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16 June 2023

Are heat pumps the solution to Europe’s gas boiler problem?

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I have been deeply immersed in the world of heat pumps over the past year – and through this journey, I have come to realise the enormous impact of residential heating on the environment.

Part of the problem is the lack of awareness among the public about the steps they can take to make a difference. When we think about reducing our carbon footprint, electric cars are often one of the first solutions that spring to mind. But replacing a gas boiler is twice as effective for CO2 reduction as driving an electric car - and at only 20% of the cost. It’s also three times as effective as stopping flying, and four times as effective as switching to a plant-based diet.

If you really want to make an impact on the environment and save money on your energy bills, heat pumps are the most effective and practical solution.

The problem with boilers

Residential heating is the third largest CO2 emitting sector, making up around 10% of total CO2 emissions across European countries. That's five times more than Europe’s cement production industry.

This is because around 60% of residential heating in Europe – 85% in the UK, 73% in Germany and 94% in Ireland – comes from fossil fuels such as gas and oil, which are non-renewable resources and produce greenhouse gases when burned. These emissions contribute to climate change and air pollution, which have negative impacts on human health and the environment.

It's abundantly clear that we must electrify residential heating if we are to reach the Paris agreement ambition to stay within 1.5 degrees of global warming, which requires greenhouse gas emissions to fall by 43% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels. But this is no small feat: more than 130 million boilers in Europe are yet to be replaced by sustainable alternatives.

The benefits of heat pumps

Heat pumps are an important part of the solution, because rather than burning fossil fuels to generate energy, they take the air from outside and use it to heat homes. This technology is not new: 60% of homes in Sweden are already fitted with a heat pump, and they account for 92% of all new heating system sales.

At Aira, we are on a mission to make clean energy tech a reality for every home in Europe. That means we want to replace dirty gas boilers with clean, efficient, future-proof heat pumps, which produce significantly less CO2 and save customers money.

Let me break down those benefits for you.

Heat pumps are four times more efficient than boilers

Whereas gas boilers burn fossil fuels to generate heat, heat pumps simply use the free air outside and a small amount of electricity to heat your home and water. For every 1 kW of electricity that goes into a heat pump, combined with 3kW of thermal energy from the free air, it produces an energy output of 4 kW. That's over four times more efficient than a gas boiler, which only produces 0.9 kW of heat for every 1 kW that goes in. Switching from a gas or oil boiler to a heat pump running on electricity therefore instantly reduces energy consumption by over 75%.

Heat pumps emit 75% - 100% less CO2 than boilers

Heat pumps are much less harmful to the environment than gas boilers, because they do not burn fossil fuels to generate heat, but use electricity, which can be generated from renewable sources. Because of this, they reduce CO2 emissions by at least 70% - and this increases to 100% if they are powered using renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydro power.

In fact, replacing 30% of Europe’s boilers with heat pumps would save the same amount of CO2 as removing 65 million cars from our roads.

Heat pumps can save you money on your energy bills

If you switch to a heat pump, you will never pay a gas bill again (assuming you do not have a gas hob). Even though your electricity consumption will increase, you will still save up to 25% on your monthly heating bill.* You’ll also save money before you commit to buying the product: Aira’s home energy assessment is free, whereas gas boiler buyers can expect to spend around £100.

Aira offers an all-inclusive plan with a low monthly fee with all your servicing included. What’s more, countries across Europe have introduced incentive schemes to help people join the clean energy revolution – including the £7,500 Boiler Upgrade Scheme in England & Wales.

Heat pumps have longer lifespans than boilers

Heat pumps are low maintenance and have a longer lifespan than boilers. Our heat pumps come with the Aira Comfort Guarantee, a 10 Year Performance Guarantee and a 10 Year Product & Service Warranty – necessary servicing, repairs and maintenance – whereas boilers tend to only be covered for two to five years.

By investing in a heat pump, not only do you benefit from its energy efficiency and environmental advantages, but you also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a longer-lasting heating system, saving you money in the long run.

Heat pumps are a future-proof technology

Boiler bans are coming; in fact, they’re already a reality in several countries. Swapping your gas boiler for an air to water heat pump will help you stay one step ahead of the game. It's a proactive choice that not only prepares you for the changing landscape of heating systems and protects you from fluctuating energy costs, but also aligns with global efforts to combat climate change.

Towards a clean energy-tech revolution

Global warming is the most pressing issue facing society – and Europe’s recent energy crisis has underlined the need to find a solution quickly. By making heat pumps accessible to more homes across the continent, we are helping to empower everyone – whoever they are and wherever they live – to reduce their carbon emissions. In doing so, we will create a clean energy-tech revolution – protecting the planet, our communities, and the future of generations to come.

Discover how much a heat pump may cost you with our heat pump cost calculator.

From Pamela Brown, Aira CMO

*Your heating bill will be made up of your electricity bill and Aira’s all-inclusive plan.

Heat pumps are four times more efficient than a gas boiler. For every 1kW energy put in, you get around 4kW out, compared to a boiler where you only get 0.9 kW out.

Heat pumps also represent better value for money, because they are much easier to maintain and last longer. They can last over 18 years – that's 25% longer than gas boilers (based on average lifetime of a boiler of 10-15 years).

Yes – and if you use solar energy to heat your home, you’ll not only remove carbon from the equation but you’ll also have a fully green heating system that pays for itself. 


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