What Are Heat Pumps?

Our reliance on fossil fuels has been a major contributing factor to climate change, and it has become very important to find green alternatives for heating our households, especially with the installation of new gas central heating boilers to be prohibited by 2035.

To this end, the government has set out plans to offer £5,000 grants to help 90,000 UK households to install home heat pumps and other low-carbon heating solutions over the next three years, as part of its plan to cut the UK’s reliance on fossil fuel heating, reports the Mirror.

It is estimated that as gas boilers are phased out, heat pump installations could reach 600,000 a year in the 2030s. But what is a heat pump?

In the simplest of terms, a heat pump works like a reverse fridge. It extracts warmth from the air outside, the ground, or a nearby water source, then concentrates the heat and transferring it indoors. They look like a standard air conditioning unit.

As for why we need heat pumps, around 85 per cent of UK homes use gas boilers for heating, making it one of the most polluting sectors of the UK economy.

The fossil fuels we use for heating, hot water, and cooking account for more than a fifth of the country’s CO2 emissions, which means finding low-carbon alternatives are crucial for achieving the UK’s climate targets.

However, heat pumps cost far more than traditional gas boilers, starting at £6,000 for an air source pump, and at least £10,000 for a ground source pump. It is expected that these prices will significantly fall in the coming years as more are installed.

In the meantime, the government’s grant scheme should help bridge the difference.


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Why Gas Crisis Is More Reason To Go Solar

Householders all over London will have been dismayed by the recent surge in energy prices, caused by the rising wholesale cost of gas that has pushed some suppliers out of business and forced others to raise prices as far as the energy cap will allow.

All this will leave some upset or angry at the bottom line on their bills, but many will also wonder just what they can do about it.

More solar panel installation in London could be one way forward, enabling people to generate some of their own electricity and not have to rely on suppliers at the mercy of the various factors influencing the energy market. After all, burning gas is one of the ways electricity is generated, so this is not immune to the cost pressures.

A good reason for using more solar power is that the gas crisis may not go away anytime soon. It is certainly true that in the short term the surge in demand for gas has been driven by the opening up of western economies as vaccination programmes ease the pandemic. But this alone is not a full explanation, as gas demand was higher before the crisis.

The main issue is supply. Across Europe, gas supplies are down because half of it comes from Russia and the amount coming through the pipelines continues to decline. This impacts on wholesale prices, although the UK sources some gas from the North Sea and Norway.

Britain was self-sufficient in gas until about 20 years ago, but now relies on the Langeled Pipeline from Norway and the BBL Pipeline from the Netherlands to boost supply.

Another issue is gas storage. Other European countries have up to five times as much capacity as Britain, with UK levels being branded “pathetic” by Sir Jim Radcliffe, the head of chemicals giant Ineos. He has warned of possible factory shutdowns and blackouts over winter.

A few years ago the government planned to increase gas supplies from shale, but the controversy over the fracking methods used to extract it has led to this being abandoned.

With solar being so green and gas supplies being so uncertain, now may be the best time yet to get some rooftop panels installed.