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Created on October 5, 2023

Updated on February 19, 2024

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The Complete Guide to Heat Pumps for Flats

Considering the installation of a heat pump in your apartment? Amidst the predominant focus on heat pumps for houses, it can be challenging to determine the feasibility of installing one in a flat, the associated costs, and the process for acquisition.

This article will address these queries and provide insights into the cost of a heat pump, its potential for energy bill savings, and the availability of grants to support the installation. If you prefer to bypass the details and connect with an installer, we can assist. Simply complete our brief form with relevant details, and we will connect you with certified heat pump installers who will offer their best prices.

heat pumps for flats

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Can you install a heat pump in a flat?

Certainly, it is feasible to install a heat pump in flats, although the process can be intricate.

When considering heat pump installations in flats, there are two options to consider. Flats can either have an individual heat pump, where a single unit provides heating for a single flat, or a block of flats can utilize a shared heat pump system.

In the case of a shared heat pump system, one or more primary heat pump units are installed externally and linked to individual indoor units installed in each flat.

Further details regarding the suitability of each set-up for different types of flats will be explored in the subsequent sections.

Individual heat pumps for flats

For flats with available outdoor space, such as a balcony or a garden, individual heat pumps are a viable option as they provide a location for housing the external unit of the heat pump.

In the case of flats with a balcony but no garden, air source heat pumps emerge as the sole feasible choice. However, the balcony should exceed the size of 1 square metre, which is the typical area required for an outdoor unit of an air source heat pump.

Furthermore, most flats with gardens will also necessitate an air source heat pump, as the probability of having the 100-square-metre garden essential for a ground source heat pump is minimal. Notably, the installation of an air source heat pump entails a cost that is at least £10,000 less than that of a ground source heat pump.

For flats lacking a balcony or garden, the outdoor unit of an air source heat pump could potentially be affixed to the exterior wall of the flat, akin to the installation of an air conditioning unit. However, it should be conveniently accessible from a window or the ground to facilitate maintenance work when necessary.

Shared heat pumps for blocks of flats

A sizable shared heat pump has the capacity to provide heating to an entire block of flats, and is predominantly the primary choice for high-rise buildings or blocks of flats lacking balconies or gardens.

Typically, this is accomplished through the utilization of ground source heat pumps. A collective ground loop, which is responsible for extracting heat from the earth, is buried in the vicinity of the block of flats and linked to individual indoor units installed within each flat.

Alternatively, a substantial primary air source heat pump could be situated on the roof and connected to individual units within the flats.

How do you get a heat pump for your flat?

If you intend to acquire a shared heat pump for a block of flats, you must seek permission from the freehold owner, unless you possess the entire building. This entails approaching the individual or entity that holds ownership of the property and the land upon which it is constructed.

Given that the implementation of this technology has only been introduced in recent years, there are currently few installers with the necessary qualifications to set up a shared heat pump system in a block of flats, potentially limiting your available choices.

For instance, Vaillant, a prominent heating technology developer in Europe, recently unveiled its inaugural heat pumps tailored specifically for flats in March 2023.

In the event that you wish to install an individual air source heat pump in a flat featuring a balcony or garden, it is imperative to ensure that you have the appropriate authorization to do so. If you are renting, you will require consent from the landlord or freeholder prior to the installation of a heat pump. Similarly, if you only possess a portion of the freehold, you may need consent from the other freeholders.

How much does a heat pump cost for a flat?

The cost of purchasing and installing an air source heat pump for a flat is approximately £7,000, while a ground source heat pump typically costs around £17,000.

These figures do not encompass the expenses associated with additional measures required to prepare a flat for a heat pump, such as the installation of larger radiators, improved insulation, and/or underfloor heating. We generally recommend these supplementary measures to ensure that your home remains comfortably warm, given that heat pumps generate heat at lower temperatures than traditional boilers.

The cost of implementing a shared heat pump system for a block of flats can vary significantly based on factors such as the size of the block, the number of flats within it, and the intricacy of the installation.

For instance, Enfield Council in London recently allocated £7.3 million for the retrofitting of 13 high-rise apartment blocks, encompassing approximately 400 flats, with a shared ground source heat pump. This equates to roughly £18,250 per flat, which is not much higher than the cost of installing a ground source heat pump for an individual household.

If you wish to obtain further information regarding the expenses associated with heat pumps, refer to our comprehensive guide.

Will a heat pump help you save on energy bills in a flat?

Switching from a gas boiler to a heat pump may not lead to immediate savings on your energy bills, as gas is presently less expensive than the electricity utilized by heat pumps. Consequently, transitioning to a heat pump from a gas boiler is likely to result in slightly elevated energy costs.

However, it is anticipated that the price of gas will increase in the future, while the cost of electricity is expected to decrease. As the government advocates for a transition away from fossil fuels such as gas and oil, there is a likelihood that electricity will become the most cost-effective method for heating homes. Consequently, while the initial switch may not yield immediate financial benefits, over time, a heat pump could lead to savings on energy expenditures.

Are there any government grants for heat pumps in flats?

There are four government grants available for individual heat pumps in flats, namely the Boiler Upgrade SchemeECO4Warmer Homes Scotland, and Nest Wales.

While these grants are not exclusively tailored for flats, there are no restrictions preventing individuals residing in flats from utilizing them, provided they satisfy the eligibility criteria.

For a concise overview of the available schemes for individual heat pumps in flats, please refer to the following table. To access further details about each scheme, visit our page dedicated to heat pump grants.

Grant

What it offers

Who it’s for

Boiler Upgrade Scheme

£7,500 towards the cost of buying and installing an air source heat pump

Homeowners, small landlords, and private landlords in England and Wales

ECO4

Covers some of the cost, but the amount depends on the energy supplier and the individual’s circumstances

Low-income households (homeowners and renters) who meet certain benefits criteria

Warmer Homes Scotland

Covers up to 100% of the costs

Homeowners or renters living in Scotland who meet certain benefits criteria

Nest Wales

Covers up to 100% of the costs

Homeowners or renters living in Wales, who live in an energy inefficient home, and who meet certain benefits criteria

At present, there are no ongoing grants available for shared heat pump systems in blocks of flats. However, there have been previous funding initiatives for local authorities, including the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) and the Sustainable Warmth Competition.

Although applications for both these schemes are no longer being accepted, it is highly probable that the government will introduce additional funding opportunities in the near future.

Next steps

It may present some challenges in certain scenarios to install heat pumps in flats as opposed to houses, but not due to flats being inherently unsuitable for them.

In reality, a government-funded project called The Electrification of Heat in 2020 concluded that all properties are appropriate for a heat pump. This initiative was devised to evaluate heat pumps in various types of residences, and they were able to successfully implement heat pumps in a range of properties, including flats and Victorian houses.

If you wish to determine the suitability of your flat for an individual heat pump, we can assist you. Simply provide some details in our form, and we will connect you with professional heat pump installers. They will then furnish you with quotes and expert guidance based on your specific requirements.

Get FREE Heat Pump Quotes
Find out how much a heat pump would cost you

Step 1 of 7

Complete A Short Form – Receive Free Quotes – Compare & Save

Get FREE Heat Pump Quotes
Find out how much a heat pump would cost you

Step 1 of 7

Complete A Short Form – Receive Free Quotes – Compare & Save

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