There are two common heat pumps for use in domestic property.
Air source heat pumps (ASHP) use energy in the outside air to produce hot water for domestic heating and hot water systems. They work a bit like a fridge in reverse. However, they produce heat at relatively low temperatures compared to typical oil heating systems, which is why they are best used to compliment an existing oil boiler, rather than as a replacement.
Used in this way, an ASHP can provide all the heat you need during mild weather, and can be supplemented by the oil boiler when things turn colder. This twin system approach can be very effective at cutting heating costs because the oil boiler and ASHP are being used in the most efficient way possible.
Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) are similar to ASHP but take energy from the ground instead of the air, using a buried ground loop or borehole to transfer heat into a building to provide heating and hot water. These are usually more efficient than an ASHP but are much more expensive to install. They also require more space. For most homes, an ASHP is a better option as a compliment to an existing oil heating system.
It is also possible to combine all three systems together – oil, solar water heating and an ASHP. This is potentially the most efficient and environmentally-friendly system of all, and will have the biggest impact on reducing your carbon emissions.
Things to consider