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Efficient boilers trump heat pumps for rural users

Dear Sir,

In response to Graham Hazell’s letter (H&V News 24 Apr, p10), I am pleased to hear some people with heat pumps are saving money on their fuel bills.

I have no doubt these will be well designed and installed systems. However, heat pumps are not often a direct replacement option for typical off-gas properties without the need for extra insulation and other - often costly - home improvements.

For rural heating customers who have happily relied on oil heating for many years, replacing their existing boiler with a high- efficiency condensing model will be much cheaper than making the modifications needed to be heat pump-compatible.

As oil boilers can have a very long life, there are many standard efficiency models still in use.

Switching to condensing models could save owners around 25 per cent. The best and cheapest option for off-gas householders is often oil.

Jeremy Hawksley, OFTEC director general

Readers' comments (1)

  • I quite agree with Jeremy. Heat pumps are fine for new-build properties where the heating system can be designed around the lower temperatures of the medium. Even in some older properties with existing systems there may be improvements to insulation possible (if not already carried out) which would allow the reduced output from existing radiators to suffice. of course there are HP units available which will produce output temperatures comparable to a boiler, however the higher output temperatures inevitably come at the cost of reduced efficiency.
    The BIG problem with HPs, which is a favourite bete noir of mine, is the extra demand they place upon the electricity grid, not only from the loading (bearing in mind recent stories in the media about the dwindling spare generating capacity in the UK) but also the effects upon local distribution networks which -in many rural areas- if not quite the proverbial 'piece of wet string' would then would require much upgrading to cope with the additional demand, with a resulting increase in either installation costs for new supplies or higher bills for consumers to fund the work.

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