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Installing Heat Pumps

Can existing houses be fitted with heat pumps?

Yes, heat pumps can be fitted to an existing house. Prior to installation, a full home survey should be carried out by a competent person to ensure the suitability of the house and to identify any additional required insulation measures. In order to get the best performance from heat pumps, it’s recommended that your home is well-insulated and relatively airtight. For that reason, installation is often done in combination with a fabric retrofit to improve the building’s energy performance. Every home is different. The key to selecting the right heat pump for your home is accurate assessment of the heat that will need to be transferred into your home for heating. This needs to be carried out by experienced and qualified specialists.

SEAI also offer insulation grants to facilitate this. There are also deep retrofit programmes available, such as those run by the Tipperary Energy Agency’s Superhomes initiative, which help homeowners make the most cost-effective choices to achieve an ‘A’ energy efficiency rating standard.


Do I need planning permission?

Conditional Planning Exemptions apply to heat pump technologies in a domestic setting:
  • The level of the ground must not be altered by more than 1 m above or below the level of the adjoining ground.
  • The total area of any air source HP or combination of two heat pumps must not exceed 2.5 sq. m.
  • The heat pump must be a minimum of 50 cm from the edge of the wall or roof on which it is mounted.
  • Noise levels at the nearest party boundary must not exceed 43 dB(A).
  • No structure must be placed to the front of a building.



Where do I put the Heat Pump system?

The internal unit can be installed inside the house in the utility room or hot press, replacing the existing hot water tank. Heat pumps are quiet enough to allow this. This saves on both installation and running costs. If you also require an external unit (Air Source Heat Pumps), this is located outside not too far from the internal unit. The heat pump is always going to be more cost effective to run if placed near where it and or the hot water is used. If possible, place the heat pump inside the house in the utility room. This saves on both installation and also running costs. You can remotely locate the heat pump in a garage etc., but it is not necessary for noise or equipment size reasons – the heat pump is always going to be more cost effective to run if placed near where it and/or the hot water is used.


How long does it take to install a heat pump system?

The heat pump can take three to eight days to install depending on the complexity of the system and if you need to replace any radiators in your property.


Do I need to have Underfloor Heating or upgrade my radiators?

A heat pump will work more efficiently supplying heat to a floor heating system because of its lower operating temperature requirements, but it is not true to say that you cannot have radiators. Steel panel radiators, cast iron radiators, fan-assisted radiators, fan-coils, thermal skirting and blown air systems, depending on the design of the system, could all work. If installing a new system with radiators they may be dimensioned slightly larger to run at lower temperatures. Where retrofitting, the existing house radiators may also be fine, as they are generally oversized in any case, and when used with heat pumps are left running at a lower temperature for longer periods. Market experience has shown that in most cases the radiators do not need to be changed, however, this can vary and needs to be looked at on a job to job basis.


Can my existing hot water tank be used with a Heat Pump?

More than likely your existing hot water tank will not be able to able to be used with a heat pump as the coils contained in the hot water tank will not allow sufficient heat transfer within the tank.


Do I need Three Phase electricity?

Most manufacturers have single phase machines designed for the Irish climate, bigger buildings will usually need a three-phase supply or else several heat pumps. Alternatively peak loads may be catered for by docking a heat pump with another back-up source of heat such as oil, gas or electricity.


Do I need a Night Rate meter?

A Day/Night meter will be able to take advantage of cheaper night rate electricity. The night rate is around half the price of day rate, and a heat pump which is linked to the weather takes natural advantage of what is usually the coldest period in the 24hr cycle. Heat Pump Systems can be programmed to maximise the utilisation of cheaper night rate electricity.


How much do heat pumps cost?

There are a number of factors affecting the cost of installation such as the age and size of your property, the levels of insulation and thermal efficiency, the number of rooms and radiators, etc. We recommend talking to a few renewable heating professionals to get several quotes. Air source heat pump installations usually cost between €8,500 and €14,500, depending on the size and power of the heat pump, how much hot water storage you require and whether you want the heat pump to be controllable over the internet. Ground source systems range from €12,500 to €23,500, again depending on the size of heat pump, hot water cylinder and ground loop system.


Are there any grants available?

SEAI currently offer a grant of €3,500 towards the cost of installing a heat pump system in homes built before 2011. Additionally, Electric Ireland offer energy credits towards your electricity bill of up to €1,019.20 depending on what type of heat pump is installed through The Energy Efficiency Incentive.


Will I have a bigger electricity bill with a Heat Pump?

Yes, if you currently use non-electric heating you will have a bigger electricity bill, but no oil or gas bill. This is because the heat pump uses electrical power to gather free heat energy from the source, but your overall expenditure on energy will be considerably less. Gas Boilers will have an efficiency of up to 97% and Oil Boilers up to 95% however the efficiency of a heat pump can be above 400%. To further reduce the cost of heating your home Electric Ireland has developed an All Electric Tariff. This price plan offers reduced day and night rates for homes using heat pump systems.
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