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Heat pumps vs gas boilers

Heat pumps vs gas boilers

When it comes to central heating for homes, there are several options available. But two of the most popular choices are heat pumps and boilers.

Both systems have their pros and cons, so it's essential to note the differences for an informed decision. In this article, we will compare heat pumps and boilers to help you determine which one is right for your heating needs.

What are heat pumps?

Air source heat pumps are a type of heating system that uses electricity to transfer heat from one place to another. Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air or ground outside your home and transferring it inside. This process is highly efficient and can provide both heating and cooling for your home.

Heat pumps are known for their energy efficiency, producing more heat energy than the electrical energy they consume. This makes them an environmentally friendly option for home heating, also helping to reduce your energy bills.

What are boilers?

A more traditional heating system that uses gas or oil to heat water. It then distributed this in your home via radiators or underfloor heating.

Known for their ability to provide a consistent heat source, they’re best utilised in colder climates, as they can produce high heat and water temperatures.

Electric boilers are also available, which use electricity to heat water rather than gas/oil.

Air source heat pumps pros:

  • Highly energy efficient, as they transfer heat from the air to warm your home, rather than generating it.
  • Can both heat and cool your home, providing year-round comfort.
  • Eco-friendly. They don’t burn fossil fuels and produce lower carbon emissions compared to gas boilers.
  • Available as an air source or ground source heat pump.
  • Can be used with solar panels.
  • Provide consistent and even warmth throughout your home.
  • Can provide hot water, removing the need for a separate water heater.

Air source heat pumps cons:

  • Higher upfront cost, especially if your home does not already have the infrastructure.
  • Not as effective in extremely cold climates.
  • Require electricity to operate. So if your electricity costs are high, it may not be the most cost-effective option.
  • They may require more maintenance than gas boilers, as they have more moving parts.
  • May not be suitable for homes with limited outdoor/indoor space, as they require an outdoor unit.

Gas boiler pros:

  • Usually less expensive to install.
  • They provide instant hot water and heat, with no need to wait for the system to heat up.
  • Can be more effective in very cold climates, as they can provide higher heat output.
  • Boilers typically have a long lifespan.
  • Suitable for smaller homes, as they don’t need an outdoor unit.

Gas boiler cons:

  • Not as energy efficient as heat pumps, burning fossil fuels to produce heat.
  • They produce carbon emissions and contribute to air pollution.
  • Does not provide cooling capabilities, so you would need a separate cooling system for the summer months.
  • They may not provide as consistent heating throughout your home compared to heat pumps.
  • Boilers require a constant supply of natural gas, which may not be available in all areas.

Can a heat pump replace a boiler?

Heat pumps are highly efficient and can provide both heating and cooling for your home. Ideal as a replacement for traditional boilers, they require less energy to operate and produce fewer emissions.

If you're looking to install a new heating system in your home, it may be worth considering an air source heat pump. They can provide both hot water and heating for your home, and can help reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint in the process.


Heat pumps can be more expensive than boilers. This is due to the initial installation costs, as they require an external unit and some additional infrastructure.

On average, a boiler could cost between £580 - £3,500 (excluding installation). Where as, an air source heat pump could cost between £7,000 - £13,000.

In the long run, heat pumps have cheaper running costs, generating more heat energy than the electricity consumed.

Environmental impact

When it comes to the environmental impact of heat pumps and boilers, heat pumps are the more eco-friendly option. Unlike boilers, they use air to generate heat, rather than burning fossil fuels.

This makes them much more energy efficient and produces fewer carbon emissions compared to gas boilers. Many heat pump systems include cooling capabilities, so you won't need a separate cooling unit in summer.


While both options can be highly efficient, heat pumps are considered to be the more efficient option. This is due to being able to produce more heat than the electricity they consume. This can help reduce your energy bills in the long run and is better for the environment.

Boilers tend to be less efficient, as they burn natural gas to generate heat. This makes them less efficient than and can lead to higher heating bills in the long run.


Heat pumps require more regular maintenance than boilers, as they have more moving parts. This can include checking the outdoor unit for blockages or debris and cleaning filters. Regular servicing and maintenance of the system is essential to keep it running efficiently and reliably.

Boilers tend to require less maintenance, as they are simpler systems with fewer components. However, regular servicing is still recommended to ensure any potential problems are caught early. This may include checking for leaks or corrosion in the pipes and replacing any worn parts.


Either system should be sufficient to heat your home. Heat pumps are highly efficient and environmentally friendly, but they can be more expensive to install..

Boilers, on the other hand, are reliable and provide a constant heat source, but they require a constant supply of gas or oil. Ultimately, the best choice for your home will depend on your specific needs, budget, and location.

If you're looking to add a renewable heating system to your home or business space, Unitherm can help. We have a range of air source heat pumps, radiators and underfloor heating systems to suit any size and budget. Contact us today at for more information.

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