Heat Pumps: The Future of Home Heating

Heat pump technology has been in existence for a number of years and is a popular form of heating in many countries, particularly in Scandinavia. Heat pumps take heat from outside your home and convert it into useful heat and hot water. Heat pumps are extremely efficient and keep your home comfortable at all times - never too hot or cold and set to suit your personal comfort level. 


The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) recently announced a new grant for heat pump systems with grants of up to €3,500 now available. 

FAQs on Heat Pumps

What is a heat pump?

Heat pumps are electrical devices that convert heat from either the air outside (air source heat pumps) or the ground (ground source heat pumps) into useful heat within your home.  

How do they work?

Heat pumps contain a liquid that quietly and efficiently harvests and absorbs the heat from the air or ground surrounding a building. The heat pump then compresses the liquid and raises it to a suitable temperature. The heat from the liquid is then transferred to your heating system including your radiators, under-floor heating and hot water tank providing you with heat and hot water.  

What happens when the air outside is cold?

The remarkable thing about heat pumps is that they can extract useful heat from very low temperature sources, even from 20 degrees below freezing. In Scandinavian countries where winters are much colder than Ireland they are the most popular heating system. Heat pumps are a proven technology and are extremely reliable.

How efficient are they?  

Heat pumps are extremely efficient. For every unit of electricity used in the process,  at least three units of electricity are produced.

Can it heat and cool my house?

Air conditioning units you are familiar with operate like heat pumps, however heat pumps installed in most Irish homes cannot be used for cooling. In summer when the weather is hot the heat pump will simply heat your water. 

Can you heat different rooms at different temperatures?

Yes - the house can be split into zones – typically two – and these can be set with different temperatures. 

What does a heat pump look like? 

Heat Pump

 View an animation on Heat Pumps here.  

Why should I look at getting a heat pump in my new house?

If you are living in a house that has been constructed after 2005 it is likely to be insulated to a standard that is suitable for a heat pump and will have low heat loss. If you are thinking of replacing your boiler or renovating your home your home you will reap the benefits of your investment.

Do I need to keep my existing oil or gas boiler?

No – the heat pump will provide you with all your heating and hot water requirements. 

Does it take long to figure out how to use a heat pump?

Once the system is set up correctly you should not have to change it often. Once you set the thermostat to your preferred temperature, the system is designed to regulate the temperature of the house to that setting. So no more settings timers, fiddling with switches and wondering if you turned off the immersion!   

How often does a Heat Pump need to be serviced?

Heat pumps should be serviced annually or as directed by the manufacturer. 

Where should a heat pump be installed?

The outdoor unit is typically set up at the back or side of the house. The indoor components are usually located in a press.

What are the benefits of a heat pump?    

-They are extremely efficient and can provide up to 3 units of electricity for every unit used.
-They can provide all your heating and hot water requirements.
-They are family friendly with no air quality concerns and radiators (or underfloor heating) run as lukewarm and not hot to touch.
-Once it is set-up, it is self-regulating and the settings don’t need to be changed or timers used.
-They are a source of renewable energy and are environment friendly.
-They eliminate the need for a fossil fuel boiler in your home.

My house is old – can I still install a heat pump?

If you live in an older house with poor insulation, old windows and draughts you will need to carry out a deep retrofit to get the benefit of a heat pump.  The aim of a deep retrofit is to carry out multiple energy efficient measures together so as to improve the overall comfort of your home and reduce your bills. Such measures may include wall and attic insulation, replacing windows and doors, reducing draughts and improving controlled ventilation. The heating system is also upgraded to a heat pump.

That sounds like a lot of work – how do I know it will be worth the time and effort?

It is a lot of work but there are grants available and your house will have a much-improved Building Energy Rating (BER). Your house will be more comfortable and your energy bills will be significantly reduced.  

Do I need to get my windows and doors replaced?

Only if your windows and doors are performing poorly. In many circumstances it is not necessary to change both windows and doors. A technical assessment will determine if you need to this this.

What are the minimum retrofit requirements for a heat pump?

You must ensure that your home is well insulated and relatively air tight to ensure the effectiveness of a heat pump.

I am also thinking of having a solar PV panel fitted as part of the retrofit. Is this possible?

Yes you can have both a heat pump and a solar PV installation.  

How much is a heat pump?

The cost of a new heat pump can vary significantly depending on the size and requirements of the home and whether it is installed at the time of the new build or as part of a retrofit.

What grants are available?

A grant from SEAI of €3,500 has been available since April 2018.

Where do I apply for a grant?

You can apply for the Heat Pump grant by contacting SEAI. Click here for details

Do I qualify for such grants?

A Technical Assessor will assess your home and determine your Heat Loss Indicator (HLI). This will highlight if you are A) Eligible for the grant B) Able to install a Heat Pump C) Should have retrofit work done first.

How do I go about getting my home retrofitted?

The SEAI can provide details about retrofitting your home as this can involve carrying out multiple energy efficiency measures.

What are the running costs?

Once installed, Heat Pumps are up to 30% cheaper to run than gas or oil boilers

What are the costs per annum?

The Heat Pump Association of Ireland states that the cost of heating a home and providing hot water with an air to water heat pump for a year is in the region of €1,100.


Learn how to future proof your home with a heat pump


Smart Energy Services

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