Improved insulation is not an ‘essential’ prerequisite for installing heat pumps, according to a new report.
Insulation impact: how much do UK houses really need (bit.ly/CJNestaInHP), published by innovation thinktank Nesta last month, says the claim that the UK’s housing stock must be much better insulated before heat pumps can be installed is ‘largely untrue’.
While better insulation is ‘always beneficial’ with any kind of heating system, it is ‘not an essential prerequisite for getting a heat pump’, and households should ‘not be discouraged’ from buying one of the devices if their home is poorly insulated.
It says the ‘key factors’ affecting a heat pump’s efficiency are how the heating system is designed and whether the radiators are adequately sized.
A well-designed heating system with correctly sized heat emitters, which enable a lower flow temperature, is the ‘most important factor’ behind a heat pump’s efficiency.
The report proposes a ‘pragmatic’ approach to insulating homes in the UK alongside a heat pump rollout. While the UK should insulate many more homes, it is ‘not cost-effective’ to insulate every home to a high standard.
Nesta recommends aiming to improve around 13 million homes to reach the equivalent of Energy Performance Certificate C standard or equivalent by 2030, which would cost an estimated £60bn, prioritising properties with easy-to-treat cavity wall and loft insulation over hard-to-treat homes.