Diversify to deliver future heating in off gas grid homes

There are over 1 million off gas grid fossil fuel heated homes in England with these homes using some of the highest carbon heating fuels.

A closer look at why Ground Source Heat Pumps may be a strong candidate for future heat in off gas grid homes.

Current Government proposals for the decarbonisation of home heating include phasing out off gas grid fossil fuel heating from 2026. Whether or not this date makes it into legislation the need to decarbonise is an urgent one.   

With homeowners increasingly considering the right option for their future home energy needs, Jonathan Hancock, product manager at NIBE Energy Systems takes a look at why Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs) are a strong option for off grid homes, as well as a fantastic opportunity for installers looking to diversify their offering.

Heat pumps for off grid homes

A recent government study found that there is no property type or architectural era that is unsuitable for a heat pump. Whilst challenges inevitably exist in some homes, these are all manageable with careful consideration, meaning that even older, rural properties can be effectively heated by heat pumps.

Heat pump systems are gaining increasing attention across the UK as we seek innovative ways to meet our net zero targets. Not only is the government considering policy mechanisms to phase out high carbon fuels, but consumer interest in low carbon heating systems is also increasing.

The Government’s public attitudes tracker has seen a rise in awareness around climate change, and a greater willingness to help tackle it. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), which gives a £6,000 grant for GSHPs, is experiencing higher engagement from off gas grid homes than the UK average and 25% of the ground source heat pumps being installed under the scheme are replacing oil fired solutions.

Why GSHPs are an attractive option for consumers

GSHPs are attractive to off gas grid customers because they are more reliable than alternatives – they are unaffected by cold outdoor ambient air temperatures, maintaining efficiency regardless of outside conditions. This is due to ground temperature remaining consistent throughout the year at around 10°C. The heat pumps also require less maintenance than comparable fossil fuel systems, saving call-out time for installers.

GSHPs are also incredibly versatile, able to extract heat from multiple sources, including the ground, lakes and mineshafts. NIBE’s GSHP range can also be connected to solar PV-T panels for even greater energy efficiency. One notable difference to an oil-fired installation is the more flexible siting options enjoyed by GSHPs compared to oil tanks since there is no requirement to ensure safe termination of flue gases.

Households adopting GSHPs benefit from longer lifespans – an increase of over 20 years when compared to other solutions – with boreholes remaining efficient for well over 50 years. In addition, the cost of retrofitting a GSHP at the end of its life is comparable to other heating systems. Running costs are significantly lower with GSHPs too.

Green levies have been removed from electricity bills and will be further reduced through the Government’s ambition to rebalance electricity prices to incentivise the electrification of heat. This will further increase demand for GSHP installations with customer interest driven by the potential for even greater energy savings.

Consumers are increasingly looking for ways to manage their heating systems more efficiently to save them money. To enable more effective management of heating systems NIBE’s GSHPs provide performance information to consumer’s smart devices.

The commissioning process for a heat pump can require frequent adaptations and constant on-site visits are neither practical nor cost-efficient for an installer. With that in mind NIBE has created a GSHP range which enables installers to remotely monitor and troubleshoot performance through the MyUplink pro app.

It’s important to start your journey early

Oil installers who choose to diversify and add heat pump technology to their offering before the fossil fuel heating phase out date will also be at a stronger position to take advantage of subsidies and incentives aimed at deploying the technology at scale. The benefits of retraining early don’t stop there. With a small majority of oil engineers still taking their first steps in the UK heat pump industry, installers retraining now benefit from a larger market share, with greater demand from consumers.

If you are yet to begin your journey to becoming a heat pump installer, you’ll be pleased to hear that the government has recently announced the Heat Training Grant. Providing installers with £500 incentives to subsidise the cost of heat pump installer training, the grant makes it the perfect time to diversify into low carbon heating.