All housing types are suitable for heat pumps, Electrification of Heat project finds

All housing types are suitable for heat pumps, Electrification of Heat project finds

There is no property type or architectural era that is unsuitable for a heat pump, according to the Government-funded Electrification of Heat project.

From Victorian mid-terraces to pre-WWII semis and a 1960s block of flats – the project has proven that heat pumps can be successfully installed in homes from every style and era.

The Electrification of Heat (EoH) demonstration project, funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), is seeking to better understand the technical and practical feasibility of a large-scale rollout of heat pumps into existing British homes.

Energy Systems Catapult was appointed to lead the management contractor consortium and has released the first EoH report on Heat Pump Installation Statistics, including the numbers and types of heat pumps installed, property type/age and on vs off-gas grid.

The project appointed three delivery contractors to install up to 750 heat pumps in three regions across Great Britain:

  • South East of Scotland – lead delivery contractor Warmworks working with Energy Savings Trust and Changeworks.
  • Newcastle – lead delivery contractor E.ON working with Newcastle City Council and Your Homes Newcastle.
  • South East of England – lead delivery contractor Ovo Energy working with Kaluza, RetrofitWorks, Parity Projects and SunAmp.

The recruitment and installation phase of the EoH project ran from July 2020 through to October 2021, and despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, 742 heat pumps were installed into a broad spectrum of housing types and socio-economic groups, that reflects a representative sample of households across Great Britain.

The range of different heat pumps installed included:

  • Low-temperature and high-temperature air-source heat pumps
  • Ground-source heat pumps
  • Hybrid heat pumps incorporated with a gas boiler
  • Some additional technologies, such as heat batteries were incorporated.

Energy and clean growth minister Lord Callanan said: “Heat pumps powered by clean, renewable energy will be key to warming UK homes in a net zero future.

“This trial demonstrates that low-carbon heating systems are an effective alternative for homes of all types and ages. As technology continues to improve and costs plummet over the next decade, they will become the obvious, affordable choice for consumers.”

Richard Halsey, Capabilities Director at Energy Systems Catapult, said: “the decarbonisation of heat is vitally important to meeting Net Zero targets and electrification will play a crucial role.

“The Electrification of Heat project is helping us understand the customer journey, installation and performance of heat pumps across Britain and the role that different heat pump technologies will play in different types of homes and places.

“There is opportunity for innovation to ensure heat pumps can deliver great heating experiences and operate efficiently as part of a smarter energy system.

“Now the installation phase is complete we will be monitoring how the systems perform and the experience of households to inform the next steps on getting homes heat pump ready.”

From the total distribution of installations, the following conclusions can be drawn:

  1. The EoH project was successful in installing the full range of heat pump system types into the full range of targeted property types and ages
  2. The project has not identified any particular type or age of property that cannot have a successful heat pump installation. The suggestion that there are particular home archetypes in Britain that are “unsuitable” for heat pumps is not supported by project experience and data
  3. There were small shortfalls (though within planned tolerances) in the number of installations for properties built pre-1945 (22% installed against about 30% in real-world), with a slight excess in later age brackets (eg. 24.2% v 20% for 1945-1965 or 11% v 10% for 2001+).  This is indicative of there being a greater challenge in successfully designing heat pump systems for older homes, however 163 installs were successfully achieved in these older pre-1945 properties, clearly showing that such challenges are manageable
  4. 80% of the installations were in properties that were previously connected to the gas grid and where (prior to the heat pump installation) the primary heating system was fuelled by mains gas.

The EoH project now moves on to the monitoring and optimisation phase where the Delivery Contractors collect detailed performance data on the installed heat pumps and look to ensure they are performing within the expected parameters.

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