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Will a heat pump keep my home warm in winter?

It’s getting cold out there. We ask an expert whether a heat pump is really up to the job when the temperatures start to drop.  

Choosing an eco-friendly heating system can be a tough decision, especially if you're worried about its efficiency in colder weather. But with a heat pump, you get the best of both worlds. You can move away from fossil fuels and keep your home comfortably warm at the same time. 

Air source heat pumps are an excellent alternative to traditional heating systems as they use natural heat from the air surrounding your home. This not only helps to reduce your carbon footprint but also helps to lower your heating bills. However, while an environmentally friendly solution is important, you also want to choose a system that can be relied on to keep you warm when the temperatures drop. 

But if the heat pump extracts heat from the air, what happens when it gets cold outside? In the UK, where temperatures can dip to around -10°C, this is obviously an area of concern. How is there enough warmth in the air to heat your home? We asked one of our expert installers to explain how it works:

If a heat pump extracts heat from the air, what happens when it gets cold outside?
Heat pump in winter
Woman and child by radiator

How heat pumps work in winter

Heat pumps continue to keep your home toasty warm however cold it gets outside. An air source heat pump collects free thermal energy from the air, with the help of a refrigerant. The movement of its particles is then sped up in the confined space of a compressor. This quickly increases its heat before releasing its warmth inside your house.

The refrigerant can absorb heat even in extremely low temperatures. And remember, Celsius is a man-made scale - 0°C doesn’t mean that there is no heat in the air at all. So even if the starting temperature of the air is low, your home stays comfortably warm. This technology works in even the most extreme winter conditions, down to -25°C. 

This bite-sized video explains how it all works:

Heat pump efficiency in cold weather

Your heat pump will have to work harder in winter. It won’t be quite as efficient in cold temperatures as it would be in milder conditions. More electricity may be required to remove the heat from the air, making it less efficient during a cold snap. However, the UK generally enjoys mild winters and the instances of a hard frost are few and far between. You’ll find the occasional cold spell won’t make much of an impact on your bills, and they’ll still be far lower than with a traditional boiler. 

Regular maintenance improves efficiency

As with most things, it’ll work better if you look after it. Make sure your heat pump is serviced annually, just as you would with a combi boiler. It’s also worth carrying out some pre-winter checks to get maximum efficiency. Inspect for obvious damage, clear away any leaves and debris from the drain and airflow, and give it a test run before winter sets in. Give it some love, and it’ll give you a warm, cosy home in return.

In Norway, 60% of households have heat pumps installed

Colder countries love heat pumps

In winter, the average temperature in Norway is around -7°C, and it regularly drops down to -20°C. Yet, they have the highest heat pump adoption rates in the EU. In Norway, 60% of households have heat pumps installed, equating to around 1.4 million heat pumps. This is followed by Sweden with 43% of households, Finland with 41%, and Estonia with 34%. It’s fair to say the colder countries are big heat pump fans!

Now’s the time to switch

Buying and installing a heat pump is now really cost-effective. It’s often cheaper than replacing your boiler.  The newly increased Boiler Upgrade Scheme (you now get a grant of £7,500) brings the costs down to zero in some cases. You could end up with a brand-new heat pump, fully installed and ready to go, at absolutely no cost to yourself.

Win £7,500 to fuel your home heating upgrade

Enter our brilliant new competition! Government funding for heat pumps has increased to £7,500 and we're matching it, with an additional £7,500 for one lucky winner. From now until the end of April 2024, you can enter our prize draw to win £7,500 towards a Daikin heat pump installed by one of our Sustainable Home Experts.

So, you can receive up to £15,000 in total to switch from a fossil fuel boiler to a low carbon heat pump - and create a more sustainable climate at home. 

Begin your heat pump journey

Find out more about our heat pumps, the available funding, and the steps you need to take next: