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Heat Pump Running Costs

May 4, 2022

By Paul Homewood


Just returning to the article again:



It makes this claim:



This is all very strange, because the Telegraph itself reported on that very study in February, and told us that heat pumps would cost £200 a year or more to run than a gas boiler:





These costs are all based on the new energy price cap, put in place in April 2022.

There may be differences according to how well the house is insulated. A fully insulated home may well work out slightly cheaper to run, but today’s Telegraph specifically refers to “typically”. I would argue that the vast majority of houses do not have such insulation.

The Telegraph’s costings in the February piece are similar to mine for an average home:


The new OFGEM energy cap is:

Electricity – 28.34p/KWh

Gas – 7.37p/KWh

My calculations assume that an average house needs 12,000 KWh for heat; with 90% efficiency a gas boiler would therefore need 13333 KWh, costing £982 pa.

A heat pump working at an average efficiency of 2.8 would use 4285 KWh, costing £1214pa.

  1. Martin Brumby permalink
    May 4, 2022 10:41 am

    Don’t confuse ’em with facts, Paul.
    They’ve made up their minds!

  2. Mikehig permalink
    May 4, 2022 10:44 am

    Well spotted! It shows the miserable quality of their reporting that they contradict their own prior article.

    By the way, I wonder if your analysis is being a bit generous to heat pumps?
    Is hot water included in that typical consumption figure? From what I have read, heat pumps struggle to provide ample hot water and it hammers their efficiency to do so.
    Secondly, is a CoP of 2.8 realistic? Aiui, that’s a typical manufacturer claim based on “standard” conditions such as an ambient temp of 7 degrees – all very analogous to claimed fuel consumption figures for cars!

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      May 4, 2022 10:31 pm

      The coefficient of efficiency is based on a laboratory measurement of the transfer of heat from one ‘room’ to a second ‘room” with both at a standard temperature (about 23℃). A figure of 4.0 isn’t unusual for modern units.
      The name Heat Pump is indicative; pumping water uphill takes more energy than letting it run down hill. So trying to “pump” heat from a cold spot (e.g. outside air in winter) into a house at a (hopefully) higher temperature will use lots more electricity than if you tried “pump” heat OUT of your house to the cold outside.
      In fact 2.8 is a generous figure for an average. Below 5℃ outside it would be lower and that’s when you would be wanting more heat.
      And ground source is merely a fudge. Extracting heat from the ground cools it but come summer time it is supposed to recover. Some homes in the northern USA have used lake water as a heat source as it above 0℃ and insulated from the really cold air by the ice layer on the lake surface. So the ‘solution’ for heat pump usage is to install several acres of pond in your garden.

      • Mikehig permalink
        May 4, 2022 10:46 pm

        Graeme: thanks for confirming my suspicions about the efficiencies.

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        May 5, 2022 7:39 am

        And if you wanted to draw heat from outside where it is 40℃ into your house at, say, 20℃ your coefficient of efficiency could be as high as 7.0.
        Much as a few Greenies quote this figure (yes, I’ve seen that) I don’t think it is relevant.

      • May 5, 2022 7:51 am

        GraemeNo 3,

        it is not coefficient of efficiency, but coefficient of performance and does not accurately reflect the efficiency of the unit, as it does not take into account the amount of fuel actually used to provide the electricity on which the COP is based.
        The heat does not come from outside but merely the compression of the refrigerant gas. The lower outside temperature loads the compressor and gives a higher output the warmer the outside temperature is, which is why ground source is better than air source. Ground temperature at a reasonable depth is fairly constant despite being cooled when the heat pump is running.
        This is why air source is less effective as temperature drops as it gets closer to the evaporator temperature of the unit and reduces compressor loading.

        My biggest gripe, and it also applies to evs as well, they are brainwashing the public into believing these devices are green. They could be but not until our electricity is from non CO2 emitting generation, which we are a very long way from achieving. As it is, I don’t believe there will be any real drop in emissions by the transition to these expensive and less effective devices.

  3. May 4, 2022 10:55 am

    I’ve yet to see a comparison of natural-gas boilers vs heat-pumps running costs that accurately reflect all the running-costs variables.


    1. An undersized and therefore slow-response heat pump needs to run for many more hours than a correctly-sized-for-its-current-installation-system served by a rapid response boiler. Usually at least a 25kW combi.

    2. HPs by definition, draw most power, for most hours, most of the time when electricity prices are at their highest. And that’s before those wonderful Smart Meters impose exorbitant Time-of-Use charges.

    Comparisons based upon average annual electricity prices deliberately disinform.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      May 5, 2022 11:22 am

      As friends of mine have found from experience, the heat pump has to run continuously therefore so does the usually uprated circulating pump pushing the bigger volume of lukewarm water around oversized radiators. In one case a 95W circulating pump running 6 hours daily was replaced by a 125W model running 24 hours daily. At the end of the month just the circulating pump was almost £20 more on the electricity for no real gain whatsoever.
      They also found they were running the immersion heater also almost daily to meet hot water demands for a family home of 5.

  4. Subseaeng permalink
    May 4, 2022 11:01 am

    Having had an ASHP for the last twelve years I know exactly what it costs to run and it has been far in excess of using gas. If we had gas available to us it would (still) be a no brainier to use it. Also heat pumps do provide hot water quite easily but work best with a large hot storage tank. It was a good solution for us for about ten years when heating oil was expensive and when we had the RHI payments. However since September last year and with the recent price increases we have seen a 150% increase in our electricity costs with more to come.

  5. Phoenix44 permalink
    May 4, 2022 11:09 am

    Just a reminder that natural gas prices have fallen hugely from the peak – helped of course by the calendar – but are now less than half their peak.

    • Stephen H permalink
      May 4, 2022 2:52 pm

      Natural Gas futures in the US are at, or near their highest level since 2008, double their price since the Ukraine invasion.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        May 4, 2022 4:27 pm

        That is because the weather has been unseasonably cold across much of the US, as well as the diversion of supply to LNG liquefaction.

  6. 2hmp permalink
    May 4, 2022 11:14 am

    Don’t forget more radiators and a water cylinder – and cool baths.

  7. Cheshire Red permalink
    May 4, 2022 11:27 am

    Heat pumps are a great example of government intransigence where they’re creating a problem where none should exist, when instead government could significantly defuse opposition to Net Zero with just a few well-aimed revisions.
    The argument for clean energy has been long won by the Greens – but then again it’s been long accepted by everyone; we all want cleaner, more efficient, lower consumption and cheaper energy, so where is the disagreement? There isn’t any.

    Some quick wins;

    Heat pumps; drop the demand for retro-fits. Start with new builds and see how they work out. So easy it hurts.

    ICE vehicle ban; push the deadline back to 2050. Pressure would be instantly relieved across the board in the entire supply-consumer chain.

    Hybrid; remove the 2035 ban altogether. An open goal for a sensible technology that is available now and works. Promote self-charging! This would massively remove pressure on a national charging network and national grid capacity, both problems which government has no chance of resolving within the timescales they’ve set.

    Gas ban: Get serious about gas as a transitional energy source. Accept it’ll be around for 50 years and legislate accordingly. Frack, and pay locals a share of gas resources.

    XR / Just Stop Oil: directly address those urban terrorist groups with a deadpan press release that we won’t be taking their advice. Increase jail terms for activist protests that prevent people from going about their business.

    All the above would remove intensely damaging time-related pressure points for everyone, while still maintaining deliverable progress towards reducing emissions and pollution.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      May 4, 2022 11:40 am

      Fancy a job as Prime Minister?

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        May 4, 2022 1:50 pm

        Got my vote, Mike. Well said, CR!

      • Michael permalink
        May 5, 2022 7:02 am

        He’d need to lower his ethics dramatically to qualify

    • Philip permalink
      May 4, 2022 12:46 pm

      Way too sensible a set of suggestions for anyone in politics to take on board and implement.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      May 4, 2022 1:02 pm

      Get XR/JSO to explain how the are going to replace everything created from or using hydro-carbons then remove anything created from or using Fossil Fuels.
      I’m convinced they think that the only things affected will be petrol and diesel.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        May 4, 2022 1:53 pm

        The JSO nutters are the PBI for those who would see the West go down. Now, I wonder who that could be….

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 4, 2022 4:28 pm

      Excellent set of recommendations.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      May 4, 2022 10:21 pm

      Why do you consider any of this will reduce pollution?

      • Cheshire Red permalink
        May 5, 2022 12:05 am

        I think natural evolution of cleaner tech’ will probably do as much as anything to reduce pollution, rather than big government interventions.

        Either way, that’s the direction of travel.

    • May 5, 2022 8:09 am

      Cheshire Red,

      no the greens have not won the argument, as they have no answer how so called ‘green’ electricity can be produced, they generally oppose nuclear, the Hobson’s choice for reliable non CO2 emitting generation. There will never be a transition from fossil fuelled generation to renewable generation despite government claims, all it does is make it less reliable and far more expensive.

      As to energy for heavy transport, aviation, marine etc we use what? None of the proposals will be cheap or as effective as current methods.

      The biggest hurdle is to overcome the belief in all the U.N. and it’s offshoot the IPCC’s claim that CO2 is causing all our current warming. There is no consensus amongst scientist as to the contribution of a doubling of CO2 concentration will cause, from near 0% to 100%.
      Yet our government’s in the West are committing vast amounts of money and pushing inferior
      technical devices to try and reduce the 4% or so of total CO2 emissions caused by fossil fuels and expect to change climate. Pure fairy tale.

      Incidentally there has been no warming now for over seven and a half years.

      • Cheshire Red permalink
        May 5, 2022 11:42 am

        I agree with your post; you’re spot on.

        I’ve never accepted the UN version of ‘climate change’ either, as I’m still waiting to see cause and effect for CO2 driving warming of the planet.

        My comments were a little more generic, aimed at UK policy problems. Reducing emissions (of anything we burn or emit) and reducing pollution in general is obviously a desirable outcome regardless of ‘climate change’ hysteria or any other influences.

        I was also trying to be pragmatic as currently Big Green ideology is running amok. There’s no way the same people responsible for NZ are going to back-track on NZ. Their reputations (and ‘legacies’) would be destroyed.

        So we have to offer step by step solutions that are doable rather than demand full NZ policy retraction, which simply won’t happen at this stage.

        It’s not ideal but how else do we extricate ourselves from this mess if not by small steps in the right direction?

    • robertliddell1 permalink
      May 5, 2022 4:42 pm

      Incredibly sensible

  8. Tim Pateman permalink
    May 4, 2022 11:39 am

    Can I recommend that, if anyone reading this has 5 or 10k to spend on their house, no one buy one of these rubbish devices but rather use their money to install an automatic back-up generator fuelled by LPG gas bottles or plumbed in to their domestic gas supply.

    The risk we all face going forward is not climate change but complete political incompetence, culminating in frequent and prolonged power cuts.

    I have and its already seen action twice in its first 5 months!

    • Philip permalink
      May 4, 2022 12:49 pm

      I have the generator. I’m not sure of the legality of plumbing it into the domestic gas supply though. I’m also considering wood burning stove to provide localised heating of the living area.

      • Tim Pateman permalink
        May 4, 2022 1:46 pm

        What legality? As long as your connection meets safety standards and is carried out by a registered ‘Gas Safe’ engineer then it’s legal. You have no obligation to tell your supplier what you do with the gas that you buy.

        The only reason I used bottled LPG is with 2 x 25kw boilers, an Aga and a gas hob my gas meter is maxed out and the cost of a new meter and larger pipework out to the main is prohibitive.

    • bobn permalink
      May 4, 2022 12:55 pm

      I’m with you Tim. I have a generator that mounts on a tractor 3pt link and PTO and plugs to my domestic supply if needed. I have various tractors but can use my small, old 25hp Massey to idle all day on a few pints of any diesel similar fuel (heating oil works). These old engines are far better than complex new ones as they’ll burn all kinds of mucky fuels. I’m thinking of fermenting fuel from my garbage -but you need old basic engines to burn this sort of stuff. Emissions might be amusing!

  9. dennisambler permalink
    May 4, 2022 2:20 pm

    The big con is why is any of this necessary in the first place. There is no climate crisis, none of this massive expenditure imposed on the citizenry will have any impact on the weather, but will massively enrich those with their snouts firmly embedded in the public money trough.

    In 2006, Labour think tank, IPPR, produced a paper entitled “Warm Words -How are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better?”, written by a Market Research consultant and a novelist.

    “Ultimately, positive climate behaviours need to be approached in the same way as marketeers approach acts of buying and consuming. It amounts to treating climate-friendly activity as a brand that can be sold. This is, we believe, the route to mass behaviour change.

    …it is our recommendation that, at least for popular communications, interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won. This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective.

    The ‘facts’ need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken. The certainty of the Government’s new climate-change slogan – ‘Together this generation will tackle climate change’ (Defra 2006) – gives an example of this approach. It constructs, rather than claims, its own factuality.

    Where science is invoked, it now needs to be as ‘lay science’ – offering lay explanations for what is being treated as a simple established scientific fact, just as the earth’s rotation or the water cycle are considered.

    The Tyndall Centre 2004:
    “We suggest that, in the realm of the public, forces act to maintain or denounce a perceived reality which has already been constructed. That is, an issue introduced by science (or media for that matter) needs continual expression of confirmation if it is to be maintained as an issue.

    To endorse policy change people must ‘believe’ that global warming will become a
    reality some time in the future.

    Only the experience of positive temperature anomalies will be registered as indication of
    change if the issue is framed as global warming.

    Both positive and negative temperature anomalies will be registered in experience as indication of change if the issue is framed as climate change.

    We propose that in those countries where climate change has become the predominant popular term for the phenomenon, unseasonably cold temperatures, for example, are also
    interpreted to reflect climate change/global warming.”

    These strategies have been very effective and most people are “believers”. Many actually want to believe the doom that is forecast, as with doomsday cults past.

    More here: Global Warming – The Social Construction Of A Quasi-Reality

    • Cheshire Red permalink
      May 4, 2022 7:03 pm

      Great post Dennis.

      All on the money too, with every weather event interpreted as either ‘benign’ – do nothing, or ‘extreme’ – scream like hell that ‘this is what climate change looks like’.

      We’re being gaslighted and lied to by activists on an everyday basis. Given the money and career rewards at stake I consider this behaviour to be self-beneficial or self-rewarding and therefore straight-up fraud.

  10. Auralay permalink
    May 4, 2022 7:38 pm

    Paul, you say “A fully insulated home may well work out slightly cheaper to run”. I think that is a red herring. A heat pump will be cheaper in a well insulated house, true, but the running costs of gas heating would also be less. The difference would probably be just as great.

  11. May 5, 2022 5:34 am

    I’m not an engineer – nor am I qualified to analyze your costing. I do find it odd, however, to compare your notes with an assertion by a deceased chap that super insulation of homes ( a practice starting around 1975 in Canada ) was designed to have costs of heating offset by recovering heat from stale air exhausted from the home via heat pump. You can see where that application is nowhere near the same as chasing outside resources – but does reduce indoor air pollution.

  12. Ray Sanders permalink
    May 5, 2022 11:34 am

    As those either old enough or those of the camping/caravanning fraternity will know, you can run types of refrigerators on gas using absorption cooling. Using virtually (but not quite exactly) the same technology you can run a heat pump off burning gas or any other heat source for that matter.,as%20gas-fired%20heat%20pumps.
    So for a fair economic comparison why not put an electric (vapour compression) heat pump up against a gas (absorption) powered one? Bet we all know which one will be cheaper to run by a country mile!

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