Gas boilers are without a doubt the most tried, tested, and trusted means of warming up UK homes. Introduced to households on a widespread scale in the 1950s, gas boilers quickly became a popular option for home heating. Nowadays, a whopping 87% of UK households use gas to heat their homes, with just the remaining 13% using alternatives like electricity and oil.
However, with modern science making us more and more aware of the adverse effects that gas can have on the environment, money is being poured into finding a plausible alternative.
Enter heat pumps.
What's a heat pump? How does it work?
So how exactly does a heat pump warm up a house? To put it simply, heat pumps work by taking warm air from outside, then pumping it into your home. Similar technology is used in fridges and freezers, except rather than trying to extract warm air from outside, the goal there is to extract warm air from a confined space: the inside of your fridge / freezer.
Since heat pumps work by taking warm air from outside then cycling it through your home, they work better in summer when there's more hot air readily available. But who puts the heating on at the height of summer? To get a good idea of whether or not heat pumps could eventually replace gas boilers in the UK, we need to take a look at how this technology functions in winter, when the people of Britain are most in need of extra warmth.
How do heat pumps compare to gas boilers?
In terms of practicality and effectiveness, particularly in the winter months, the heat pump simply can't compare to your reliable gas boiler. UK winters can be bitterly cold, and a lot of the houses in this country are very old, draughty, and poorly insulated. They need the power of a gas boiler, and the measly amounts of warm air produced by a heat pump in winter simply aren't enough to warm the average UK home.
We must also consider how expensive this option could be. Running a heat pump costs roughly three times what it costs to run a boiler in the winter months. A bit of a kick in the teeth, especially when you consider that heat pumps tend to provide less heat than gas boilers. The unfortunate truth is that many people have been persuaded to install a heat pump in their home for environmental reasons, but ended up with a cold house and an outrageous electricity bill.
While a lot of people are being encouraged to convert to heat pumps over gas boilers - helped along by the promise of government grants and subsidies - heat pumps generally aren't sufficient to keep us warm and comfortable during UK winters. On top of that, the average British family probably can't afford the amount it would cost to run a heat pump during the colder months.
Will heat pumps replace gas boilers?
So, will heat pumps be replacing gas boilers? In our opinion, not any time soon.
While it's a nice idea to have a more eco-friendly way to your home, heat pumps aren't a viable option for most households. While developments in technology could result in heat pumps (eventually) being made to be more efficient and less expensive to run, the process of development, testing, and installation will take years. Furthermore, with gas boilers being such a popular option, there just isn't a demand for heat pumps right now, and consequently there aren't enough heat pump technicians available who would be able to take over the massive amount of customers currently using gas boilers if they all suddenly converted to heat pumps. Gas boilers are just too popular and too effective!
With gas boilers in use in 87% of homes across the UK, there's an ever-increasing demand for boiler technicians and engineers. If you're thinking of changing careers, becoming a gas engineer could be the perfect choice - contact Access Training or click the button below to learn more about our gas courses.
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