Is A Heat Pump Cover Worth It?

In 2022, around 2 million Scottish households used gas to heat their homes. At the time, only around 278,000 of Scotland’s 2.5 million households used heat pumps, electric storage heaters, or other heating systems.

Though not yet widely used, heat pumps are becoming a popular heating solution among Scottish homeowners. Heat pumps have minimal running costs, help reduce carbon emissions, and offer an energy-efficient way to provide heating and hot water.

At the end of 2022, more than 18,000 Scottish homeowners had heat pumps installed.

One question many homeowners have – when installing and using heat pumps – is whether they should use a heat pump cover during the cold Scottish winters.

If you are one of those homeowners, continue reading as we tell you all you need to know about heat pump covers, their advantages and disadvantages, and whether you should use one.

Summary

Do You Need a Heat Pump Cover in Scotland?

In short, it is a good idea to have a heat pump cover in Scotland. However, there are some factors to consider before you cover your heat pump. These include:

  1. The type of heat pump

If using an air-source heat pump, a cover can protect your unit from sleet, snow, ice, and strong winds. Though air source heat pumps can fully operate in cold weather, a pump cover helps provide additional protection against harsh winter conditions and debris.

A ground source heat pump – which is installed underground – is protected from weather conditions and, therefore, does not need a cover.

  1. Where the heat pump is

Opt for a heat pump cover if your air source heat pump is out in the open and exposed to the elements, especially if it is often covered in snow, ice and debris.

  1. The location of your home

If your area experiences particularly harsh and cold winters, a cover can help protect your air source heat pump from extreme cold.

Because heat pumps draw warmth from the air outside your house to heat your living areas, using a cover in windy areas can also help improve its efficiency. Therefore, homeowners in areas in the north and west of Scotland – including the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney – that regularly experience gale force winds can benefit from using a cover on their heat pumps.

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Advantages of a Heat Pump Cover

Consider the following advantages a heat pump cover offers to help in your decision-making process:

  • Protection from the cold: A cover can protect your air source heat pump from cold temperatures. Pump covers can also improve the efficiency and extend the lifespan of air-source heat pumps.
  • Protection from weather elements and debris: Using a cover shields your air source heat pump from wind, ice, and snow during cold weather. The covers also keep debris – like leaves, twigs and other materials – from clogging the air vents, ensuring your pump works optimally. Some believe that covers can also help extend the lifetime of your heat pumps by preventing rust and corrosion.
  • Helps reduce noise: Using a cover muffles the noise produced by your heat pump. Although the sound produced is minor, a cover adds extra sound insulation.

Disadvantages of a Heat Pump Cover

For all its benefits, a heat pump cover also has some disadvantages, including:

  • Reduced airflow: Depending on its material, a cover can restrict airflow, reducing the efficiency of your heat pump. An air source heat pump that struggles with airflow has to work harder to heat your home, which increases your energy bills.

Reduced airflow can also lead to a build-up of moisture and encourage mould and mildew growth. A wet central heating system can also become rusty and corroded, leading to a shorter lifespan.

  • Overheating: If your heat pump does not have sufficient airflow to take in and expel air, it can lead to overheating. Overheating can damage internal parts or cause the pump to break down. If using a cover with non-breathable material, remove it before switching on your unit.
  • Reduced heat output: A cover can lead to a loss in heat output, reducing the pump’s heating abilities.
  • Impact your warranty: Some installers may consider using a cover as an improper use or maintenance of your heat pump, which can nullify your unit’s warranty.
  • Can lead to increased noise: If using a cover made from non-breathable material, the pump can struggle with airflow and cause vibrations or increased noise levels.
  • High purchase costs: A cover, on average, costs between £400 and £1,000, which is pretty costly compared to a more traditional heating system that does not require such housing.
Edinburgh Winter

Other Methods for Protecting Your Heat Pump

If you’re still sitting on the fence about buying and using a heat pump cover, you can still protect your heat pump in the following ways:

  • Remove any debris around the unit: Regularly check for ice and snow build-up to ensure proper airflow around your heat pump. Trim hedges or bushes around the pump to avoid a build-up of leaves and other dead plant material that can impede airflow.

Heat pumps need unrestricted airflow to absorb heat from the air and transfer it to your home’s interior.

  • Install a drip loop on the pump’s electrical cord: A drip loop ensures that the water droplets that drip down the cord do not end up inside the unit, which can lead to short circuits.
  • Insulate your heat pump’s pipes: Hot water pipes often freeze and burst during the cold winter months. However, you can insulate the heat pump’s external pipes to prevent them from freezing and bursting.

External pipes are prone to losing heat to the environment, requiring more energy to heat your home and hot water cylinder. Insulating them helps conserve energy and keep your energy bills low.

  • Regularly inspect and replace air filters: Replacing the old and clogged-up air filters in your air source heat pump will ensure the unit doesn’t work too hard to keep your home warm and air clean.
  • Regularly service your heat pump: Make sure that a licensed technician services your heat pump regularly. Stay up to date with services and make sure that any faults are quickly picked up and fixed.

FAQs

On average, an air source heating system costs around £14,000. Ground source heat pumps retail for roughly £28,000. Though pricey, heat pumps are a long-term investment that could save households a lot of money in the long run.

Your heat pump’s overall price – including its installation costs – will depend on the size of your home, your quality of home insulation, and the desired heating temperatures you’re looking for.

The type of material used to make your heat pump cover also affects its price. A cover made of metal mesh costs around £400 to £800, while a wooden cover costs between £500 and £900. Covers made from solid steel retail for £1,000 or more.

Take advantage of the following government initiatives to replace your old, energy-hungry gas boiler with a heat pump:

  • Energy Company Obligation 4 (ECO4): This initiative assists homeowners with funding to install heat pumps and other home improvements to improve their energy efficiency. The scheme provides interest-free loans or grants for the installation of:
    • Air source heat pumps
    • Cavity wall insulation
    • Solid wall insulation
    • Roof insulation
    • Room-in-roof-insulation
    • Solar panels
    • Upgraded heating controls.
  • Warmer Homes Scotland: This government-backed programme helps households install a range of energy-saving improvements to heat their homes. Depending on your eligibility, homeowners may qualify for the installation of:
    • Central heating (a new gas boiler or air source heat pump)
    • Loft insulation
    • Draught-proofing
    • Renewable energy heating systems.

Heat pumps help reduce your electricity bill and come with a range of other benefits, including:

  • Minimal maintenance
  • Low running costs
  • Energy-efficient
  • Help reduce your household’s carbon emissions and carbon footprint
  • Long lifespan
  • Requires no fuel (oil, LP gas or wood) to heat your home
  • Releases zero emissions

Final Thoughts

With the global push to use more environmentally friendly heating sources, many more Scottish households have started using heat pumps to keep their homes warm.

Your choice of using a heat pump cover will depend on various factors. Speak to your provider or installer to see if a heat pump cover would work for your heat pump.

Install one that fully covers and protects your heat pump and provides sufficient ventilation to prevent a build-up of moisture or overheating.

Also, regularly check for and remove snow, ice, and other debris around your heat pump to ensure it operates optimally.