Scottish Heat Pump Stats

For the past few years, energy costs have soared to unprecedented levels. While headlines may draw attention to this issue, it doesn’t alleviate the strain on our wallets.

The Scottish government is marching towards a greener future, with ambitious targets to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045 – five years ahead of the rest of the UK.

However, they can’t embark on this venture alone.

Government-funded energy efficiency schemes have been introduced, allowing eligible homeowners to upgrade their heating systems. Among the options, heat pumps, especially air source heat pumps, are the preferred choice.

In this article, we will delve into heat pump statistics and explore the various types available. This is particularly fitting given a recent study revealing that 51% of Scottish homeowners were unaware of the existence of heat pumps in the first place.

Overview

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Why Are Heat Pumps A Vital Part Of The Scottish Net Zero Plan?

With the national, and global, emphasis on sustainability, paired with the Scottish government’s ambitious plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2045, making homes more energy-efficient has never been more important.

Currently, the majority of Scottish homes rely on fossil fuel heating systems. Only 11% of homes utilise energy-saving methods, such as having a biomass boiler, heat pump, or electric storage heating.

Heat pump installations are vital to effectively achieve these goals as every oil and gas boiler releases carbon emissions, impacting the planet. Part of the government’s plan involves providing financial support and interest-free loans – through schemes like ECO4 – for heat pump heating system upgrades.

There are three types of heat pumps available:

  • Air source heat pumps (ASHPs)– these are cheaper to install and transfer heat from the outside to indoors.
  • Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) – these are more costly but they are considered a more stable and reliable source of heat. They extract heat from beneath the ground.
  • Water source heat pumps (WSHPs) – these heat pumps work in a similar way to GSHPs. They extract water (which is converted into heat) from rivers, ponds or boreholes.

Air source heat pumps are the most commonly installed heat pumps.

There are two types of air-source heat pumps, namely:

  • Air-to-air – generates heat from circulating fans but doesn’t provide hot water too well.
  • Air-to-water – distributes heat through wet central heating systems and works well with larger radiators and underfloor heating systems.

An air source heat pump moves air from outside to inside to generate warmth for homes. They consist of five main components: a compressor, expansion valve, condenser, fan and evaporator. To give you a simple analogy, they work similarly to refrigerators but produce warmth instead of cold.

Even in lower temperatures and chilly weather, like in Scotland, there is still warm air outdoors. While air-source heat pumps may take a little longer to generate heat in the depths of winter, they still work well in the UK. For example, their efficiency drops from 300% – 400% to about 200% (2 units of heat per unit of electricity) in colder climates.

What Regions In Scotland Have The Most Heat Pumps?

Out of 2.5 million Scottish homes, the majority of the domestic sector still relies on fossil fuels for heating, such as gas and oil. As mentioned, only 11% of homes (roughly 278,000 households) across Scotland have an energy-efficient heating system, like heat pumps or renewable energy sources.

From a 2010 – 2021 study as per local authority areas:

  1. The Scottish Highlands had the most heat pump installations, just shy of 4,000
  2. South Lanarkshire had roughly 2,500 installations
  3. Dumfries and Galloway had just over 2,000 installations
  4. Argyll and Bute had about 1,800 installations
  5. Na h-Eileanan Siar had about 1,650 installations
  6. Aberdeenshire had just shy of 1,500 installations

When looking at heat pump installations from 2010 – 2021 for each region, each area has a varying number of properties. Based on the number of installations per 1,000 properties, the statistics are quite different:

  1. Na h-Eileanan Siar = 125
  2. Orkney Islands = 115
  3. Shetland Islands = 58
  4. Dumfries and Galloway = 38
  5. Highland = 35
  6. Argyll and Bute = 30

Note: These figures are an estimated guideline and the true number may be much lower.

What regions are falling behind in heat pump installation?

Regions that are falling behind with the least number (less than 200) of recorded heat pumps are:

  1. West Dunbartonshire
  2. East Renfrewshire
  3. Inverclyde
  4. Dundee City
  5. Renfrewshire
  6. Aberdeen City

In the same survey, Stirling, East Lothian, and Angus had less than 500 heat pumps installed.

These next statistics indicate the correlation between oil boilers in comparison to installed heat pumps. The areas mentioned have higher oil-fueled heating systems and lower numbers of heat pump installations.

  • Aberdeenshire = 20.4%
  • Moray = 13.5%
  • Scottish Borders = 12.9%
heat pump snow scotland

What Are The Future Heat Pump Targets Of The Scottish Government?

A 2021 survey showed that 51% of homeowners were unaware of heat pumps and 40% thought they were too expensive to install. Only about 20% said they would consider a heat pump installation within the next five years.

The Scottish government is committed to reaching its targets in the following ways:

  • 80,000 – 100,000 heat pump installations between 2021 and 2026
  • 170,000 installations in 2023
  • No fossil fuel installations for newly built homes from 2024
  • No oil boiler replacements from 2025
  • No gas boiler replacements from 2030

Note: As of September 2021, no applications for oil and gas boilers will be accepted by the Warmer Homes Scotland Scheme.

The Climate Change Commission (CCC) targets are as follows:

  • 136,000 heat pump installations between 2021 and 2026
  • 83,000 installations in 2030

This aggressive approach emphasises the viability of heat pumps as the primary heating source for Scottish homes.

heat pump

What Are The Benefits Of Heat Pumps To Scottish Homeowners

Heat pumps are energy-saving heating systems that reduce carbon emissions and energy bills across UK and Scottish homes. While they require electricity to run, they are more cost-effective when compared to gas boilers. There are many advantages to having a heat pump installed at home.

  • They are low-carbon heating units and form part of the government’s plan to reach net zero by 2045.
  • Heat pumps are 300% – 400% energy efficient, meaning they provide 3 to 4 units of heat per unit of electricity.
  • A heat pump is cost-effective, keeping homes warmer for longer.
  • A heat pump is an effective heat output system that provides on-demand hot water.
  • There is no need for replacement cylinders, like gas or oil, as heat is produced from outside air.
  • They are low maintenance and can last up to 20 years.
  • Air source heat pumps can operate in temperatures as low as -25 °C.
  • A heat pump uses renewable heat sources and is environmentally friendly.
  • Heat pumps can help reduce energy bills.
  • They seamlessly connect with central heating systems, larger radiators, and underfloor heating units.
  • Air-source heat pumps are cheaper to install when compared to ground-source or water-source heat pumps.
  • There are funding and support schemes available – for eligible households – for a heat pump installation, like through the ECO4 scheme.

Fun fact: Scotland generated 85% of its electricity consumption from renewable energy sources in 2021. By October 2022, the Scottish government had already installed almost 19,000 domestic air-source heat pumps.

18,072 Scottish homes had heat pumps installed by the end of 2022. This is a significant step towards the Scottish government’s goal of fitting 40% of homes with low-carbon heating by 2030.

It is expected that gas boilers will no longer see the light of day (but no, there is no gas boiler ban – just no new builds with gas boilers) and that heat pumps will increasingly be adopted.

Envirohomes Renewables can help you get financial support through the ECO4 scheme to get a heat pump installed in your home.

FAQs

Generally, you don’t need planning permission for a heat pump installation. However, if you live in a listed building or a conservation area, you may need to check with your local council beforehand.

From a study conducted between 2010 and 2021, Glasgow City had roughly 900 heat pumps installed.

As of 2021, Edinburgh only had about 250 heat pumps installed. They don’t seem as popular in this region, especially when compared to the 4,000 in the Highlands.

To qualify for the ECO 4 grant, you need to be:

  • A low-income household, receiving less than £19,720 per year
  • On benefits (Housing Benefits, Child Support, etc.)
  • Private landlords
  • Pensioners
  • House energy rating of D or lower

Air source heat pumps are the cheaper option, costing between £13,000 and £20,000. Ground source heat pumps are more expensive, from £22,000 to £40,000.

The Energy Saving Trust is a UK organisation aimed at individuals and businesses. It provides energy-saving information and cost-saving tips to make homes more energy-efficient.

Conclusion

As we close off this article about heat pump statistics, one thing is clear: Scotland has a green future. The government’s vision for a net-zero future is ambitious, but with collective effort and utilising the various funding schemes available, many Scottish homeowners can benefit from heat pumps as their primary heating system.

Allow Envirohomes Renewables to assist you with heat pump needs.