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Heat pumps – a quick guide

Is a heat pump right for your business?

Heat pumps

Traditional gas and oil boilers are not the only way to heat your premises. If you are looking for a system that will help you save money and cut your carbon emissions, a heat pump could be the solution. This guide will go through the basics and help you to decide if one would be right for you.

What are heat pumps and can I use one to heat my business?

Put simply, a heat pump is a device that takes heat from an external source, be it the outside air, ground or nearby loch or river, and does some clever stuff that makes it ready to use as heat in your business. These heat pumps are known as air source, ground source and water source respectively.

They all use the same technology that allows heat from the air, ground or water to be absorbed into a fluid that passes through a compressor. This process increases the temperature and the higher temperature heat is then transferred to your business’s heating and, depending on the type of heat pump, to the hot water supply also.

Heat pumps can even produce heat when the temperature outside is well below freezing allowing them to provide your business with heating and hot water all year round.

Although they still need electricity to run, heat pumps supply more heating and cooling capacity than the amount of electricity that is needed to run them.





The benefits of using a heat pump in your business

When compared with using traditional oil, electricity or liquid gas heating systems, heat pumps are a good choice for many businesses that want to reduce their carbon footprint and energy bills.

They are a safer alternative when compared to combustion heating systems, have a good lifespan of around 15 years, and are also relatively low maintenance.

Depending on the system you choose, your heat pump could be used to cool the air as well as heat it, effectively giving you an aircon system for the summer and keeping your staff comfortable all year round.

Some can be used to heat your water as well as your radiators or underfloor heating.

Although they still need electricity to run, heat pumps supply more heating and cooling capacity than the amount of electricity that is needed to run them. And when that electricity is supplied by solar or wind energy, they can effectively give you free, low carbon heat.

What are the key considerations when thinking about heat pumps?

Your first decision, if you are thinking about installing a heat pump, is whether you go for ground source, water source, air-to-air or air-to-water.

Do you have the outdoor space required for the pipework if you choose to go with a ground source heat pump? Or do you have a river or loch you can take advantage of? If space is at a premium, or there is no nearby water source, perhaps an air source heat pump would be a better alternative.

You also need to consider what you want your heat pump to do. Air-to-water heat pumps can be used to heat wet heating systems, while an air-to-air heat pump is like an air-conditioning unit in reverse, blowing warm air into your space. Also, an air-to-air pump cannot be used to heat your water.

The majority of heat pumps used in the UK are air-to-water.

Are you looking for instant heat? Heat pump systems can be slow to heat up, so would it provide you with the heat as and when you need it?

How much does it cost to install a heat pump in my business?

The cost depends on the type of heat pump you are using and its size as there is a big price range with ground source heat pumps more expensive than air source. It is possible to have a heat pump installed for around £10,000, but it isn’t unknown for large premises to pay up to £100,000. It is important to remember that once you have paid back the initial outlay, you will see significant annual savings and your heat pump should last around 15 years.

Financial support for heat pumps

Unsecured, interest-free loans with a 75% cashback grant now available. 

Find out more

Would a heat pump be right for my business?

Heat pumps can be a great choice in many different businesses – from factories to offices, shops to holiday parks, care homes to community halls. The key factors that determine if a heat pump is a feasible option, and which type of heat pump will be best, is more to do with the conditions on site.

  • While ground source heat pumps can be used with a deep vertical borehole, they are more cost-effective for businesses that have a reasonable area of outside space and are often used in rural locations.
  • Water source heat pumps need a nearby water source, such as a loch or a river.
  • Air source heat pumps have no such restrictions and can be used in a wide variety of businesses.

You may need to upgrade your insulation as well if you don’t already have a well-insulated building.

Frequently asked questions about heat pumps

  • Are heat pumps expensive? Whatever new technology you choose there will be an initial outlay, and if you have a large heating demand, that could be a big expense. But you need to bear in mind the potential savings, the reduction in carbon emissions and the payback period.
  • Are heat pumps noisy? Yes, heat pumps do make noise, but it’s likely that whatever system you are currently using also makes noise. Ground source heat pumps tend to be less noisy than air source as they don’t have a fan. But technology is improving all the time and the current heat pumps are quieter than their predecessors.
  • Will heat pumps work when it’s cold? It is possible to buy heat pumps that will continue to be efficient at temperatures as low as -18oC. Even though the air and the ground may seem cold to us, there is still heat there that the pump can use.
  • Do heat pumps take up a lot of space? Like a lot of things, the size of your premises will influence the size of your heat pump. If you opt for a GSHP, you do need a lot of outdoor space for the pipework, and then you will need room inside your property for the system itself. For an ASHP, less space is required and there is no requirement for any groundwork.
  • Will I need planning permission for a heat pump? Planning permission may be needed depending on the location of the business, the water source (fresh or saltwater) and the type of building (such as listed buildings).

See what other businesses have done

We have worked with a number of organisations that have been recommended to install heat pumps. Click below to read their stories:

You can arrange a free assessment here

If you are a Scottish SME and would like to know if a heat pump is a good option for your business, we are here to help. We can arrange for an independent consultant to visit your site and make recommendations for free. You can arrange a free assessment here.

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