Debate over heat pumps replacing gas in the U.K. gets hot

(AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)

I think we’re going to hear more of the same here, and louder, but this will do for now. There hasn’t been a more cowed crew then the lemmings in the U.K. and for them to be squawking, well – it’s got to be bad.


First off, I found an op-ed that had my eyeballs popping – how on earth can a heat pump set you back by such a chunk of change? I’d sure be squawking, too.

Found a spare £18,000? Congratulations, you can afford a heat pump
In Heat Pumps: What They Really Mean For You, the BBC delivered multiple reasons not to install one in the first 15 minutes

Like, WHUT?!

…Really, everything I wanted to know was in those first 15 minutes. Presenter Michelle Ackerley went to visit a couple who were having a heat pump fitted in their home in Hook, Hampshire. The government is currently offering a £5,000 grant to anyone taking the plunge, so did that cover the cost of the upgrade from a gas boiler? Hardly. The price tag for this work on an average-sized bungalow was £18,000.

Pipework needed to be routed from the couple’s garage through the loft. All the radiators had to be upgraded. A team of six workers would take more than a week to complete it. Some homes will need extra insulation, and perhaps double glazing, in order to make the work efficient. A chap in charge of the project appeared to say both that the average cost would be about £10,000, and that this couple’s installation was an average project, so that was clear as mud.

Ackerley told us that “you can’t just whack up the temperature” with a heat pump, but didn’t explain this in any detail. No wonder only 60,000 of them were taken up last year – against a government target of 600,000 being installed every year by 2028…



I don’t believe a retro-fit here would be so hugely expensive, but, then again, I’ve not attempted anything like that on an older home, nor lately. I should watch “This Old House” more closely on Saturday mornings.

Besides, I am in love with my nat gas furnace. As far as I’m concerned, after freezing through some frigid winters in North Carolina with the tepid air of a heat pump blowing on my leg as I tried to work, and the electric meter spinning like a top anyway, I am convinced they are the spawn of Satan. Granted, that was during the 90s and I have heard they are much improved, but I am much scarred by the experience. I will NEVER again have one.

And the fellow above is entirely correct – you can’t “whack up the temperature.” They don’t work that way. They work in teensy increments of a few degrees up or down from the heat you’ve set it at and that it’s settled to. For it to move anywhere above those few ticks requires the sudden burst of a heating strip, and you can just hear the electric meter outside singing as it practically spins its little arms off. And you will still be cold because nothing “warm” ever emerges from a register, like the lovely, toasty air from our furnace. Your thermostat reads 72° and you’ll swear it’s 62°.


They suck. I hate them.

Part of the ongoing socialist interference the U.K. has implemented in the lives of their citizens seems to include an “environmental score” for your home. Forcing you into a heat pump is meant to improve it. You’ll feel better as you freeze to death as the warm glow of saving Gaia should be enough to keep you alive. There’s always the town library if it’s not.

But the problem – much like northern California and for sure upstate New York – is that there are many parts of the U.K. where it’s just too damn cold to use a heat pump to “heat your house.” They don’t work as they are a heat exchanger – they pull heat from the outside air, transferring it indoors. You can see where this would become a problem as temperatures plunge.

They also cannot work if their fans are blocked by snow drifts or ice. Unlike my happy furnace in its cozy closet, you’d best get your tookus outside repeatedly to keep the heat pump clear if a Buffalo storm piles the white stuff up around your humble cottage. That’s something to look forward to, no?


To his credit, one of the largest heat pump suppliers in the country has spoken up to tell the climate cultists in the government just that – heat pumps and winter do not co-exist.


…Lord Willie Haughey, the business tycoon, said the heating system is unsuitable for the Scottish climate as its performance declines markedly in freezing weather.

The Labour peer said some units can stop working properly at temperatures of -5C (23F), or require more electricity to function properly, resulting in higher bills.

Parts of Scotland hit -15C last winter and the country holds the record for the UK’s lowest temperature of -27.2C seen in Braemar in Aberdeenshire in 1982 and Altnaharra in Sutherland in 1995.

The multi-millionaire, who owns a heat pump company, also warned they were noisy and only heated water to 54C (129.2F) – less than the 60C recommended by the Health and Safety Executive to kill the legionella bacteria.

Lord Haughey has had it with people trying to shush him for the sake of the planet. The man knows his business and his products’ limitations. Also their dangers (The water temps are curious – I believe they tie their water heaters into the heat pump.).

…“But the truth of the matter is that heat pumps don’t work as efficiently in Scotland as they do in other countries.”

Legionnaires’ disease
He said this was because of the colder climate and warned “legionnaires’ disease can thrive in lower temperatures in hot water systems”.

Lord Haughey added: “My staff are always telling me I should not criticise our core business but this is eco nonsense being peddled by the Greens. I’d like to challenge Patrick Harvie to a debate on the science of it.”


He also said what was sold to U.K. citizens originally as an economical, environmentally £5000 upgrade is now running in the neighborhood of £15,000+.

Here we again have underwhelming returns on overpromised technology for far more money than was quoted. Not a “Green” saving in sight.

Well, whoda thunk?

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 24, 2024