The nation is desperately short of housing and, in addition to needing around 300,000 homes a year, we also need to make sure that these new homes minimise their effect on the carbon emissions of the country.
This means we can no longer rely on traditional, carbon-intensive forms of heating for these homes.
Heat pumps and particularly the air source variant are now recognised as a major part of the country’s future, with the Committee on Climate Change forecasting that fact by 2030, heat pump heating will rise to over 1 million installations each year.
Heat pumps are therefore seen as crucial to the transition towards a low carbon economy, which is urgently needed if we are to seriously reduce the UK’s carbon emissions and meet legally binding targets.
The tide is definitely turning against traditional carbon-intensive forms of heating and, with the start of mainstream TV advertising by E.ON, consumers are slowly but surely being made more and more aware of the possibilities achievable with a heat pump.
The recent price rises in oil and gas are also helping convince households that the long term answer is no longer a gas or oil boiler.
Add to this the nation’s reliance on imported gas and oil from unstable regions such as the Middle East and Russia and it’s easy to see where the future lies.
On the face it, the planning process is clear - due to their limited aesthetic impact, heat pumps are likely to be considered ‘permitted development’ by local authorities, which means that no planning permission will be necessary.
However, as any industry expert will tell you, it is still advisable to check with the local authority prior to installing any renewable energy technology.
For example, in Wales and Northern Ireland, air source heat pumps are not considered permitted development and will require planning permission.
But in England, air source heat pump systems will be considered permitted development provided they meet the following criteria:
• the proposed installation site must not be located in the grounds of a listed building or in a conservation area
• the pump unit must not be placed on a pitched roof
• the unit must be placed more than one meter from the edge of the property
• the pump unit must be smaller than 0.6 square meters
The permitted development rules for air source heat pumps in Scotland were changed in March 2016 and are now broadly in line with the requirements in England.
Keep the noise down
One of the major factors affecting the installation of air source heat pumps relates to noise, which means siting the heat pump somewhere where it doesn’t disturb neighbours – something that will become more of an issue as heat pumps become more and more common.
The vital thing then is to select a heat pump that is known to be quiet and which has been designed to deliver reliable, renewable heating, whatever the weather.
See which heat pump would suit you best
Fixed speed or older heat pumps can still be used but in terms of noise, they will probably need installing well away from neighbouring properties.
If you’re looking to replace your existing heating or add a renewable system to it, then modern, inverter-driven systems are the way to go as they are designed specifically to deliver all the heating and hot water a home needs at the minimum noise levels possible.
This means that on the whole, it doesn’t matter where you are, as a modern system, with a noise level output of 45dBA will give you almost total flexibility on where you site your heat pump.
The other factor to consider is that MCS accreditation for any heat pump installation will almost certainly ensure compliance with planning - AND will help ensure that the property is eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive.