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How heat pumps leave some homes so cold people are ripping them out

March 9, 2023

By Paul Homewood


From the Daily Mail:


To heat pump, or not to heat pump? That is the question. The answer is a resounding: NO.
That is what readers have told us in response to our article questioning heat pumps and the Government’s £450 million scheme to convince us to install the eco-friendly boiler alternatives.
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, launched last May, offers grants of up to £6,000 if homeowners rip out their gas boiler and install an air or ground source heat pump.
Homeowners who have bought homes with heat pumps already installed – or purchased new builds where pumps were part of the package – have told us about a litany of problems associated with the technology.
This is despite their overwhelming desire to do their bit to save the planet from self-destruction.
Some have got so fed up with them they have had them removed — or installed additional heating systems to step in when the pumps don’t generate enough heat.
Many of the critics are knowledgeable. They include retired engineers and current installers of heat pumps.
Some believe the Government is now in danger of committing a misselling scandal to match that of the promotion of diesel cars in the early 2000s by the Labour government — even though diesel fuel was known to contain pollutants harmful to health.
One engineer told us: ‘The nationwide promotion of heat pumps as replacements for gas boilers needs to be challenged.
Not just economically, but also on availability, reliability and functionality issues. It could easily turn out to be the next major government misselling scandal.’


The best conditions for heat pumps

In defence of heat pumps, both users and installers say they perform well during certain times of the year — spring, summer and autumn (in other words, when they are least needed) — and are good for the environment.

They can also be quiet when new or if only low levels of power are required. But these advantages are outweighed by the negatives.

Heat pumps, typically installed outside at the back or side of a house, perform poorly in cold winter weather, especially if a home is inadequately insulated or the radiators are not big enough to give off sufficient heat.

Furthermore, when running at full power in winter or if key components (fan bearings for example) are suffering from wear and tear, the pumps can be noisy. Repairs are also expensive while the pumps are quite complex to operate.



I’m happy with my heat pump but would urge caution

Bill Griffiths bought a new build four-bedroom home four years ago, in a village close to Alfreton, Derbyshire. It came fitted with an air source pump.

Bill, a former chemist at nearby engineering giant Rolls-Royce, says he is generally happy with his heat pump, ‘a hefty unit with a double fan that sits outside behind the garage’.

This heats a 400-litre water tank (inside the garage) with a supporting buffer tank stopping the heat pump from continually switching on and off.

‘It’s noisy when it’s working hard,’ he says. ‘Akin to a loud extraction fan in your bathroom.’

Noise aside, the 74-year-old says the heating device comes with ‘significant issues’ which those contemplating buying one should be aware of.

He explains: ‘Given the current price differential between gas and electricity — respectively, 10p and 34p per kilowatt hour (kWh) — the heat pump has to run super efficiently for it to reap financial benefits.’

He adds: ‘That means an ambient temperature [the outside temperature] of around 10 c [50F] or higher. Any lower temperature and the pump loses efficiency.’

For example, on February 16 this year, when the temperature was 8C, Bill says the heat pump consumed 19kWh of electricity, costing £6.46, in producing 72kWh of heat.

If gas had been used, the cost would have been higher at £7.20. One nil to the heat pump — a saving for the day of 74p.

But a day earlier, the temperature was lower, at 5C. This meant it took more power (21.2kWh at a cost of £7.20) to produce 59.8kWh of heat. In this instance, the daily cost of gas would have come out cheaper at £5.98 — a saving of £1.22. One all.

Bill concludes: ‘It is an unfortunate paradox that as the weather gets colder, the cost of air pump heating increases — and when heating is not required, the heat pump achieves maximum efficiency.’

As a result, he advises homeowners not to contemplate an air pump unless their property is well insulated. It should also be exposed to the sun when it shines because this increases the surrounding air temperature and improves the pump’s efficiency.

Crucially, the financial mathematics don’t work while electricity remains far more expensive than gas. Like others who contacted us with expert knowledge about how heat pumps work (or don’t work), Bill says there is a danger that they are being missold to many homeowners.


“But I don’t like tepid baths or showers — and I prefer being kept warm when a gale is blowing outside”


We put in a back-up heating systems for heat pumps

Peter Taylor, from Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, also sits in this camp. Peter, a retired electronics engineer, inherited two air source heat pumps when he bought his current property nine years ago.

In autumn last year, he decided to install a new oil heating system — not to replace the heat pumps, but to kick in during the winter when the pumps don’t work efficiently. He is delighted he took the step.

Peter says: ‘Air source heat pumps are useless when the outside air is between –1C and 3C — and the conditions are foggy and humid. They cause the outside fan unit to repeatedly ice up, resulting in insufficient hot water to heat the house.’

The design of these pumps, he says, is ‘fundamentally flawed’ and their promotion through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme a ‘potential misselling scandal’.

Christine and Alan Holland, from Hungerford in Berkshire, have gone down the same route, installing wood burning stoves to complement the two heat pumps in their Georgian home.

‘It is impossible to get the pumps to provide us with heat up to 20C, without them running 24 hours, seven days a week,’ says 76-year-old Christine. ‘Their cost then became unaffordable.’

With the stoves now in operation, Christine says they are ‘cosy again’. ‘My view,’ she adds, ‘is that heat pumps are only suitable for small new build properties that are fitted out with the very best insulation.’

Chris Wiggin got rid of the heat pump in his home four years ago —and he doesn’t regret it for one minute. Chris, a 79-year-old retired engineer, bought his four-bedroom bungalow near Bishops Cleeve in Gloucestershire five years ago.

It came with a heat pump. But he soon realised the pump could not heat the radiators beyond lukewarm. He spent most of the autumn of 2018 ‘freezing’ in the home he shares with wife Linda.

‘I had a choice,’ he says. ‘I could replace the radiators with larger ones, or install underfloor heating.’ But he chose neither, instead opting for a gas boiler.

With the Government determined to ban the installation of new gas boilers from 2035, Chris says it has a lot of work to do if it wants to convince the general public of the merits of heat pumps.

‘I can see heat pumps being a damp squib,’ he opines.

The final word goes to Dilys Lownsborough, a retired fashion designer, who bought a West Sussex new-build property seven years ago with an air source pump located at the back.

Dilys had countless problems with the unit as a result of it breaking down. Three years ago, she had it removed.

Yesterday, she told Money Mail: ‘There will be people out there who think heat pumps are wonderful.

‘But I don’t like tepid baths or showers — and I prefer being kept warm when a gale is blowing outside. 


Regular readers will be very familiar with all of these complaints; their uselessness in winter, the fact that they cost more to run, noisiness and so on.

Two particular comments struck me though:

1) The comment that the fans tend to ice up in humid and foggy weather.

2) Their inability to provide really hot water.

As I have often pointed out, most houses will need stand alone electric water heaters/immersion tanks because of the latter point. Not only will these add to capital costs, but the cost of energy will be three times that of a gas boiler.


It is one thing for both Labour and Tories to advocate and plan for heat pumps. But will either party actually ban gas boilers come the 2030s? I suspect whoever does will be committing electoral suicide.

  1. ancientpopeye permalink
    March 9, 2023 5:15 pm

    Should have had more sense than to fit them or was it the bribe?

  2. March 9, 2023 5:19 pm

    The Blob’s solution. Increase gas prices x3. To hell with efficiency we have a world to save ( and loads of lolly to make).

  3. Andrew Harding permalink
    March 9, 2023 5:23 pm

    There was a discussion on Jeremy Vines’ Radio 2 show. The number of satisfied heat pump customers who were satisfied was greatly exceeded by those who weren’t.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      March 9, 2023 5:36 pm

      It’s odds on that every satisfied customer got through to talk to the cyclist.

      • March 9, 2023 11:37 pm

        Like every bit of government propaganda, we will never know how many negative callers were”put on hold” while they searched for the delusional few that got through.

    • col1664 permalink
      March 10, 2023 7:46 am

      Also, on GB News yesterday, an expert telling Eammon Holmes that a heat pump should be the primary heat source and that you should have additional elements (immersion heater for your hot water, electric radiators, gas fire I guess) for when the heat pump is not enough. So, £15,000 for a new heating system that doesn’t provide you with all the heat and hot water you want when you want it…..just like wind and solar.

  4. March 9, 2023 5:29 pm

    Until the Laws of Thermodynamics are repealed or rewritten, you will never be able to heat a home with radiators sized for 180 degree F water using the 120 degree F water coming from the pathetic ‘lil heat pump in the back yard. Never gonna happen. Oh, those pesky laws of TDN; what’s a green wanna-be to do?

  5. peter lawrenson permalink
    March 9, 2023 5:39 pm

    I am waiting to see a complete estate (either refurbished or new) fitted with heat pumps. Only when we have bulk data from people who are not particularly engineers or climate enthusiasts, then we can make a decision on ” are they good or bad”. Until then, all we get is single users and their specific experiences.

    • Aaron Halliwell permalink
      March 9, 2023 5:50 pm

      Just because it doesn’t work won’t mean the authorities will admit it. Oldham Council installed a district heating system on a new estate in the 1960s. It never worked properly and was expensive for users. It took years before they finally dumped it.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        March 9, 2023 10:08 pm

        In 2018 a plumber friend fitted a 2 year old Vaillant combi boiler in a rental for me that had been taken out of social housing in South East London. The flats, it and others were in, were being retro fitted with a district heating system. He is now refitting new combi boilers in the same flats as the district heating system never properly worked!

    • T Walker permalink
      March 9, 2023 10:34 pm

      Well the Redrow CEO has announced that all their houses in future will have heat pumps..

      We will see how that works out!!,

  6. Joe Public permalink
    March 9, 2023 5:42 pm

    Even the BBC’s ECU was forced into another back-track 3 weeks ago.

    Some other alert reader complained:

    16 February 2023

    A reader complained that the original version of the article was misleading because it said heat pumps were cheaper to run than gas boilers. In their submission to the ECU they said an amended version was also inaccurate because “The claim that running costs are comparable is not supported by facts, the heat pumps remain much more expensive to operate and install, unless misleading comparisons are made”. The ECU considered whether the article met the BBC’s standards of due accuracy.


    The article looked at six areas where the UK Government could reduce carbon emissions to meet its target of net zero by 2050. The first option was to change the way we heat our homes and the original version of the article included the following:

    It [the Government] could set a date for ending the sale of gas boilers. And it could go further.

    There’s a cleaner alternative to gas boilers: heat pumps. They are much cheaper to run but the initial cost, at £6,000 and upwards, puts most people off.

    BBC News accepts it was not accurate to say heat pumps are “much cheaper to run” and, to that extent, the article failed to meet the BBC’s standards. However the article was changed some hours after the initial publication to read as follows:

    There’s a cleaner alternative to gas boilers: heat pumps. They can have comparable running costs to a conventional gas heating system, but the initial installation cost at £6000 and upwards, puts most people off.

    The available evidence suggests it is not easy to make a direct comparison between the costs of heating a home with a heat pump (either air source or ground source) and heating the same home with a conventional gas central heating system. There are numerous variables, excluding the installation costs, which make a comparison difficult. In the ECU’s view it was therefore duly accurate for the amended version of the article to state heat pumps “can have comparable running costs to a conventional gas heating system” as it contains the clear inference that there can be situations in which the running costs may be comparable but this will not always be the case.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 9, 2023 7:46 pm

      You can of course compare heating costs between different systems, despite the BBC denial of that: just look at the bills and the projected life of the kit. Technically, that makes them “comparable”. However, if the result is that one typically costs twice the other, that hardly makes the cost comparable in the sense of roughly the same. Sophistry from the BBC. The complainant should take it further.

  7. silverfox453 permalink
    March 9, 2023 5:52 pm

    How do you provide heat pumps for inner city blocks of flats? The whole concept is fatally flawed. Heat pumps should be used as a feeder source of partially heated water to be brought up to a usable temperature by conventional sources, gas , electricity, oil. The government is in thrall to the green lobby and refuses to accept that heat pumps as a primary heat source is a non starter.

  8. Chris Phillips permalink
    March 9, 2023 5:59 pm

    Heat pumps in other countries typically warm air which is circulated around the house through large ducts. This fine in a new build but such ducts cannot be retro- fitted to existing houses, and in Britain nearly all house have water radiators, which are not capable of being efficiently heated by heat pumps. Even with circulated hot air installations, the heat pump normally has an auxiliary electrical resistance heater (that is like an old fashioned electric fire) in the ducting to top up the heat when outside temperatures go below freezing. This operates automatically and owners who smugly report how “toasty” their heat pump makes their house are typically ignorant of this feature – which greatly increases electricity consumption.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 9, 2023 8:01 pm

      And so it seems are those who are making Net Zero plans for 2050, because they only ever assume that heat pumps operate at a COP of 2-3, ignoring the fact that in cold weather the COP drops to 1 as resistance heating takes over – or perhaps below, as the heat pump has to be protected from freezing itself and consumes heat to keep warm.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 9, 2023 8:23 pm

        The implication of course is that much more generating capacity is required to meet a winter demand peak than they assume – indeed, they are usually assuming the opposite, i.e. that they can impose a bit of demand side response a.k.a. power cuts.

      • March 9, 2023 11:21 pm

        Well said. I could heat an igloo if I had enough resistance coils of “strip heat” available, but what would that cost?

      • Chris Phillips permalink
        March 10, 2023 11:39 am

        Yes, most heat pumps have resistance heating elements (that is like old fashioned electric fires) built in and which switch on automatically when the outside air temperature drops below freezing and the heat pump can’t extract enough heat. A lot of heat pump owners who smugly declare that their heat pumps keep them ” toasty” don’t realise this and are then surprised at their electricity bills.

      • John Brown permalink
        March 10, 2023 11:16 am

        They think the COP is 4! I quote from P241 paragraph 957 of “Mission Zero” :

        “For example, the energy output of a heat pump is four times greater than the electrical energy used to run it. This makes current heat pump models 3‐5 times more energy efficient than gas boilers. Currently, heat pumps are cheaper to run than gas boilers”

      • March 10, 2023 1:41 pm

        Dream on, Green-boy. That magical COP of 4 drops to one–or a fraction- when it gets cold out side. And once the strip heat kicks in the electric meter wheel will be moving at escape velocity. You have been lied to.

      • John Brown permalink
        March 10, 2023 6:56 pm

        I certainly don’t believe the COP figure of 4. In fact I was pointing out the nonsense coming from BEIS’ “Mission Zero review.

  9. iananthonyharris permalink
    March 9, 2023 6:06 pm

    The sheer lunacy and impracticability of Govt attempts to reach Net Zero in spite of our contribution of around 1% is crazy. Of course, when reality finally sinks in, the present shower will long have departed to the Lords, or well-paid jobs on the boards of companies they were supposed to regulate. The whole global warming thing is nonsense anyway.

    Keep up the good work!

    Ian Harris

    PO21 1HW

  10. Athelstan permalink
    March 9, 2023 6:15 pm

    The daily torygraph never ceases to promote heat pumps with gusto ask aep. In the letters pages, input from happy heat pumpers is their repeat propaganda and nauseous. Some bloke the other day showing off about his dual 350′ boreholes, I wonder how much that cost – of course he didn’t mention that sort of specifics, naturally.

  11. dearieme permalink
    March 9, 2023 7:04 pm

    The answer is that all internal combustion engine cars should tow a trailer carrying a large, well insulated water tank which will be coupled to the car’s radiator so that the water is heated by the waste heat from the engine. Then when the car gets home the hot water will be pumped into a tank in the house and the trailer’s tank will be filled with cold water for the next day.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  12. Philippa Lloyd permalink
    March 9, 2023 7:28 pm

    Torygraph promoting heat pumps? Are we reading same paper? Most articles I’ve read are quite negative about them. Letters page is a different matter – probably written by fifth columnists from the Grauniad?

  13. GeoffB permalink
    March 9, 2023 7:32 pm

    The Newcastle heat pump trial report is supposed to issue the final report this month, two years ago they installed about 350 units for FREE. I tried to get info on running costs from the consultants organising the trial, but no success, not available! There are 2 other area trials going on, so about 1000 heat pumps installed for free. Watch this space for the results…….maybe.

  14. Ray Sanders permalink
    March 9, 2023 7:39 pm

    An interesting point to note…the Government has very limited powers to actually ban things. Want to buy a 100W incandescent light bulb? Surely they were “banned” years ago. Nope, just buy a “Rough Service” light bulb – same thing, different name.,compared%20to%20regular%20incandescent%20bulbs.
    Banning internal combustion cars….nope not happening.
    Banning “Gas” boilers is also not going to happen. They can fiddle about with building control on new builds but just wait and see what happens when nobody in their right minds buys a new house with an ASHP.

    • John Brown permalink
      March 10, 2023 11:21 am

      They will be able to ban purchases of new gas boilers (and spare parts) and ices and furthermore they will simply cut off the gas for boilers and remove ices from the road through rampling up VED and restricting access to roads. They do have the necessary powers.

  15. March 9, 2023 7:55 pm

    their *overwhelming* desire to do their bit to save the planet from self-destruction

    How many of these deluded types can there be?

    • March 9, 2023 9:01 pm

      That line did rather stand out. My question: how exactly is the planet going to “self-destruct”?

      • col1664 permalink
        March 10, 2023 7:54 am

        On a scale of 1 to 50, where one is “CO2 is so low all plants, trees and animals (including humans obviously) die” and 50 is “the highest we know CO2 to have been ” where are we now?
        Answer = 3. The planet needs more CO2, not less…..

  16. March 9, 2023 8:18 pm

    But surely Nos. 10 & 11 are entirely heated by ASHPs now, aren’t they? I’m sure the (so-called) Government wouldn’t wish it on us without trying it themselves first.
    By the way, has anybody noticed that if an entire town were to be heated in winter by ASHPs, that would significantly lower the ambient air temperature?

    • kzbkzb permalink
      March 10, 2023 1:04 am

      I thought of that cooling effect too. It has to be said, heat pumps are energy consuming and therefore they must produce net warming. However, the ASHP cools the air outside the property whereas the heat ends up inside. Cold air sinks, and in calm weather conditions in densely populated areas, possibly there will be a layer of colder air near ground level. Be interesting if anyone has studied this as a possibility.

      • John Brown permalink
        March 10, 2023 11:23 am

        You wouldn’t want to live at the bottom of a high rise block of flats.

  17. lordelate permalink
    March 9, 2023 9:28 pm

    Think I’ll stick to my 20kw oil fired range cooker (approx 1l of oil per hr when flat out) and my 14 kw log burner. they both run the hot water and C/H.
    I accept I am lucky to have endless free fire wood.

  18. March 10, 2023 6:36 am

    Interesting heat pumps. The only kind I know are those which send warmish air down from near the ceiling using fans. These are from China I think and are shipped to New Zealand and other countries. Though with a Japanese name Fu**tsu. See on line adverts on Youtube .
    They don,t warm a room when there are winter temperatures outside and the dry air damages furniture. Radiant heat is better but radiators ,oil
    filled electric , are pathetic, IMHO
    Heatpumps are favoured by environmentalists though factory made and traded from the Northern Hemisphere on big ships .

  19. Brian permalink
    March 10, 2023 7:10 am

    I urge everyone to look at every day as this shows the source of power generation by the National Grid. Renewables only work when “ Mother Nature” allows. During the winter months solar in the south of England produces next to nothing.

  20. Brian permalink
    March 10, 2023 7:15 am

    Check out for a breakdown of the sources of energy that the National Grid relies upon. This is real time info.

  21. John Brown permalink
    March 10, 2023 11:33 am

    If the government forces the end of gas boilers by cutting off the gas supply then I would be investigating purchasing far infrared heaters, which can also be portable and hence movable from room to room. The capital cost is far cheaper than installing a heat pump. I don’t know the running cost but the advantage is that they warm the body directly, like being in the sun.

    • March 10, 2023 1:37 pm

      Do not forget about the shadow effect with radiant heat. Your toes will be cold at the dinner table if you don’t were two pairs of socks and some furry slippers.

      • John Brown permalink
        March 10, 2023 7:09 pm

        I expect you’re correct. It will depend upon placement of the radiators. And hopefully as the radiant heat wams the walls and the table etc. these will radiate heat to my feet. The possible heat saving advantages are not heating the air and not causing draughts. I’ve no idea if they work but they’re comparatively so cheap that I would try them before ripping out my gas boiler, re-plumbing the house with larger bore piping, fitting larger radiators and fitting a noisy, expensive heat pump that will also require yearly maintenance (unlike infrared radiators). I’d like to hear from someone who has these fitted in their home.

      • March 10, 2023 9:59 pm

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Mr. Brown. Electric heat of any form has the advantage of no “chimney loss” but it is also quite expensive to use. I would not count on radiant heaters warming up the walls of your flat. Consider the “inverse square law” when discussing any form of radiant energy; it drops by the square of the distance from the source. Just sit in front of it and you should be fine. Good luck, Wm G.

  22. Realist permalink
    March 10, 2023 12:12 pm

    But without any subsidies or tax exemptions
    >>promotion of diesel cars in the early 2000s by the Labour government

  23. Brian permalink
    March 10, 2023 2:14 pm

    Can I suggest that you copy in your MP to your posts. Don’t just moan.
    They were not changes we voted for, but are being foisted upon us by unelected elites, such as the WEF.
    Do wise up.

  24. March 17, 2023 8:10 am

    “It is one thing for both Labour and Tories to advocate and plan for heat pumps. But will either party actually ban gas boilers come the 2030s? I suspect whoever does will be committing electoral suicide.”

    They already did that with NetZero!


  1. The climate scaremongers: Homeowners are ripping out useless heat pumps – The Conservative Woman : Inside UK – INSIDE UK NET

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