Industry Trade Body Propertymark

Ground source heat pumps ‘totally unrealistic’ for most rented homes – expert

Ground source heat pump installation costs can add up to an eyewatering £35,000, according to one heating expert, and are incompatible with most homes.

Even for committed landlords who have the space and the planning permission, those with a combi boiler or a hydrogen-ready boiler won’t qualify for the £6,000 Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) grant because the government deems anyone with low-carbon heating systems ineligible, according to Myles Robinson (pictured) from Boiler Central.

He explains that the immense costs can multiply if some parts of the existing heating system are incompatible with the heat pump system, such as radiators, emitters or any pipework.

“Compared to a £2,000 hydrogen-ready boiler and even £7,000 for an air source heat pump, this is clearly out of most people’s reach,” says Robinson, who adds that not every property is suitable for heat pump installation.

“It’s also not worth bothering to get planning permission for an air source heat pump that will last you less than a boiler, which you would need anyway for when it’s cold outside and the pump struggles to extract heat.

The BUS scheme launched in April, when other experts voiced fears that landlords would need longer-term funding to help them meet energy efficiency targets through a national retrofit campaign.

Through the scheme, they can get £6,000 off the cost and installation of a ground source heat pump, £5,000 for an air source heat pump, and £5,000 for a biomass boiler.

Ground work
But Robinson says there are some positives to installing a ground pump as they increase the value of a property, are extremely energy efficient and could reduce the council tax bill.

They also need little-to-no electricity to run, are far less dependent on the weather and can double as a cooling system. These pumps can last up to 25 years, compared to weather-battered air source heat pumps that only last a decade or a gas boiler’s 15-year lifespan. Unlike air-source heat pumps, they don’t generally need planning permission.

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