The right time for heat pumps: Decarbonising home heating in a staged retrofit

May 22, 2024

Research report

Delivered by Passivhaus Trust, The UK passive house organisation

April 2024: Passivhaus has recently put together a research report aimed at when a heat pump should be installed in a staged retrofit. All results here were obtained through modelling and supported by data provided by Switchee.

Switchee data suggests that when energy prices rise, people adjust their heating behaviour, sometimes reducing heating hours. This can result in unexpectedly high bills for residents who use intermittent heat pump systems, which struggle to achieve comfortable temperatures when compared to gas boilers.

This research report investigates when to install heat pumps in staged retrofits, highlighting the complexity of the decision. Immediate installation reduces carbon emissions but presents challenges for social landlords. Minimal fabric improvements may increase running costs, but deeper retrofits favour heat pumps. However, households with limited budgets may struggle with heat pump efficiency. Integration of fabric measures is crucial for optimising heat pump performance. Energy tariffs also influence running costs, with electricity priced higher than gas, but evolving tariff structures offer potential solutions.

Download the full report

The research report details comprehensive findings into heat pump installations, which include:

  • When to install a heat pump in a staged retrofit. 
  • Why fabric first?
  • Insulation level and continuous vs intermittent heading. 
  • Heating on a budget: intermittent vs. continuous operation of ASHP.
  • How does this look in the context of a long-term retrofit plan?

About Passivhaus

The Passivhaus Trust is an independent, non-profit organisation that provides leadership in the UK for the adoption of the Passivhaus standard and methodology. Passivhaus is the leading international low-energy design standard, backed by over 30 years of building performance evidence. It is a tried-and-tested solution that enables a meaningful transition to net-zero now. Over 65,000 buildings have been certified to this standard worldwide. The Trust promotes Passivhaus as a robust way of providing high standards of occupant comfort and health and slashing energy use and carbon emissions from buildings in the UK.

The UK Passivhaus House Orginisation

For more information about adding Switchee to your housing portfolio, contact our team today. 

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