• Emer Burton

Heat-pumps are very efficient electrical devices which convert energy from the outside of your home into useful heat inside your home, in the same way a fridge extracts heat from its inside. They even work in Ireland’s cold winters.

Heat pumps are an important technology in the move away from our reliance on fossil fuels and associated harmful greenhouse gas emissions.  We now offer grants for heat pumps so many homeowners may be wondering should they invest and if so how should they go about it.

We suggest a simple two-step approach to making your home energy-efficient:

  1. Fabric first to make your home heat-pump ready
  2. Install a heat pump

Step 1: Fabric First

What do we mean by fabric first? Fabric refers to the roof, walls, floors, windows and doors in your home. Taking the fabric first approach means comprehensively insulating your whole home including high performance double or triple glazed windows. In as much as possible you should also make your home airtight to reduce heat-loss and infiltration of cold air. At the same time, you must maintain a good level of planned ventilation to protect your home from damp and mould. That might sound like a contradiction, but ventilation in the home is really important for your own health and well-being. This is the first step towards making your home energy efficient.  For heat pumps to work properly, your home must be well insulated. Otherwise your electricity bill may well be higher than expected.

SEAI offers grants for attic and wall insulation. Three types of wall insulation include:

External wall insulation
Internal wall insulation (or dry lining)
Cavity wall insulation

Step 2: Install a heat pump

Heat pumps are very efficient electrical devices which provide the energy to heat your home and your hot water. While conventional heating systems such as storage heaters and boilers cannot produce more heat than that contained in their fuel source, the beauty of a heat pump is that typically they will produce three to four units of heat for every unit of electricity consumed. They achieve this by taking energy from the air, ground or water, in much the way a fridge removes heat from food placed inside it. Heat pump types include:

Air-to-water heat pump systems are the most popular choice of system. Heat is distributed through radiators and underfloor heating and they can also produce hot water
Ground source and water source heat pump systems are less common than air source units. A ground source heat pump system, also known as a geothermal heat pump system, uses the earth as a source of renewable heat. Heat is drawn from the ground through collector pipework and transferred to the heat pump.
Exhaust-air-to-water heat pump systems are similar to air to water but include mechanical extract ventilation and recover heat from air drawn from the dwelling.
Air-to-air heat pumps distribute heat through air units. Air to air heat pump systems do not provide hot water.

The technology behind heat pumps has been around for decades but these energy-efficient devices are relatively new to people’s homes. They are becoming increasingly popular as news of their many benefits spreads. Installing a heat pump in a well-insulated home will mean cheaper energy bills, a warmer, more comfortable home and a significant reduction in the carbon emissions your home produces.

To sweeten the deal even further, in April of this year, we launched a new grant of up to €3,500 to help you to cover the cost of installing a heat pump in your home. Full details are available on our grants page.

Is your home heat pump ready?

If you are toying with the idea of installing a heat pump in your home, we recommend your first point of call is to talk to an SEAI registered independent Technical Advisor. A Technical Advisor is generally an engineer, architect or quantity surveyor who is also a Domestic BER Assessor. A Technical Advisor will assess your home and advise you on how to make your home “heat pump ready”. You will receive a written report, which will include information on measures that may be necessary to ensure that the dwelling fabric heat loss is lowered to an acceptable level for a heat pump system to perform at its best.  from the Technical Advisor which will help you get quotes from contractors for works.

Before you apply for an SEAI heat pump grant, you must hire a Technical Advisor, have them complete a Technical Assessment and upload this with your online application.

SEAI now offer grants of up to €3,500 for heat pumps.

Author biography

Emer Burton is the Programme Manager for the Better Energy Homes Programme which offers financial supports to homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from heating. Energy efficiency also reduces energy bills and improves the BER rating on homes. Fixed cash grants are offered for a suite of measures including insulation, heat pumps and heating controls.