Advantages of Heat Pumps: An Interview With Kieran Gallagher of Go Greener Energy Services

Heat pumps are fast becoming the next big thing in renewable energy. Renewable Energy Magazine recently spoke with Kieran Gallagher, Managing Director at Go Greener Energy Services about the benefits of heat pumps, advances in the technology and what his company is doing to advance the sector.
Advantages of Heat Pumps: An Interview With Kieran Gallagher of Go Greener Energy Services
Courtesy of Go Greener Energy Services

REM: Tell us a little bit about Go Greener Energy Services and what you do?

Gallagher: We are a leading installation, repairs and servicing provider for the renewable energy sector. Although we are a relatively new organization, we have accumulated a wealth of trusted resources with vast experience of renewables who are trained, qualified and accredited to deliver energy efficient solutions to domestic homes and many different commercial and industrial sectors.

We believe in a sustainable future and are committed to helping our partners with solutions which deliver energy efficiency, reduced costs and reduced fossil fuel dependency. This is all done in a cost-effective way, and with a focus on compliance and the practicality of your business operations.

REM: What are the carbon benefits of heat pumps?

Gallagher: Heat pumps extract heat from natural sources — the ground or the air — and use refrigerants to transfer this into usable heat for heating and hot water around the home or business. This is an alternative to burning fossil fuels in the form of a gas boiler. Heat pumps therefore reduce carbon emissions, use renewable energy sources, reduce the reliance on other heating sources and have an extended lifespan.

REM: What is the effect of heat pumps on energy bills?

Gallagher: A well-insulated home should be able to generate very good reductions on energy bills through the installation of a heat pump. Heat pumps are up to three times more efficient than gas boilers, meaning you can achieve more heat output with less energy input.

 Operating a heat pump, one unit of energy results in between 2 to 4.5 units of heat, meaning heat pumps have an efficiency of 200 to 450%. By comparison, a good gas boiler runs at around 92-94% efficiency, older boilers are much less efficient than that. So you can see straight away that heat pumps should result in a significant reduction in your energy bills.

REM: What advances have there been in heat pump technology recently?

Gallagher: The first heat pumps that appeared 10-15 years ago struggled to achieve a flow temperature — the temperature of water as received in your radiators - of 50°C. This was compared to gas boilers which produced a flow temperature of 60°C. We are now seeing heat pumps generate around 70°C, which is more than enough to comfortably heat the average family home.

This is largely due to advances in the refrigerants used in the heat transfer process. The industry has phased out the previous R401A refrigerant and replaced it with R290, which achieves higher temperatures, with 34% more efficiency, and is also easier to dispose of in an environmental sense. R290 heat pumps are now outperforming the previous R401A heat pumps on the market. If we look at COP (co-efficient of performance) values, which measure the heat produced in kWh for every kWh of electricity consumed in the process, gas boilers tend to produce a COP of 3, but new heat pumps are generating a COP of nearer 4. As with everything connected to renewable energy, there are huge resources committed to developing even better solutions, which means these figures are only likely to improve as time goes on.    

REM: How popular are heat pumps in the UK?

Gallagher: In 2023 there were 72,000 heat pumps installed in the UK, but there is a commitment to raise this to 600,000 installations per year over the next five years. This should result in 50% of UK homes operating a heat pump by 2050. The Future Homes Standard — a commitment to fit heat pumps in all new houses built from 2025 — should help to accelerate this change.

REM: What other benefits are there to installing heat pumps?

Gallagher: There are lots of benefits to installing a heat pump above and beyond the positive carbon impact and the reduction in your energy bills. There is no need for fuel storage; they work efficiently regardless of the outside temperature; they operate very quietly, much like a fridge or a freezer; you can integrate heat pumps with smart systems to make them more controllable and accessible remotely; a heat pump should last between 20-25 years, giving it a longer lifespan than the average gas boiler.

REM: When will heat pumps be installed in new homes?

Gallagher: This is already happening in some new homes, but from 2025 all new homes built in the UK will be fitted with a heat pump as standard, as part of the Future Homes Standard, the Government’s commitment to 2050 net zero targets.

REM: Can you still use gas boilers in your current home?

Gallagher: Yes, while the Future Homes Standard ensures heat pumps are installed in new homes built from 2025 onwards, this doesn’t affect heating systems in existing homes. You can still buy new gas boilers and there is no impending ban on ‘using’ gas boilers. It is anticipated that a ban on ‘selling’ new gas boilers in the UK may come into effect around 2040, but nothing is agreed yet.

REM: Are there any grants available to help with the cost of installing a heat pump?

Gallagher: Yes. A new heat pump installation will cost between £14,000 and £19,000, but there are grants available to help with this. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), for example, can give you £7,500 towards this cost. The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme can also help eligible households with upgrade costs, while the Great British Insulation Scheme (GBIS) can help with upgrading your home insulation, which is essential if you want to maximise the efficiency of a heat pump. Finally, the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) helps households with low income and in rental accommodation, with the cost of upgrading their heating and insulation.  

REM: What can Go Greener Energy Services do to help with heat pump installations?

Gallagher: We can offer a whole life solution to ensure you get the most out of any heat pump installation. From talking to you about your initial thoughts on switching to heat pumps right through to after sales servicing and repairs.

Baterías con premio en la gran feria europea del almacenamiento de energía
El jurado de la feria ees (la gran feria europea de las baterías y los sistemas acumuladores de energía) ya ha seleccionado los productos y soluciones innovadoras que aspiran, como finalistas, al gran premio ees 2021. Independientemente de cuál o cuáles sean las candidaturas ganadoras, la sola inclusión en este exquisito grupo VIP constituye todo un éxito para las empresas. A continuación, los diez finalistas 2021 de los ees Award (ees es una de las cuatro ferias que integran el gran evento anual europeo del sector de la energía, The smarter E).