Renewable energy heat pumps bring peace of mind, But do they spoil our peace & quiet?
All heating products make some noise, but heat pumps are usually quieter than fossil fuel boilers. A ground source heat pump may reach 42 decibels, and an air source heat pump may reach 40 to 60 decibels, but this depends on manufacturer and installation.
Quiet Mark is the independent global certification programme associated with the UK Noise Abatement Society charitable foundation. Through scientific testing and assessment Quiet Mark identifies the quietest products in multiple categories spanning many sectors, including: home appliances and technology, building sector materials and commercial sector products.
At QuietMark.com you’ll find Quiet Mark certified heat pumps, both Air Source, and Ground Source, which have all achieved lowest noise levels out of market-wide comparisons by leading manufacturers, including Grant UK, Vaillant and Warmflow and Worcester Bosch.
From 2025 developers will be obliged to fit air or ground-source heat pumps in new homes as part of the government’s bid to cut carbon emissions and make us all more energy-efficient. The Energy Saving Trust says you should expect to pay between £9,000 and £11,000 for an air-source heat pump, the most popular UK choice. That’s more than three times the cost of a typical new gas boiler with thermostatic radiator valves, excluding radiators (£2,300). However, with a heat pump, average savings on fuel bills may eventually recoup at least some of the cost of installation; Igloo, a challenger energy company, estimates £3,000 over seven years, typically.
“During the colder months, your heating can be on for long periods of the day, especially with working from home either part or full-time now being standard for many office-based workers. So making sure your main source of heat, whether that’s a Heat Pump or a boiler, isn’t going to disturb you when it comes on, can be essential”, says Poppy Szkiler, Quiet Mark CEO/ CoFounder.
“At Quiet Mark we not only take into account the type of heat pump but we ensure we assess models on a like for like basis – it would be unfair to compare a heat pump for a 2 bedroom house with a model designed for a much larger home. There are 2 types of heat pump available – Ground Source and Air Source, so always be sure to speak with a manufacturer or installer to find out which type of heat pump is best for your situation’, continues Poppy.
If you don’t have space for a ground source heat pump or don’t want your garden dug up for it to be installed, then an air source model will probably be right for you. These come in 2 forms, ‘Monoblock’ and ‘Split’, again, good advice is key to ensure you get the right one installed in your house. Monoblock units are currently the most common in the UK and have the benefit of not having to be installed by someone with Gas Register qualification but it is worth doing your research to ensure you get the most suitable for you in the long term.
When it comes to installing an air source heat pump, considerably more planning must go into the preparation compared to the installation of a conventional boiler replacement. Neil Sawers, Grant UK’s Commercial Technical Manager, explains some of the factors homeowners and their installers need to consider when planning a heat pump installation.
“Air source heat pumps operate at low temperatures which are much lower than the high system temperatures associated with oil boilers. Therefore, to help a heat pump work both efficiently and effectively, high levels of insulation ideally need to be in place so that any heat loss from the property is minimised. Every heat pump installation should start with thorough preparation and a key part of this is a heat loss calculation which will identify any heat loss from the home and, when required, will suggest ways this can be reduced.
“Many homes built since the late 1990s will already have more than adequate insulation so installing a heat pump becomes a straightforward choice – the building materials of such homes mean that they retain more heat and are very well suited to low temperature heating systems. “For older properties, there are several steps homeowners can take to improve the energy efficiency of their home. In uninsulated or poorly insulated homes, as much as 25% of heat is lost through the roof, 35% through walls and 25% through floors and that adds up to a lot of wasted energy. Loft insulation is an easy one to start with and it is a job that homeowners can do themselves for a cost of about £6 per m².
“Wall insulation is another effective way of reducing the amount of heat that escapes a home. Cavity walls – typically seen in properties built after 1935 – are relatively simple to insulate with the insulation injected directly into the walls. Solid walls are more difficult to insulate but these can either be clad with insulation on the outside or have it attached inside. “Another popular energy-efficiency measure is installing double glazed windows. Windows are an outlet where heat can be lost so improving their insulation will significantly reduce the overall heat loss of a home. Not only is this measure strongly recommended for heat pumps installations, it is estimated that installing double glazing could save a single-glazed detached home more than £100 on their annual energy bills (Source: Energy Saving Trust). “These energy efficiency measures can make a home feel much warmer and considerably easier to heat, preparing a property to be kept warm by a heat pump.
“However, it must be pointed out that not all these measures will be needed in order to install a heat pump – many homes will have one or more of these measures already in place so, provided the heat pump model and the heat emitters are correctly sized, a heat pump will fulfil the household’s heating demand.
“For those converting to a heat pump from a gas or oil heating system, they should aim to make their house is as ‘leak’ free as possible and while, ideally, energy efficiency measures should be installed in advance, these measures can be retrospectively fitted if homeowners want to spread the cost. Here at Grant UK, we are helping homeowners identify where improvements can be made and we suggest a programme of initiatives that they can follow to help improve the energy efficiency of their home over the next ten years. By implementing a series of measures over several years, the capital outlay does not have to made in one up-front cost and it could allow many more homes to benefit from heat pump heating sooner rather than later.”
Quiet Mark is the international approval award programme associated with the UK Noise Abatement Society charitable foundation (est. 1959). Conducting expert acoustic testing and verification of products Quiet Mark has over the past 9 years driven change in manufacturing worldwide to prioritise noise reduction within the design of everyday machines, appliances, technologies and house build materials, creating the first one-stop platform for third-party approved noise reduction solutions for every living space to health and well-being.
Through specialist acoustic measurement and product assessment, Quiet Mark identifies the quietest products in over 70 product categories giving consumers and trade buyers a more informed choice about the sound levels of the products they buy. The Quiet Mark scheme drives designers and manufacturers to reduce sound levels of their products enabling households and workplaces to rebalance the soundscape reducing stressful unwanted noise.