Hybrid Heating Systems: Pros, Cons & Costs
Many call it the future of home heating, but is a hybrid heating the best solution for your home? And, even if it is, is it affordable? We've explored the pros, cons and costs of hybrid heating to find out what homeowners need to know.
Pros of a hybrid heating system
Better Energy Efficiency
A hybrid heating system is a great way to make your heating system more energy efficient. A heat pump is generally most efficient during the summer and a boiler is better at coping with very low temperatures. The system is designed to automatically switch between your heat pump and boiler depending on which is the most energy efficient at the time.
Although a heat pump uses some electricity to run, it produces around 3-4 times as much energy as they use, which is an energy efficiency of level 300-400%. Even the most efficient boiler rarely achieves efficiency of more than 94%.
Lower Heating Bills
A heat pump uses some electricity to run, but as it runs on free energy from the air or ground, running costs are minimal. You'll also need to use your boiler less and so won't need to buy as much oil or gas from a supplier. Some sources estimate that homeowners could save up to 50% on their heating bills annually.
Reduced carbon footprint
Using less fossil fuels is not only going to save you money but it will also help the environment. When we burn fuels like gas, oil or coal it emits carbon into the atmosphere which is damaging our planet. Renewable energy technologies such as heat pumps, solar and wind power are becoming more and more common are becoming more affordable the government and heating industry works towards a cleaner energy future.
A hybrid system is intelligent enough to give you the best heating solution, no matter the weather. So when the temperature drops and your heat pump is having to work too hard to produce enough heat for your home, the boiler will kick in to sort it out without you having to lift a finger. When it warms up again, the boiler will cut out and the heat pump will take over to prevent you using unnecessary gas or oil.
Many heat pumps can also act in reverse and become an air conditioner in the summer. By investing a hybrid system you're getting heating, hot water and air conditioning in one automated energy efficient solution.
Longer lasting system
The average life expectancy for a boiler heating your home by itself is 10-15 years. In a hybrid system the boiler won't need to work as much and will last longer. As they work as a team both the heat pump and boiler should be in better condition for longer making maintenance simpler and repairs less likely.
Earnings Through RHI Scheme
If you install an air-to-water or ground source heat pump into a wet central heating system you could be entitled to earn money through the government's Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. In an effort to encourage homeowners to adopt renewable heating solutions and reduce the UK's carbon footprint, energy suppliers are obliged to pay you for the energy your heat pump generates. The payback you could receive is based on a per kWh tariff (which is recalculated regularly) and payments are made quarterly over 7 years.
Cons of a hybrid heating system
Not completely renewable
The hybrid system still uses a boiler running on fossil fuels. In an ideal world we would be heating our homes with completely renewable solutions and remove the need to burn fossil fuels completely. That may be a possibility in the future but currently there is not a renewable solution which can heat the average home without some reliance on fossil fuels.
Long term solution
A hybrid system has a higher upfront cost than a standard boiler replacement. Over the long term you should get this money back in lower energy bills and RHI earnings, but if you plan to move home in the next few years it might not be the best financial choice. There is a possibility a hybrid heating system could add value to your home when you choose to sell, but the technology is so new this is by no means a certainty.
Costly to install
As we've said a hybrid system involves a high upfront cost which may not be realistic for some homeowners.
Costs to install a hybrid heating system
The initial cost of installing a hybrid heating system can range from around £5,000 to £10,000.
While a traditional boiler replacement is likely to be cheaper costing between £2,500 – £4,000 on average, you need to consider the longer term financial benefits as the upfront costs don't tell the whole financial story. This is because you're likely to see a reduction in your heating bills with a hybrid due to your energy savings, your heating system should last longer than a standard boiler and you'll be earning money through government's Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme for 7 years.
Earning money with the RHI
To give you an indication of the money you could earn through the RHI for both ASHPs and GSHPs, we did some calculations with the government's BEIS Domestic Calculator based on a 3 bedroom semi-detached house in England or Wales*.
Air source heat pumps (air-to-water)
|RHI Payment Per Quarter||Annual RHI Payment||Earned over 7 years|
|Replacing Gas or Oil System installed pre 2005||£185||£740||£5,180|
|Replacing Coal Fired System||£193||£770||£5,390|
|Replacing Other Electricity System||£160||£640||£4,480|
Ground source heat pumps
|RHI Payment Per Quarter||Annual RHI Payment||Earned over 7 years|
|Replacing Gas or Oil System installed pre 2005||£400||£1,600||£11,200|
|Replacing Coal Fired System||£400||£1,600||£11,200|
|Replacing Other Electricity System||£325||£1,300||£9,100|
The calculations are based on a home built between 1976 - 1982 with an unknown amount of loft insulation and cavity walls with insulation and a tariff for applications received before 01 September 2018 (10.49p per kWh for ASHPs and 20.46p per kWh for GSHPs). Tariffs are recalculated every quarter.
Lifetime costs: Hybrid vs Boiler
Your central heating system is a long term investment so naturally it makes sense to look at the long term financial costs and savings.
The average industry life expectancy for a boiler is 10-15 years, but if a heat pump is included in your system the boiler will not have to work as hard and should therefore last longer.
Daikin are one of the leading manufacturers of hybrid heat pump systems and have done some calculations comparing upfront costs, running costs and RHI earnings. Here's what they found*:
|Lifetime Running Cost Over 15 years||£16,770 (Annual £1,118)||£14,490 (Annual £966)|
|Replacement (after 10-15 years)||£3,000||£0|
|Total Lifetime Cost||£22,770||£23,270|
These figures suggest that over 15 years there is very little difference between the cost of a hybrid system and the cost of a boiler.
In fact. Daikin estimate that their Altherma heat pump will cost just £500 more over the long term and this is assuming 4 radiator changes are needed at a cost of £600. If radiator changes aren't needed then a hybrid system could actually cost you slightly less.
And when you factor in 7 years of potential RHI earnings totalling around £4,500 – £6,000, the cost of a hybrid heating system drops again. So if you can afford the upfront cost of a hybrid heating system, it's likely to be a better financial investment as well as an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment.
If you'd like to find out more about how a hybrid heating system could work in your home, send us an enquiry today. We can put you in touch with Gas Safe reputable heating engineers in your area.
*Daikin's calculations are based on the following assumptions:
1. Annual heat demand of 22,500kWh
1. Electricity cost per kWh inc. VAT £0.12
3. Gas cost per kWh inc. VAT £0.04
4. Boiler replacement foreseen based on industry stated life expectancy
5. Hybrid life expectancy increase due to shared load across both heat pump and boiler
6. 75% heat pump coverage assumed
7. 50°C flow temperatures
8. Hybrid installation cost assumes 4 radiator changes @£600 (may not be required)
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