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Heat Pump V Gas Boiler: What to choose in 2024

air source heat pump v gas boiler

Are you considering what household heating method will replace your gas boiler once they are phased out in 2035? We’re here to reassure you that heat pumps are the way forward. Not only are they more environmentally friendly than your traditional boiler, but they can also cut your bills, have a longer lifespan and are considered safer.

In this article we are going to pit heat pumps and gas boilers against each other to see which one will come out on top. We will outline what a heat pump is, the different types of heat pumps available, and the pros and cons associated with them. Before we compare the cost, efficiency rating, maintenance requirements, installation times, how environmentally friendly they are, and the lifespan of each heating measure.

What Is A Heat Pump?

A heat pump works by transferring (or pumping) heat from one location to another. This works to heat your home, as the heat pump will extract heat from outside your home, bringing it inside. There are two main types of heat pump that you may consider installing on your property. These are air source and ground source heat pumps.

Air Source Heat Pumps V Ground Source Heat Pumps

The main difference between air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps is where they are able to draw the heat from.

  • Air source heat pumps work by drawing heat from the air outside your home, which is then converted into water that can be used to heat your home via your radiators or underfloor heating systems. Additionally, these heat pumps can also heat water which you can use in your household taps, showers, or baths.
  • Ground source heat pumps on the other hand extracts heat from the ground surrounding your home. Unlike their air source counterparts, ground source heat pumps are installed underground. But that is where the differences end, as ground source pumps can also heat your home’s radiators and underfloor heating, as well as providing hot water.


Pros And Cons Of Heat Pumps

Benefits Of Installing A Heat Pump

  • Reduce your energy bills: Compared to traditional heating methods, like combi boilers, heat pumps are typically cheaper to run. Meaning that you can save money on your energy bills by installing a heat pump.
  • More environmentally friendly: If you are looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, then look no further than installing a heat pump.
  • Long lifespan: Most heat pumps have an expected product lifespan of up to 25 years.
  • Improved safety: Generally, heat pumps are considered to be safer than other traditional heating methods like gas boilers. This is partly due to the fact that they are installed outside of your home.
  • Funding available: You can receive financial aid to help you install either an air source heat pump or ground source heat pump in your home with the help of ZOA Eco Grants.


Drawbacks Of Installing A Heat Pump

  • Large upfront costs: While installing a heat pump can save you money in the long run, you must take into account the substantial upfront costs that come along with heat pumps. However, the reasoning behind this higher cost is due to the complex nature of installing a heat pump compared to your traditional gas boiler.
  • Varying efficiency levels: During the winter months, heat pumps will not be as efficient compared to the summer months, for obvious reasons. However, this does not mean that they do not produce heat at all; they will just require more electricity in order to work effectively.
  • You may require planning permission: This may not be an issue if you live in either England or Scotland. However, if you reside in either Wales or Northern Ireland, you may require planning permission to install a heat pump on your property.


Air Source Heat Pumps Vs Gas Boilers Comparison

boiler heat pump comparison

In this section we look at the key factors that may influence your buying decision and see which system comes out on top, heat pumps or gas boilers. We will be comparing the relevant costs, efficiency ratings, required maintenance, how environmentally friendly each option is, predicted lifespans, and installation times.


Initial And Running Costs For Each Option

When you are selecting which central heating system you want to install in your household, one of the biggest factors that will influence your decision is the cost. No matter what heating system you go for, it will always be a costly expense. In the table below, we have outlined the average costs of a gas boiler, air source heat pump, and ground source heat pump:

The average cost of each heating system
Heating measure Average cost
Gas boiler From £1,000 to £4,000
Air source heat pump From £7,000 to £13,000
Ground source heat pump From £24,000 to £49,000

While there is a sizable difference between the costs of the heat pumps vs gas boilers, there is financial aid available to help lessen the burden of purchasing a heat pump.


Funding Available To Help You Purchase A Heat Pump System

If you are looking for ways to make purchasing a heat pump more affordable, then look no further than these three key government grants that can save you money:

  • Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS): If you reside in either England or Wales, then you may be eligible for financial help through the government’s BUS initiative. For those that fulfil the eligibility criteria, you could receive up to £7,500 to help with the cost of purchasing and installing either an air source or ground source heat pump. This is currently the best option for air source heat pump funding.
  • ECO4 Scheme: If your home is fully insulated but still doesn’t meet the necessary energy efficiency requirements, you may be able to apply for a heat pump system through the ECO4 scheme. The scheme will offer financial aid for one singular energy efficiency method that providers deem will improve your household’s energy efficiency rating. This is because the scheme hopes to limit the UK’s carbon emissions. However, you must meet a very strict eligibility criteria to qualify for funding.
  • LA Flex: The LA Flex scheme is directly linked to the ECO4 scheme. However, due to the extensive eligibility criteria of the ECO4 scheme, the LA Flex alternative provides local authorities with the power to determine which households should be eligible for the funding in their area. Other than that, the two schemes work exactly the same.

Running Cost

Currently, heat pumps are more expensive to run on a day-to-day basis as they require electricity to work properly, and electricity prices are higher than gas prices. However, part of this price increase will be offset by the improved efficiency rate of heat pumps. Additionally, if you consider installing solar panels on your property, you can run your heat pump using the renewable energy source which will provide you with free electricity.


Efficiency Ratings

Heat pump systems, both ground and air varieties, are known for being more energy efficient compared to gas boilers. Heat pumps typically boast efficiency ratings of around 300%, while new gas boilers typically stand at around 90% efficiency.

When researching various heating systems, you should also take into account the advertised efficiency ratings. The more efficient a system is, the less electricity it will require. This, in turn, will reduce your energy bills.


Required Maintenance

While upfront costs can be a major influencing factor, you must also take into account how much maintenance your heating system will require post-installation. Meeting the required maintenance needs of a heating system ensures that they will continue to generate heat effectively, while also continuing to keep costs low. However, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, and gas boilers will all have varying maintenance requirements, as displayed in the table below:

What are the maintenance requirements for each system?
Heating measure Requirements
Air source heat pump Only requires a service from a qualified engineer every two to three years. However, your warranty may require you to book a service on an annual basis. Each service may cost you around £150 each, but can be cheaper.
Ground source heat pump Due to their underground location, ground source heat pumps require very little maintenance as they are not exposed to outside elements. Similar to air source heat pumps, however, you may be required to book annual services if your warranty requires it and each service could set you back around £150.
Gas boilers Booking an annual service is typically the norm when it comes to gas boilers, with each service setting you back between £50 to £150.

Aside from booking your service, the day-to-day maintenance of any of these heating systems requires you to ensure there is no debris impacting the system nor any ventilation issues. 

Additionally, with gas boilers (or any type of boiler including combi boilers) you need to check for any dips in pressure or leaks.

Which Option Is More Environmentally Friendly?

Going back to the efficiency ratings, in the battle between heat pump vs gas boiler, heat pumps clearly win. However, the fact that heat pumps use less electricity compared to gas boilers also means that they are more environmentally friendly.

Additionally, a gas boiler (and a combi boiler) will require fossil fuels in order to heat your home. Whereas heat pumps are known as a renewable energy alternative to gas boilers. The burning of fossil fuels is one of the world’s biggest contributors when it comes to carbon emissions. By installing a heat pump on your property, you can reduce your household’s carbon footprint by up to 44%.

What Are The Predicted Lifespans Of A Heat Pump And A Gas Boiler?

Whether you are considering installing either a gas boiler or heat pump, the expected lifespan of the heating system may massively influence your decision. This is understandable, considering the fact that heat pumps cost considerably more initially compared to gas boilers, when you are disregarding the available funding. By taking into account the predicted lifespan of a heating system, you are able to work out whether the return on investment is worth it.

Predicted Lifespans

  • Gas boiler: If you have a new gas boiler installed, the machine will have a predicted lifespan of between 10 to 15 years.
  • Heat pump: Whereas heat pumps have a longer predicted lifespan compared to gas boilers, as they can last anywhere between 20 to 25 years.


Installation time

The final consideration you may wish to take into account before choosing between a heat pump or gas boiler is the predicted installation time. Gas boilers are the quickest method to install, only taking up to 24 hours on average. While an air source pump can take between 2 to 3 days to install, with the ground source variety taking longer still, with installation lasting up to 4 to 6 weeks.

Can You Use Both A Heat Pump And Gas Boiler Together?

If you haven’t made up your mind, you are able to combine both systems and install a hybrid system which combines an air source pump and a gas boiler. This system will work by utilising more of the heat pump than the gas boiler, with 80% of your heating being produced by the heat pump, with the boiler filling the void.

This is an ideal solution for those that live in low-insulated homes which may have been unsuitable for heat pumps previously.

Can I Still Buy A Gas Boiler?

Yes, currently you are still able to purchase a gas boiler. However, under current government initiatives, gas boilers will be phased out by 2035. Instead, the UK will move towards hydrogen boilers which burn hydrogen rather than natural gas. Hydrogen boilers are considered to be more environmentally friendly than current gas boilers and will help the country reduce its carbon emissions.

Can I Install An Air Source Heat Pump On My Property?

Sadly, certain properties are considered unsuitable when installing a heat pump. The main factors that could influence how suitable your home is, includes: the size and amount of radiators your home has, and the level of insulation installed in your property.

Unlike traditional gas boilers, heat pumps do not produce heat rapidly. In order to maintain the same levels of heat in your home that you have become accustomed to, you will want to invest in larger radiators that will be able to heat your home quicker. In addition, you may wish to consider installing cavity wall or loft insulation, as this will help your property retain more heat. Both of these measures may be impossible for you, especially if you live in a listed or historical building.

Other Factors That Could Influence Your Ability To Get A Heat Pump Includes:

  • If you have limited outdoor space: Whether you are wanting to install either an air source or ground source pump, you will require ample outdoor space in order to have the system installed.
  • If you live in a flat: For those that live in any type of flat, the limited outdoor area makes it almost impossible to install a heat pump.
  • Do you live in a large property: An air source pump might be less effective when serving larger properties, making ground source pumps the more suitable alternative. However, this will come with a larger price tag.

Heat Pump Vs Gas Boiler Summary

Are you ready to take the plunge towards a more environmentally friendly future and purchase a heat pump? With gas boilers being phased out in the not too distant future, everyone is looking for alternative methods to heat their home. Below, we have highlighted how heat pumps compare to your traditional gas boiler in all of the key areas:

  • Initial cost: Of the three available options, gas boilers are the cheapest with prices ranging between £1,000 to £4,000. With air heat pumps setting you back on average between £7,000 to £13,000, and ground source pumps are more expensive still, costing between £24,000 to £49,000. .
  • Running cost: Heat pump running costs are more expensive than current boiler costs. However, due to the superior efficiency levels of heat pumps, this gap is greatly reduced. You can minimise the costs even further if your property features a solar panel system that could power your heat pump.
  • Available funding: If you wish to install a heat pump on your property there are a variety of funding methods available to you (both free boilers & heat pump grants), including: the ECO4 scheme, Boiler Upgrade Scheme, and the LA Flex scheme. The BUS initiative in particular can award you up to £7,500 to help you purchase your desired heat pump.
  • The environment: Heat pumps utilise renewable energy sources that make them the low carbon heating system of choice. By installing a heat pump system, you can minimise your household’s carbon footprint.
  • Efficiency: Typically heat pump systems boast efficiency ratings of around 300%, while gas boilers are only 90% efficient. Meaning that heat pumps require less power to be as effective.
  • Maintenance: While gas boilers must be serviced every year to ensure that they are working effectively, heat pumps do not require as much maintenance. Ground source pumps don’t require much maintenance at all, since they are located underground. While the air source variety only needs to be serviced every two to three years. But don’t forget to check your warranty agreement.
  • Installation: Heat pump installation currently takes longer compared to gas boiler installation, which can be a disadvantage if you are limited on time.

If you are still uncertain as to whether installing a heat pump is the right decision for your household, then why not get in touch with ZOA Eco Grants? Our experts will be able to reassure you and answer any queries you may have.


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