A leading heat pump manufacturer, Bosch, has cautioned homeowners against installing heat pumps in older houses in the UK. Ground and air-source heat pumps have been gaining popularity as eco-friendly alternatives to traditional central heating. Despite their energy efficiency, Bosch advises opting for hydrogen boilers in older homes instead.
Heat pumps use a compressor and a circulating structure of liquid or gas refrigerant to transfer heat from external sources indoors. These devices can lower fuel bills and reduce carbon emissions if installed correctly. However, Bosch UK’s managing director, Vonjy Rajakoba, revealed to the Daily Telegraph that the technology may not function efficiently in some older UK homes.
Rajakoba explained that heat pumps work exceptionally well in new homes but may not be compatible with a large portion of the UK’s housing stock due to space constraints. “At low temperatures, you need well-insulated homes. You also need space for heat pumps for the external unit and the tank, so you need to have the sort of home which is adequate around the heat pumps.”
Experts recommend installing air-source heat pumps only in well-insulated buildings. A lower flow temperature from the heat pump results in higher efficiency and effective heat recycling. Conversely, poorly insulated buildings require a higher flow temperature, increasing the heat pump’s operating cost and carbon emissions.
For older homes, Rajakoba suggests hydrogen-burning boilers as a more suitable option. This cutting-edge technology has the potential to decrease energy costs and carbon emissions. Hydrogen boilers function similarly to natural gas boilers, with the main difference being the fuel source: hydrogen instead of natural gas (methane). Burning hydrogen gas produces hot flue gases that can heat water, with water being the primary by-product rather than carbon dioxide.
“We think in the UK, with the fleet of Victorian houses or period houses and so on, hydrogen, or in the interim, hydrogen-ready boilers are the solution,” Rajakoba said. He emphasised that it is not a matter of choosing hydrogen over heat pumps, but rather recognising that both technologies have their place in different types of homes.