Are heat pumps a good option for your business?

Heat pumps are one of the government’s preferred technologies for the decarbonisation of heat, which means there are potentially huge opportunities for heat pump installers as we move into the 2020s. The word ‘potentially’ is important because there have already been a couple of false dawns in the development of the heat pump market, and consumer awareness of their benefits remains comparatively low. That is unfortunate because heat pumps offer several advantages over traditional heating systems, particularly for homes that are well insulated and where the installation can be carefully planned.

The government’s advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, have recommended that heat pumps should play a much greater role in the future and, as the carbon intensity of the electricity falls, their deployment at scale could be vital to meeting the new net zero carbon target. The chancellor has already announced that fossil fuel appliances will be banned from new buildings from 2025, and more support is expected to support the growth of the heat pump market after the RHI ends in 2021, so now could be the perfect time to upskill!

QCF and RCF mapped training courses regulated by Ofqual are available nationwide for the installation and commissioning requirements of heat pumps and most manufacturers will offer additional product training to enhance your knowledge. In order to attend a regulated course, technicians must hold pre-requisite qualifications in topics such as Part L Energy Efficiency, WRAS Water Regulations and unvented hot water systems. Please check with your training provider that you are eligible to sit the course and that the course is QCF or RQF mapped which then makes the holder eligible for MCS registration.

Registration schemes

Once trained, OFTEC offers two government backed registration schemes for heat pump installers:
• The England and Wales competent persons scheme (CPS) which allows installers to self-certify installations in accordance with building regulation, rather than paying expensive building control fees.
• The microgeneration certification scheme (MCS), which is required if your customers wish to apply for RHI support.

One of the main benefits of heat pumps is their high efficiency compared to a boiler. While a condensing boiler is typically 90% efficient, an ASHP is closer to 300% and a GSHP around 400% efficient.

Normally, heat pumps work at their most efficient when producing heat at much lower temperatures than gas or oil boilers, and consequently bigger heat emitters are required (or improved insulation so that existing emitters can be utilised). However, high temperature heat pumps are now available that overcome this problem, although their purchase price is likely to be higher and overall efficiency slightly lower.

Heat pumps can also be used in combination with other heating appliances. Commercially available hybrid systems are already available that combine a heat pump with a condensing boiler. The heat pump meets the bulk of the demand, with the boiler kicking in to supply additional heat during peak demand periods.

For further information about our heat pump registration schemes, please contact the registration team on 01473 626 298.