Frequently asked Questions

A Guide for Residents

What are Heat Pumps and how do they work?

There are two main kinds of heat pumps, Ground Source and Air Source. Both are classed as renewable heating, as they extract heat from natural sources. With Ground Source they take heat out of the ground, and with Air Source, they absorb heat from the outside air.

The system you will be receiving is an Air Source Heat Pump, which works a little like a fridge in reverse. So rather than your fridge working to extract all the heat from inside the fridge to keep it cool, the heat pump extracts the heat from the outside air, and converts it into useable heat inside your home.

What will I see fitted to my home, inside and out.

On the outside of your home, probably at the side or back of your house, you will have what is called an outdoor unit, which is the heat pump itself, and looks a bit like the air conditioning systems you see on buildings, but this is doing the opposite, i.e. providing heat not cold air.

Inside your home, you will have a new hot water cylinder, and new pipework and radiators. You will also have an easy to use heating control.

Will the new system do my hot water too?

Yes, this is what the hot water cylinder is for, so water is heated and stored in a cylinder for when you need it. The cylinder is insulated so once heated the water will stay hot for several hours, so you will always have hot water for washing dishes and running a bath.

Will I save money on my energy bills?

You should do, yes. If you have existing electric storage heaters, or coal fire systems – these are both expensive to run, so you should see savings. Some residents however that don’t use their current heating at all, and have very low energy bills at the moment, may not see any savings.

We can have a look at your existing heat bills and give you a better idea on what you will save before the work starts.

The reason why these systems generally save money on energy bills is that they are very efficient. If you take electric storage heaters, for every £1 of electricity you buy to run them, you only get about 80% of that £1 as heat as storage heaters are around 80% efficient. Gas boilers run at about 90%, but Heat Pumps are between 300%-400% efficient, so for every £1 of electricity you buy, you can get £3- £4 worth of heat out of them.

What will the work involve?

The work will firstly involve removing your old heating system, so taking out old electric storage heaters, or old coal fires if you have them.

The installer will then start to fit new pipework and radiators in each of your rooms, they may need to be in your loft to fit some pipework.

A new hot water cylinder will be fitted, and the heat pump (outdoor unit) fitted outside.

How long will the work take?

Most of the messy work will take place on Day 1, so taking out the old system, and starting to fit most of the new pipework. Day 2 will be less messy as they connect everything up, and box in any pipework. Sometimes they may need to come back on Day 3 to finish off small jobs, but most of the work is done over 2 days.

Will I be left without heating?

No, there will be a short time during the day when the old system is removed and the new one is being fitted, and if it’s during the winter months, then the installer will provide temporary heaters for you for these few hours.  At the end of Day 1, you will either have your new heating operating, or you will be left with temporary heaters overnight.  If the new cylinder is not connected up, for hot water you will be able to boil a kettle for dishes and washing, and if you have an electric shower this will still work as normal.

Will I need to move carpets and furniture?

Before the work starts a surveyor will come and look around your home, measure up and advise you where the heat pump will go outside, and where the pipe runs and radiators will go. At this point they will explain what areas of each room they need to work in, and will advise you to remove any personal items or breakables from cupboards or cabinets, and this is your responsibility to do this, to ensure nothing gets broken or damaged during the work.

However you will not have to move heavy furniture, the installers will do this for you to get access, and will put them back afterwards. The installer will also carefully lift any carpets if they need to get access under the floor, and will be put back again afterwards.

Will the installers look after my home and tidy up after themselves?

Yes they are very experienced working in residents homes, and will lay plastic sheeting over all your carpets, and have dust sheets to cover your furniture and belongings. They will work hard to keep dust and disruption to a minimum for you. At the end of the day all rubbish and tools will be removed.

Is the new heating system easy to use and control?

Yes it is, we will set up the system to suit your needs, but generally heat pumps work best if they are left on at a low but comfortable setting all day, and boost up in the morning so your home is nice and warm for you getting up, and boost up again in the evening. If you want it warmer during the day you can boost it up yourself on the control.

You will not run out of heat like with storage heaters, and you won’t be on day/night tariffs, so you can use heating whenever you need it.

Will I need to change energy supplier?

No you can keep with your existing supplier, but if you are on an Economy 7 tariff, with Day and Night tariff rates, you will need to change this to a standard tariff, which your energy company will do for you.

If you did want to change energy supplier, this may be a good time to do it, and there are websites like USwitch which show you which energy companies offer the best rates, and it’s a very easy process either on line or over the phone.

What happens if anything goes wrong?

If anything goes wrong with your heating, or if it stops working, just contact your housing office/repairs number in the usual way, and someone will contact you to fix it.

Where is the funding coming from for this work?

Renewable energy systems are more expensive than traditional gas systems, as the technology involved in making the systems as efficient as possible and keeping energy bills low is more costly than gas boilers for example.

However there is a lot of government support for anyone who choses to install renewable heating, including a scheme called Renewable Heat Incentive which is an Ofgem scheme designed to support projects that reduce carbon emissions.

All customers will be provided with our Corona Virus/Covid-19 policy prior to any survey or installation work taking place.

© 2020 Warm Homes Durham

Pacifica Group
Durham County Council