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Replacing a gas boiler with a heat pump is "irrational"

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(@mike-patrick)
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I just came across this report

which is critical of the financial case for heat pumps. It's from an industry organisation https://www.eua.org.uk/ (Energy & Utilities Alliance) I'd not heard of before which has a raft of papers on heating issues.

I don't think they are a lobby group with a particular agenda (eg pro fossil fuels) so their points seem valid - as does their observation that the cons, as well as the pros, of heat pumps don't get proper coverage in the overall campaign to persuade the public to junk their gas boilers.

 

Mike

Grant Aerona HPID10 10kWh ASHP


   
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 robl
(@robl)
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I agree that it's unlikely that with the present electricity/gas cost ratio that heatpumps are "financial rational", which is the premise of the link. 

That's a bit blinkered though!  What about climate change?  It's cheaper to just carry on as we are?

I expect that elec/gas price ratio will decrease in future.  I'd also expect heatpump costs to radically decrease in future, and eventually be the "financially rational" choice.


   
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(@allyfish)
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My personal take: 'playing to the gallery' The overwhelming membership of the EUA seem to be from the fossil fuel and direct electric heating industries. Very little representation from renewables.

First glance is that the cost assumptions used to generate the report conclusions seem skewed to achieve a pre-ordained outcome. Costs of ASHP install seem high and costs of boiler replacement low.

There's some illogical statements such as: 'Having External Wall cladding fitted, to make a home suitable for a heat pump to function effectively, rules out a heat pump switch on financial grounds.'

Taking that to a logical conclusion, all heating appliances are unsuitable for solid stone wall application. The heat energy to heat a property with low fabric U value is a constant. "Let's heat the street with gas because gas is cheaper" is not a sound basis to conclude that ASHP is not suitable on financial grounds for less well insulated homes.

There are good installers [Heacol et al] who can achieve great results and high CoPs with ASHP and GSHP in older listed and historic solid wall properties. An Edwardian or Victorian solid stone wall mid-terrace house is perfectly suited to ASHP. The increased heat loss through two solid stone external walls is largely offset by negligible heat loss through party walls. With good draught proofing, loft insulation and high performance fenestration & doors, the total dwelling heat loss can be comparable to a similar sized modern detached Part L compliant property with 4 external walls.

If we are serious about climate change, surely ditching gas to heat such properties is the right approach? Using less energy and harvesting enthalpy from the air or ground has to be right, but of course with a purely financial assessment, that gets entirely disregarded when there's a clear self-interest bias in the agenda.

 


   
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Jeff
 Jeff
(@jeff)
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Posted by: @robl

I agree that it's unlikely that with the present electricity/gas cost ratio that heatpumps are "financial rational", which is the premise of the link. 

That's a bit blinkered though!  What about climate change?  It's cheaper to just carry on as we are?

I expect that elec/gas price ratio will decrease in future.  I'd also expect heatpump costs to radically decrease in future, and eventually be the "financially rational" choice.

For bog standard mains gas households without EV, solar, battery etc. the electricity/gas ratio is now going to increase a little at least in the short term simply as the gas price went up a huge amount and has now fallen by a huge amount. 

OVO broke cover today and launched a 1 year fixed where the ratio is higher than the default standard variable rate. 

I expect we will see more over the next few months. 

 


   
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(@ronin92)
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It really doesn't help if the head of Bosch UK claims "Heat pumps won't work in old homes".

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2023/03/14/heat-pumps-wont-work-old-homes-warns-bosch/

He advocates hydrogen boilers instead.  Burning hydrogen must rank as one of the worst solutions to climate change.  If I use blue hydrogen, I'm betting on carbon capture to work really well and cheaply or I might as well burn gas instead.  If it's green hydrogen, I would be more efficient using an electric fan heater instead.


   
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Abernyte
(@abernyte)
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Of course the head of Bosch said no such thing. What he did say was " heat pumps did not make sense for older homes that lack extensive insulation or were not detached."  That statement is worthy of debate but not entirely wrong.

The headline is always a lie, even more so in the media source from which it came which runs a negative renewable fantasy tale every day.


   
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(@fazel)
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We all know they don't work in poorly insulated and leaky houses so that's fair enough. However, there is a political bias when it comes to ASHP. Google Telegraph and heat pumps then google The Guardian and heat pumps and you get this:

image
image

   
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 mjr
(@mjr)
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Posted by: @fazel
We all know they don't work in poorly insulated and leaky houses so that's fair enough

Do we know that? Surely they work but heating will cost lots if poorly insulated and leaky, possibly more than an oversize gas burner.


   
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(@mike-patrick)
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Leaving aside the prejudices of the Telegraph and the Guardian I think it is fair to say that many of us on these forums (sorry, fora) are here because we have had a less than ideal experience with heat pumps. We are trying to find answers to why this is. The technology is well established but clearly its implementation in the UK domestic heating environment has been variable.

Are ASHPs really as efficient as advertised across a wide external air temperature range? Are failures to get as good performance as hoped for due to the pumps themselves or mostly down to poor design and/or installation of the overall system of which they are a part?

The controls and operating readouts on most heat pumps are hardly consumer friendly and there are far too few installers who really know what they are talking about. The rating of heat pumps on EPCs acts as a disincentive to installing them. None of this is conducive to a major rollout of the technology, at scale, across the country.

When I lived in a previous house with a gas boiler I would never had dreamed that one day, when I had a heat pump, I would develop such a level of involvement with my domestic heating and hot water system. I used to just pay the gas bill each quarter. Now I take daily recordings of electricity use and max/min outside temperatures. It's almost become a topic of after dinner conversation with friends who also have or are contemplating a heat pump. This is not a good sign!

Life would have been much simpler (and cheaper), when renovating our current house, if I had installed an oil or propane fired (we don't have mains gas) boiler. While 40% of grid electricity is still generated by burning fossil fuels I'm not sure that heat pumps, so far, contribute much to reducing national CO2 emissions.

 

Mike

 

Grant Aerona HPID10 10kWh ASHP


   
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(@ronin92)
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@mjr They may need wholesale emitter replacement to work or alternatively, use of high temp heat pumps but they can work.  As you say, it's what it costs to operate that's the rub.

From here, at end-2020, one infers there were 6.1 million houses with cavity walls that haven't been insulated, 8.5 million lofts uninsulated, 7.7 million solid walls uninsulated despite continuing campaigns which is a bit disappointing.  There are still easy wins available with a lot of homes that would make them easier to heat whatever the heat source is.

There is also the other aspect of whether you have the option of doing nothing about climate change and getting away with it.  If you don't then whatever is necessary must be done.  And I think that hydrogen is inappropriate whatever Bosch think.

There really appear to be a lot of vested interests determined to do nothing though.


   
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Toodles
(@toodles)
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@ronin92 As you say ronin, vested interests seem to be prevalent; I’d go as far as to say that they are the Tail Wagging the Dog! I’m 75 and unless I am very lucky, am unlikely to see a huge return on my investment in a ASHP, a PV panel installation along with a battery and power diverter with a heat battery for DHW heating - I might well see a very satisfactory return in ‘satisfaction and personal smugness’ overall though;-))). I have saved for years and through personal circumstances that result in low expenditure per year (no car, don’t smoke or drink, don’t gamble or have holidays etc.) and have thus been lucky enough to have the savings to spend some £40,000 on renewables in the last 18 months. ROI is, as I say unlikely to occur in my lifetime, but my daughter may well take it over when our clogs pop - and I feel we are doing our bit towards climate change mitigation.

When researching the projects, I spoke to numerous people and organisations - heat pumps in particular are very unpopular with some - and they seem to be the people and organisations with vested interest in carrying on with natural gas or even going as far as saying ‘wait for hydrogen’. It seems to me that ‘Blue Hydrogen’ is a disaster in the offing and will do litle or nothing towards improving matters. It seems that vested interests are clearly influencing the less informed masses and unless the small minority of the population of the globe are able to evangelise, then all the hot air from national governments is likely to just add to global warming and the oil companies will continue to make billions of ponds / dollars for whatever time we may have left on this planet - the dinosaurs had their day - are we to follow?

Regards, Toodles.

Toodles, 76 years young and hoping to see 100 and make some ROI on my renewable energy investment!


   
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jamespipe
(@jamespipe)
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Posted by: @toodles

It seems to me that ‘Blue Hydrogen’ is a disaster in the offing and will do litle or nothing towards improving matters.

And green hydrogen?

 


   
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