It's heading to the end of April so the OP has plenty of time to "faff" thinking about what to do instead of making a knee jerk decision.

I think whatever the OP decides about heating options she would be sensible to sort out her insulation first as much as is doable.

Oil isn't cheap, so I don't think replacing like with like is necessarily the best plan.

C4tastrophe · 17/04/2023 07:01

The government will move against gas boilers, if it hasn’t already, and in a generation or less the only option will be ASHP.
So people buying an old house as their ‘forever home’ need to factor this (massive) expense in.

WilbursWinnie · 17/04/2023 07:18

Yes, we have time to consider what we want to do. We have been without our boiler for 2 weeks and are coping just fine. We just need to make sure we are sorted by winter.

We have an electric shower so have hot water. We also have a wood burner.

Our house is a very old farm house that has been extended over the years and lacks some very basic insulation so there is a lot to do to get it up to scratch.

We are looking into all of our options but certainly aren't going to rush the decision.

Thank you everyone for your input.

OP posts:
Jeevesnotwooster · 17/04/2023 07:52

An ASHP will work in a badly insulated house. But you will probably need a higher KW heat pump and your bills will be higher. Our house wasn't particularly drafty but we installed the pump with only loft insulation and put cavity wall and underfloor insulation in after. It worked fine but would have cost us more over the long term. We have double not triple glazing and couldn't insulate our living room so we are not superinsulated
It would be worth sorting out any drafts I would think.
But if you can find a competent supplier the first thing they should do is a heat loss calculation to work out what size pump you need and your likely consumption of electricity. Ours did the calculation with and without the insulation and for us it made sense to get the higher insulation and lower capacity heat pump. We have a large 3 bed bungalow and an 8kw heat pump. Hope that helps

RidingMyBike · 17/04/2023 08:19

It's worth getting the proper heat survey done - we got quotes for both ASHP and boiler replacement. Bearing in mind we were going to upgrade insulation and windows anyway (we haven't done triple glazing - only double, this has been fine with ASHP).

Look at your life style. ASHP work best running for a lot of the day, so you don't get the blasts of heat you do with a boiler and radiators. That means they don't work best put on for two short periods a day - a lot of people seem to run into problems as they try and run them like boilers. As we almost always have someone at home having continuous gentle heat works really well for us. We keep downstairs at about 20 or 21 degrees and bedrooms at 18 or 19.

Compare utility prices - Octopus does a electricity package designed for heat pump owners which cuts the cost more again. Basically you run it more and heat water at cheaper times of day.

If you're on Facebook I found the 'U.K. heat pumps' group helpful. It has been invaded by some of the negative people but there are all some very knowledgeable and helpful people on there.

GasPanic · 17/04/2023 11:06

The problem is with these things is that they have to some degree been mis sold.

Yes they can work well. But sometimes they don't. As many people have pointed out, insulation is an issue. Radiator size is too. There is also the problem of maintenance, whether there are enough engineers around to maintain (some people in some areas have a lot of issues at the moment, but hopefully that will decrease with time). Then you have the actual maintenance costs, which are probably going to be more than a boiler because they have more moving parts under more stress.

It's hard to save money on the running costs, because getting a performance greater than 3 (3x the amount of heat out for the amount of electricity put it) means you have to have it set up well. Since gas is about 3x less than the price of electricity it is hard to save against mains gas.

People talk about the fact that they run well when insulation is installed, but you would also reduce the amount of gas you would use considerably if you installed equivalent insulation with a gas boiler.

They make some sense if you don't have access to mains gas. But still, you need to be careful as to whether the insulation you have in your house and radiator set is actually up to the job.

There is also the possibility that in the future the government will start to penalise people running gas boilers in order to force people over to heat pumps. There was talk of a £100 a year tax on boilers to try to get people to do this (in fact, this would be nowhere near enough to force me on to a heat pump). The other way they may do it is to change the gas : electric price ratio by increasing the price of gas, at the moment it is about 3.5, but they could gradually increase the gas price to force people onto electric. No one knows if this will happen.

If I had the money and had an existing working boiler, to me it makes more sense to spend money on insulation to make your house "heat pump ready" rather than go for the full conversion all at once. You will gain on your gas bill, and be in a position to swap out for the heat pump when it becomes advantageous to do so.

BishopRock · 17/04/2023 11:08


OP lives rurally and has up till now had oil CH, not mains gas.

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