Oxford University Study Proves That Heat Pumps Work!

ASHP Winter UK

While heat pumps excel in milder climates, doubts have lingered (courtesy of certain media outlets) about their performance in chilly places like the UK. But a new Oxford University study is turning up the heat on those concerns, demonstrating that heat pumps can be a powerful and efficient heating solution even in UK winters.

Here’s the key takeaway: heat pumps extract heat from outside air, working harder in colder temperatures. This sparked questions about their efficiency compared to traditional options like gas boilers. The good news? The research published in Joule found that heat pumps are two to three times more efficient than oil and gas boilers, even at temperatures as low as -20°C!

Duncan Gibb, senior advisor at the Regulatory Assistance Project, which published the study, explains: “While a heat pump will work harder in sub-zero temperatures, it will still use significantly less energy than other heating sources, making it a more efficient and environmentally friendly option.”

So, claims about plummeting efficiency in colder weather can be tossed out the window. As Gibb, a Canadian living in France, aptly puts it: “Their efficiency doesn’t drop so low that they become ineffective.”

The study gathered data from across Europe and North America, revealing that standard heat pumps are two to three times more efficient in places like the UK, where -10°C isn’t uncommon. For even colder regions, “cold climate” heat pumps still pack a punch, offering 1.5 to two times more efficiency down to -30°C.

To measure effectiveness, the study used the coefficient of performance (COP). A COP of 200% means the heat pump delivers double the heat for every unit of energy it uses. That’s significantly higher than gas and oil boilers, which generate heat, often with significant energy losses. This translates to lower electricity bills and reduced dependence on fossil fuels, making heat pumps a key player in the UK’s net-zero emissions journey.

While efficiency is crucial, comfort matters too. Studies show that people who switch to heat pumps often report improved comfort, with 81% of respondents in a European survey feeling warmer after installation. Similar results were found in a US study, where over 75% of participants appreciated the increased comfort.

This research aims to dispel negative myths surrounding heat pumps in cold climates. However, Gibb also emphasises the need for support programmes to make these efficient heating solutions accessible to low-income households. Existing initiatives like free heat pump programmes in Canada offer valuable inspiration for similar schemes in the UK.

So, don’t let outdated concerns about chilly winters hold you back from embracing the heat pump revolution. By opting for this efficient and sustainable technology, you can not only enjoy a comfortable home but also contribute to a greener future for the UK.

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