How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Heat pumps are becoming an increasingly popular choice for heating UK homes.

They offer an energy-efficient alternative to traditional heating systems, such as gas, oil and LPG boilers.

This guide aims to demystify how heat pumps work and why they might be a suitable option for UK homeowners looking for an eco-friendly and cost-effective heating solution.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

by Dave Hutcheon, Heat Pump Technical Manager | published 5 February 2024 | revised 7 May 2024

What is a Heat Pump?

Basic Principles

A heat pump is a device that transfers heat from one place to another using a compressor and a circulating structure of liquid or gas refrigerant.

This process extracts heat from outside sources like the air, ground, or water and pumps it inside the home.

Types of Heat Pump

There are mainly three types of heat pump:

How Heat Pumps Work

The Refrigeration Cycle

Heat pumps operate on a basic refrigeration cycle:

  1. Evaporation: The refrigerant, at low temperature and pressure, absorbs heat from the environment (air, ground, water) and turns into a gas.
  2. Compression: A compressor increases the gas’s temperature and pressure.
  3. Condensation: The hot gas then passes through a heat exchanger, transferring its heat to the air or water in the heating system, and condenses back into a liquid.
  4. Expansion: Finally, the refrigerant passes through an expansion valve, reducing its pressure and temperature, ready to absorb heat again.

Benefits of Heat Pumps for UK Homeowners

Energy Efficiency

Heat pumps are known for their high efficiency. They can produce significantly more energy as heat than they consume in electricity, making them a more efficient alternative to traditional heating systems.

Lower Carbon Footprint

Since they use renewable sources like air, ground, or water for heating, heat pumps have a lower carbon footprint compared to fossil fuel-based heating systems.

Cost-Effective Heating

With the £7,500 government grant, the initial installation cost of a heat pump is now very competitive compared to traditional heating systems, and they often lead to lower running costs.

Heat Pump Benefits

Considerations Before Installing a Heat Pump


The effectiveness of a heat pump depends on factors like insulation quality of the home and outdoor space availability for installation (especially for ground source heat pumps).

Our fully-qualified surveyors will carry out Heat Loss and Technical Surveys to ensure your heat pump will meet your needs fully.

Installation Cost

The upfront cost of installing a heat pump has now been made dramatically lower via the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) grant of £7,500.

Systems are now available from as little as £2,000, covering all of the equipment and installation costs.

Maintenance Requirements

Heat pumps require less maintenance than combustion-based heating systems, but still need regular check-ups to ensure they operate efficiently. We can service and maintain your system for you.


For homeowners looking for a sustainable and cost-effective way to heat their homes, heat pumps offer a compelling solution.

With their ability to provide energy-efficient heating and lower carbon emissions, heat pumps align well with both environmental goals and practical household needs.

Considering the ongoing support and incentives from the government, now is a great time for homeowners to consider making the switch to this innovative heating technology.

Air Source Heat Pumps