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Heat Pumps

Heat Pump

Why pay for expensive, price-volatile oil or LPG? Especially when there’s abundant heat in the atmosphere and ground. In brief, a Heat Pump extracts this heat extremely efficiently and uses it to supply hot water and heating.

For the most part, they come in two forms –

  • Air Source Heat Pump (also known as air source heating, heat source pump, air to water heat pump, air heat pump)
  • Ground Source Heat Pump (also known as ground source heating)

Which type?

As there are comparatively significant installation cost differences between the two, the most popular for businesses are Air Source Heat Pumps. Despite being slightly less efficient, this heat pump type doesn’t not require groundwork. For this reason, they require no more room than air conditioning.

How do they work?

To explain, these systems take low-grade heat from a source such as the atmosphere or pipework buried in the ground. It extracts what heat there is by concentrating it to the point where it is effective for hot water and heating.

As an illustration, a properly installed system typically achieves 55 degrees C flow temperature, even in sub-zero temperatures.

Are they expensive to run?

On the contrary, they are is highly economic. Whilst both types certainly require electricity to run their compressors (used to concentrate the heat), modern heat pumps will output at least three times the heat for every kW put into the system. For example –

  • 1kW electricity in = 3kW of heat out

This is Coefficient of Performance’, or COP. In other words, the ratio above is a 3 x COP.

Comparatively, a business or home owner is therefore only paying for a third of the heat generated. Indeed, if combined with Solar PV and battery storage, the overall savings are potentially significant over oil, LPG, or electric heating. 

It is for these reasons that Councils are using them as part of the Energiesprong / ZEBCat (Zero Energy Buildings Catalyst ) project to decarbonise social housing. IU Energy is working on thousands of such properties in the SW to meet this exacting specification.

Renewable Heat Incentive for 20 years

This technology also qualifies for the Government’s ‘Renewable Heat Incentive’ (RHI) for twenty years. IU Energy has broad experience in surveying for and installing this technology. We also help with your RHI application.

What’s the best make?

The first thing to remember is that IU Energy uses technology brands selected for reliability, longevity, product range and warranty. Indeed, in general it applies in this case to all our renewable and energy saving brands. 

For commercial Air Source Heat Pumps and Ground Source Heat Pumps, the clear winner is LG for meeting all our demanding criteria.

Further Information

You can download a Technology Information Sheet here.

Below is a case study for a project we have conducted, followed by FAQs. Shortly we will be able to case study the huge number we’re installing for Energiesprong / ZEBCat.


ASHP uses heat in the atmosphere as its source and the external ASHP equipment which extracts it looks very much like an aircon unit. A GSHP uses heat in the ground and requires extensive ground works to be excavated – a trench or hole for laying pipework which is buried,  which then extracts heat from the ground. It’s because of the ground works that the cost of GSHP is greater. The heat exchange units which concentrate the heat are usually internal to a building and are identical in ASHP and GSHP, only the source of gathering heat is different.

Ground source heat pumps are typically more efficient than air source heat pumps, and it has better RHI payback. However, a ground source heat pump is more expensive to buy and install at the outset. Horizontal ground source heat pumps are cheaper than vertical ground source heat pumps.

Very few business have the land available to enable a GSHP to be installed.

The main consumption of electricity comes from operating the compressors which are used in concentrating the heat up to a usable temperature. The issue is the COP however, which as explained is typically 1kW electricity = 3kW of usable heat.

Typically, the systems are less noisy than gas or oil boilers.

Generally, yes, however heat pumps are typically installed as a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to oil, LPG or electricity, where there is no mains gas.

As boiler temperatures are lower than gas, your radiators will need to be more efficient to give up their heat, so modern convecting multi-panel radiators are recommended, and in the case of a new-build, underfloor heating is a great option. System flow rates are also important and IU Energy engineers will ensure that all of these elements are correctly specified for maximum economy and efficiency.

Gas source heat pumps, although the upfront cost is significantly more. The tariff for new GSHP installations (from April 2018 is 9.36p p/kWh, as compared with ASHP which is 2.69p p/kWh.

As with all heating systems, it is advisable to take out a service package and have the plant serviced annually.

Not if you want to apply for RHI. The Government is currently offering incentives (Renewable Heat Premium Payment) to people who install renewable energy heating equipment, including air source heat pumps, if your premises does not have access to mains gas. In order to take advantages of these financial incentives both the product and the installation company must be certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Typically, a heat pump will operate below these temperatures, but will be less efficient (COP will drop)
Belfast: -1.2C 
Birmingham: -3.4C 
Cardiff: -3.9C 
Edinburgh: -1.8C 
Glasgow: -3.9C 
London: -1.8C 
Manchester: -2.2C 
Plymouth: -1.2C

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