The humble heat pump – that unsung hero of energy efficiency and home heating. But what happens when the people installing them are more akin to cowboys than qualified professionals? Some unfortunate souls in the UK have found out the hard way that not all heat pump installers are created equal. Let’s conduct a satirical, yet oddly realistic, investigation.
First up, there’s the classic case of the heat pump being installed upside down. Sure, it might seem like common sense that the heat pump’s compressor should be at the bottom of the unit, but that’s just what the trade organisations and manufacturers want you to think. In reality, having the compressor on top means that the heat pump can harness the power of gravity to generate even more heat.
Next, an air-to-air heat pump that blasted cold air instead of warm throughout the winter. When the homeowner complained, the installer assured him that this was completely normal and that the air would eventually warm up. It never did, and the installer was never seen or heard from again.
A genuine classic. A heat pump system that doesn’t heat the house above 16C and costs £30/day to run. Installer rebuttal: the house was too cold to begin with and we did our best – try wearing some extra layers and invest in some mohair socks. When the installers arrived to install the heat pump, one was wearing a T-shirt with a cartoon of a melting snowman that read “Global Warming is a Myth.” The other was wearing a beanie with the words “I Fix Stuff” written on it with a Sharpie. That should have triggered alarm bells – you live, you learn.
Then there’s the bothersome issue of the piping. Now, we all suspect that a heat pump needs to be connected to your home’s existing heating system via a systematic network of pipes. But who says those pipes need to be properly insulated, sized or even connected to the right places? There’s no guidance for this. No books. No manuals. No certification. It’s all just a matter of trial and error, right? The industry term is “teething issues”.
And let’s not forget about electrical connections. Who needs all those fancy safety features when you can just connect everything with a bit of duct tape and a silent prayer? And if you happen to feel a slight tingle when you touch your heat pump, well, that just means it’s working extra hard to keep you warm. Potential defibrillator in waiting? Strong possibility. Top tip: try to find the installer’s “how-to” manual to ensure that none of the pages on electrical wiring and basic plumbing are missing.
And if all else fails, just remember: a heat pump can also make a great stand for potted plants.
So what can we do about these incompetent installers? Well, for starters, we can demand better training and certification for them. Maybe we can start a reality show where we follow them around and watch them mess up installations in hilarious ways. It would be like Britain’s Got Talent but for heat pump installers. Maybe something like Britain’s Got Heating Talent or Pump it Up: Installer Idol.
But seriously, when it comes to heating your home, it pays to do your research and hire a qualified professional. Check and double installer credentials. Get word of mouth recommendations. Ask questions and get advice on our forums. Failing that, invest in a nice, warm blanket.