Modern Ireland is heated mainly by oil and natural gas, while some homes are still heated by peat and other solid fuels. Ireland relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to heat our homes and businesses. This is incredibly damaging to the environment. The emissions produced by just transporting fossil fuels into the country are a cause for concern. Approximately 90% of our energy demands are met by imported fossil fuels.
The built environment accounts for approximately 12.7% of greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland. Reducing our dependence on imported fuels to heat homes and businesses will be essential if we are to cut emissions and eventually achieve carbon neutrality.
One way to do this is to switch to alternative heating methods such as heat pumps. We include information about heat pumps and the costs and grants associated with their installation below.
Heat Pumps Explained
Heat pumps are a form of renewable heat commonly used throughout other European countries. They are not a form of renewable energy as they require electricity to operate instead of generating electricity, but still possess a range of positive characteristics over traditional home heating methods.
Air source heat pump. Size approx. 1.5 x 1.5m
Additional installation of underground piping is required for ground source heat pumps.
Types of heat pumps?
There are three types of heat pumps regularly installed in Ireland. These are air source, ground source and water source heat pumps. Air source heat pumps are the most commonly used and extract heat energy from the outside air. They are the cheapest heat pump option available.
The most common method that these three types transfer heat into homes or businesses is air/ground/water to water. This means that the heat extracted from each respective source is used to heat up water which is circulated through the building by large radiators or underfloor heating. Traditionally sized radiators are unsuitable for heat pumps and would have to be replaced if underfloor heating is not an option.
Ground and water heat pumps extract heat energy from ground and water sources. Ground and water heat pumps are more expensive than air pumps as they require the installation of collector pipework to extract heat from their sources. They can have more consistent performance than air pumps however.
How do they work?
Heat pumps are powered by electricity rather than through the burning of fossil fuels. They use a type of refrigerant which is circulated through a cycle of evaporation and condensation, with the end result being the transfer of heat from outside to the interior of your home or business. The same technology is used in fridges and air conditioners.
Heat pumps take longer to heat up a building than other heating methods and so will be running for longer, but will provide your household or business with a constant ambient temperature.
What are the benefits?
Heat pumps are powered by electricity which can be produced via renewable energy. If powered using renewable electricity then heat pumps are essentially carbon neutral. As more of our electricity is generated by renewable sources, heat pumps will emerge as an ideal replacement to fossil fuel heating methods.
Heat pumps are incredibly efficient. They can generate 3 kW of heat energy for every 1 kW of electricity. Higher efficiency means less electricity needed to meet your heating requirements, equating to a lower cost for the owner.
Are heat pumps suitable for my home or business?
Heat pumps are only suitable for buildings with a high energy rating. They provide a steady supply of lower temperature heat and so good insulation is essential to fully realize the benefits of heat pumps. Most new buildings are equipped for heat pump use.
Older home's energy ratings can be improved through retrofitting, for which grants will be made available. Click here to be taken to the SEAI retrofitting page which includes all the information necessary about upgrading your home. Unfortunately the scheme is closed at present.
Heat pumps are relatively small and unobtrusive. Size varies but many units are approximately 1.5 x 1.5m. Air source heat pumps do not require a large area surrounding the home to be installed. Ground and water source require a larger area due to collector pipework.
How much does it cost and what grants are available?
Costs typically range from 9000-13000. This of course depends on the size of the unit required and the type of heat pump installed.
The SEAI does provide a grant for heat pump installation in homes built before 2011 which was introduced in 2018. This grant is a flat rate of 3500 for any heat pump system installed. In order for a grant to be approved an SEAI registered technical advisor must survey your home to ensure that it is suitable for a heat pump system. A grant of 200 is available to help cover the fee only after you succeed in obtaining the full grant.
The running cost of heat pumps fluctuates with the price of electricity, size of building etc., but it is well documented that heat pumps are cheaper to heat your home or business than by traditional methods. Total savings depend on what heating system you are intending to replace, with the largest savings coming from replacement of electric storage heaters. Some suppliers quote savings as high as 75% on heating bills.
Heat pumps traditionally have a lifespan of 10-15 years but some newer units can last around 20-25 years.
How can Grian help with heat pump installation?
Installation costs of heat pumps are quite high but their low running costs along with low CO2 emissions make them an attractive alternative heating method for your home or business. Switching to low impact heating systems over the coming years is going to be required in order to meet our environmental obligations.
Grian will contact heat pump installers to obtain quotes for the installation costs of a heat pump system. We will provide you with these quotes free-of-charge allowing you to make your own decision as to whether heat pumps are the right option for you. Please click here to fill out a quote request form.
As part of Ireland's Climate Action plan, in order to reduce built enterprise CO2 emissions, the installation of heat pumps will reach 600'000 units by 2030.