pros and cons of heat pump

Heat Pumps. The Secret of Becoming Popular

Taking into consideration the continuous growth of energy tariffs together with environmental carbon dioxide pollution, conventional energy sources, such as coal, oil or fossil fuels have become an unpopular option. Employing new technologies therefore seems to be the only right solution for domestic heating.

Although renewable technologies have been already used at scale in Northern and Central Europe, the UK’s consumers are just getting acquainted with heat pumps. It is little wonder that switching to new green solutions for some families could be quite a challenge. People got used to traditional household heating systems as they look more reliable and easier to operate. Moreover, the economic and environmental advantages the air source heat pumps can provide you with are not that obvious and need further explanation. Surprisingly, but many people in the UK are still unaware of the RHI, a financial aid from the government that lets you get a rebate up to 80% of your initial installation costs; significant energy bills cuts, especially for non-gas regions; to say nothing of drastic reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, etc.

But, even if you perfectly well know all the merits of heat pumps and ready to have one of this kind installed in your house, make sure first you see the difference between two main types of heat pumps, that is air-to-water and water-to-water.

The Difference Between Air-to-Water and Water-to-Water Heat Pumps

There doesn’t exist a generally accepted opinion about which of the types is better. However, there is a practical knowledge that allows us to compare some of their characteristics and come to understanding which one will be more efficient for your home.

Thus, the installation costs of water-to-water (ground source) heat pumps are considerably higher than those of the air-to-water type. In the meantime, operational expenses for both types are merely the same. The thing they do differ from each other is their functioning principles. So let’s have a closer look on these heat pumps to realise what you really need.

Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps of Both Types

In the cold season, a water-to-water heat pump may have slightly better performance results as the ground collector it uses can demonstrate higher COP at lower temperatures. For an air-to-water type it is more preferable to operate at temperatures around 3-5 degrees Celsius. During the summer season, however, water-to-water pumps turn out to be a little bit less effective when it comes to water heating.

  • An average air-to-water heat pump work efficiently enough at temperatures below zero, say -15 or -20 degrees Celsius, providing your house has decent wall and loft insulation together with a proper underfloor heating system. At even lower temperatures a water-to-water heat pump may have slightly higher COP, since the ground waters it employs to generate heat are warmer than the ambient air used by an air-to-water heat pump. This feature however is not so crucial for the UK as it is for northern European countries like Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Moreover, all modern models of air-to-water heat pumps perform reasonable well at lower temperatures. All you need to do is to find a trusted installer with quality equipment.
  • With operation efficiency being much the same the initial installation costs of these two types of heat pumps may differ immensely. Water-to-water or ground source heat pumps require much more time and expenses due to trench digging and other complex fitting activities. Air-to-water’s external unit , on the other hand, needs no complicated installation plan as it can be mounted at the back wall or in the loft of your house, thus making the installation price much less than that of its counterpart.
  • A ground collector, that is a core component of a water-to-water heat pump, runs on a cooling agent of greater density than an air-to-water’s refrigerant. It makes a water-to-water heat pump consume more electricity and thus its running costs will be higher. So if you are going to cut down your monthly energy bills, think twice before opting for a certain heat pump type.
  • When it comes to installing domestic heating systems, all the large companies that are likely to be around on the British heat pump market for a long time, focus primarily on manufacturing air-to-water models. Perhaps, their business analysts know better than ordinary people which of the heat pump types is worth banking on.

As a bottom line, we must admit that both types have some certain drawbacks and merits, since their functional principles are quite different. They are both eco-friendly and may help you save on energy usage. Yet air-to-water heat pumps seem to be a better option for installing in domestic households due to their cost-effectiveness, power consumption and ease of operation, whereas water-to-water are mostly appropriate for commercial premises as they have higher expenditure for space and water heating.


All figures and numbers are approximate and stated for information only. Figures for your property may vary. Subject to survey.

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Choosing between Air-to-Water and Water-to-Water heat pumps