Is a heat pump on your home improvement list?

12 months ago
Is a heat pump on your home improvement list?

Traditionally, home improvements would encompass new bathrooms, new kitchens and replacing pebble dash exteriors for smooth render but the green agenda has seen our property ‘to do’ list undergo a makeover of its own.

This year’s Rated People’s Home Improvement Trends Report found homeowners are twice as likely to make eco-improvements to their home in 2023, compared to 2022. In fact, the report found 45% of us are hoping to renovate our homes so they are kinder to the environment and more energy efficient.

Installing a heat pump was one of the most popular eco improvements identified by Rated People, who asked more than 2,000 UK-based homeowners and residents what work they were planning. Thirteen percent of those questioned thought upgrading their boiler to a more energy efficient system was one of the top ways to save money on energy bills this year.

While the cost to buy and install an air source heat pump – which absorbs heat from the outside and releases it within the home – is in the range of £7,000 and £13,000, according to Which?, the expense can be reduced. There are a number of financial initiatives, including the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme. With this, residents in England and Wales can apply for grants of £5,000 towards the cost of an air source heat pump and £6,000 towards a ground source heat pump. Scottish residents may qualify for an interest free loan or grant to make eco improvements, while those living in Northern Ireland might be able to get a grant to replace their boiler.

An air source heat pump – the most practical model for the average residential home – is one of several eco improvements that can be part funded thanks to an initiative from Barclays. Its Greener Home Reward scheme, which was extended in July 2023, is open to its existing residential mortgage customers and new borrowers, who can apply for a cash reward in return for committing to an eco- improvement.

As well as part funding insulation, window, door and solar energy changes, the scheme will contribute up to £2,000 towards the installation of an air source heat pump. There are conditions, however, and among them is the requirement for the homeowner to use a TrustMark-approved tradesperson or business to qualify and not be in arrears at the time of application.

July was also the month that Octopus Energy launched a new loan scheme for those who want to install a heat pump. The initiative is in tandem with MBNA, with Octopus customers able to access a loan amount from £1,000 upwards. As an added incentive, Octopus will also apply for the Government’s heat pump installation discount on the homeowner’s behalf, for added savings.

While heat pump installations are an investment, they can pay off in a number of ways. A report by Scottish Power and WWF found ground and air source heat pumps can increase a property’s value by up to 3% and reduce carbon emissions by as much as 90%. In addition, Green Match also claim annual fuel bills can be slashed by as much as £780 for those who swap to an air source heat pump – with bigger savings for those who previously used electric, coal or LPG systems.

Replacing a conventional gas or oil-fired boiler with any type of heat pump will also improve your EPC rating – an essential aspect for landlords who need to meet minimum energy efficiency standards. This is currently an E EPC rating but looks set to rise to a C for all privately rented properties by 2028.

With more incentives to switch to a heat pump than ever, it pays to do some research before getting carried away with the idea. The installation of air source heat pumps falls within ‘permitted development’ rights. Therefore, planning permission is not usually required if the installation and the pump itself complies with the permitted development criteria.

The criteria does vary between England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, so it’s worth checking with your local council’s planning department before committing to any work. Differences include the size of the external compressor permitted and the pump’s distance from a boundary or neighbouring property.

If you have your heart set on a heat pump but live in a listed property, a conservation area or a World Heritage Site, you may need specific planning permission. Your local authority will be able to tell you what’s permissible.

If you’d like any advice about the eco aspects of a home you would like to sell, buy or rent out, including EPC advice, please contact us today.

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