Q&A - are small heat pumps cost effective?
Q. We’ve seen a ground source heat pump system which fits in a cupboard and appears to be much more cost efficient to install and run than a traditional boiler system. Is this the case?
A. Previously, ground source heat pump systems weren’t small; however, the “Shoebox Heat Pump” that was developed in the UK changes this. It fits into a cupboard rather than requiring its own plant room. The unit is designed to provide both space heating and domestic hot water in new build and retrofit properties which require a load of up to 3kW.
Is this something you should consider? Although the pump may be small, you will still need a large outside space, such as a car park, to contain the boreholes for the system. This means that although the cost of the heat pump isn’t much more than a highly efficient condensing boiler, when the total installation costs are calculated it’s a different matter. Estimates for a single system range from £9,000 to £17,000. So although swapping to such a unit will keep energy bills down, it will take a long time to recoup the initial investment.
Tip. These systems work well if the boreholes service a number of systems, for example a block of flats or multiple occupancy offices. So if you’re developing properties, units such as this should be considered.