Heat pumps

A heat pump is a device that can be used to heat your home or workplace.

Heat pumps come in a variety of types including

How heat pumps work

Heat pumps work by transferring heat from their source to the water that circulates through the radiators or underfloor heating of a building. They work similar to a refrigerator, but in reverse. They can also be used for cooling by “running in reverse”.

Heat pumps run on electricity and can typically produce around 3 kilowatts of heat for every kilowatt of energy used to run the heat pump. By comparison, a gas boiler only produces approximately 0.93 kilowatts of heat for every 1 kilowatt of energy used. Heat pumps are therefore much more efficient than gas boilers.

However, electricity is much more expensive than gas. The costs of running a heat pump can be offset by installing solar panels, which provide free electricity.

As of 1 April 2024, new buildings in Scotland cannot have polluting heat systems such as gas boilers. This means that many new buildings will have heat pumps.

The Energy Saving Trust has an in-depth guide to how heat pumps work. The "visit a heat pump" scheme enables you to arrange to see a heat pump near you.

Environmental benefits of heat pumps

Heat pumps run on electricity as opposed to fossil fuels. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that a typical three-bedroom home can save 1,900 kg of carbon dioxide a year when switching from a new gas boiler to a heat pump, or 2,900 kg of carbon dioxide when switching from an old gas boiler.