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Heat Pumps: the future of heating?

In the quest for sustainable energy solutions, heat pumps have emerged as true game-changers. These innovative systems have revolutionised the way we heat and cool our homes and businesses, offering a greener and more efficient alternative to conventional heating methods. The rise of heat pumps was confirmed this week when Ideal Heating announced a new commitment to the production of heat pumps. The British boiler manufacturer has invested £50M into the transformation of its factory, pivoting from fossil fuel-based boilers to heat pumps. They aim to produce 60,000 heat pumps a year, alongside 500,000 boilers, and will also open a new centre to train staff to install and service the new heat pumps. Ideal Heating describes this trend as “the biggest transformation since the switch from coal to gas devices in the 1930s” [ref]. But what does this all mean, what are heat pumps and what is this transformation? Let’s dive in.  

What are Heat Pumps? 

At its core, a heat pump is an electrical device that transfers heat from one place to another. It utilises a cycle of evaporation, compression, condensation, and expansion of a refrigerant gas to achieve this heat transfer process. The key advantage of heat pumps lies in their ability to move heat against the natural flow, meaning they can extract warmth from a colder area and deliver it to a warmer space. This makes them the perfect heating appliance to replace the traditional gas boiler.  

How Heat Pumps Work 

Heat pumps can extract heat from various sources, but the most common types are: 

  1. Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs): These extract heat from the ambient air and are suitable for both heating and cooling applications.
  2. Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs): GSHPs utilise the relatively stable temperature of the ground to extract or dissipate heat, making them highly efficient and ideal for year-round heating and cooling.
  3. Water Source Heat Pumps (WSHPs): These extract heat from water bodies such as lakes, rivers, or wells, offering another sustainable heat source.
Why Heat Pumps? 

As we move away from fossil fuels, we need to find new sources of energy to provide heating to homes and businesses across the country. Heat pumps predominantly rely on renewable energy sources, such as air, ground, or water, to operate, all of which are naturally sustainable. Heat pumps do require electricity to run, but they are remarkably energy-efficient, converting one unit of electricity into multiple units of usable heat. In fact, the Coefficient of Performance (COP) for a heat pump typically ranges from 3 to 5, meaning they can produce three to five times more heat energy than the electricity they consume. And because they consume less electricity and rely on environmental sources of heat, their carbon impact is very low compared to other heating systems. So, to summarise, heat pumps are a highly efficient, low-carbon, and sustainable heating system. 

“The Transformation...” 

The biggest transformation since the switch from coal to gas devices in the 1930s 

In the early-mid 20th century the country switched from coal fires to gas boilers and central heating. The move to gas was a massive undertaking and one that saved many lives and improved living conditions across the country by reducing pollution and improving heating systems. And yet we were out of the coal-powered frying pan and straight into the gas fire... The transformation that we require now from gas and fossil fuels to sustainable energy is even more lifesaving and incredibly urgent.  

Due to climate change, we are required to radically change the way that we deal with energy in this country, for example through the electrification of our energy grid. If every home and business across the country were to remove gas boilers and replace them with electric boilers, or better yet heat pumps, we would massively reduce our carbon footprint. But this can’t be done without massive investment and collaboration from government, industry and consumers. National infrastructure needs to be updated, production increased, and more engineers trained. Ideal Heating have started the process, but other companies in the industry need to follow suit if we are to pull off this large and vital transformation.


Heat pumps have emerged as an innovative energy solution, one greatly needed for the UK to reach Net Zero. Their efficiency, low carbon impact, and adaptability make them the cornerstone of a responsible and eco-conscious approach to heating and cooling. Embracing heat pump technology is not merely a step towards a greener future but also a wise investment for homeowners and businesses who are ready to start their transformation.