• Here are the stages of your test drive


    Use our Augmented Reality (AR) tool on your smartphone or tablet to see a range of heat pump equipment in your own home.


    Play the sound of a heat pump, with directions on how to set the right volume.


    Guidance on how to set your condensing combi boiler to run in a similar way to a heat pump.


    So you've taken a heat pump for a test drive. What now?

  • But first, why heat pumps?

    Heat pumps don't generate heat like when you burn gas. Instead, they capture heat from the air (in the case of an air source pump), and move it into your house. That is why heat pumps have the strange property of being more than 100% efficient – for every unit of electricity you put in, you capture and concentrate about 3 or more units of heat from the outside. This means that heat pumps don’t just let us use clean renewable electricity rather than burning fossil gas. They also reduce the total amount of energy we need to put into heating our homes by around 3-4 times. Nice!

  • A heat pump system has a number of parts

    The pump. This sits outside and captures the heat, then pumps it indoors.

    Most heat pump systems (and all that provide hot water for showers etc.) need a tank to store hot water.

    Larger radiators may need to be fitted, along with some larger pipes, depending on what you have already. 

    A special control system, that works a bit differently to those used with other types of heating.


    1. SEE

    Using our Augmented Reality (AR) tool is an easy way to see heat pump equipment in your own space.

    Use a QR scanner or visit the appropriate link below on your smartphone or tablet. Now go to the location you would like to view the pump or tank (see pump guidance below). Click "View in AR", and point your phone or tablet at the ground where you want the pump or tank to appear. When it loads, you can reposition it by dragging with one finger to relocate, or with two fingers to rotate. Try viewing it from different angles. You can also take photos and videos to share with others!

  • Your heat pump should...

    Be outside your house, ideally next to it to reduce pipework.

    Have good air flow around it. It varies by model, but the back should normally be about 25cm (1 foot) away from any wall, with 50cm (2 feet) clearance to the sides and top, and 1m (3 feet) free of obstruction in front.

    Be somewhere that is easy to access for maintenance.

    Avoid spaces where the sound might cause disturbance, such as directly outside a bedroom or by a boundary to a neighbour.

  • Small pump (~5-12 kW)

    Scan or click this option if you have a small to medium (e.g. 1-3 bedroom) or better insulated home. See the positioning instructions above. (This doesn't show a particular model of heat pump, but is similar in size and form to some available on the market to give you a good idea of appearance.)

    Large pump (~12-20 kW)

    Scan or click this option if you have a larger (e.g. 4+ bedroom) and/or less well insulated home. See the positioning instructions above. (This doesn't show a particular model of heat pump, but is similar in size and form to some available on the market to give you a good idea of appearance.)

    Hot water tank (200 litre)

    Scan or click this option to see smaller to average sized tank. Typically it is positioned out of the way in a cupboard. It is also better for it to be near to your heat pump, so as little heat as possible is lost from the pipe connecting the two. For the AR view, you might find it easier just to put it in the middle of a room and get a good look at it!

  • 2. HEAR

    Modern heat pumps are very quiet. But it can be helpful in positioning to get an idea of the sound they make. 

    Simply click play on the audio track below to listen to the sound of a modern heat pump.


    If you have a Bluetooth speaker or second phone or tablet, you can play the sound on that to help you with positioning. How will you know you have the right volume? Read on for a guide.

  • To set the right volume...

    Open an online decibel monitor or download an app (such as Sound Meter for Android or Decibel X for iOS).

    Find somewhere quiet. Start playing the sound above on your speaker or second device, and measure the sound level 1 metre (3 feet) away from it.

    Adjust the volume of the sound until you have an average reading of about 50 dB.

    Now position the speaker or second device where you plan to place your heat pump, and take a listen!

  • 3. FEEL

    Instead of making your radiators scalding hot like a gas boiler, heat pumps make them warm for longer. Luckily, most modern boilers can be run in a way that simulates this so you can see what it is like. Find out how here.

    1. First, make sure you have a condensing gas combi boiler. This is probably the case if: a)Your gas boiler was installed in the last 15 years,  AND b) you do NOT have a hot water tank (e.g. in an airing cupboard)
    2. Don’t make this adjustment if you have a hot water tank, because it has to be heated above a certain temperature to prevent bacterial growth.
    3. See the Heating Hub video below and/or check your boiler’s manual to see how to adjust the “flow temperature”. This is the temperature the boiler sends water to the radiators. Some boilers have a knob on the front with a radiator icon (see photo), and some have a digital control.
    4. Turn the flow temperature down to about 50-55oC.
    5. If you use a thermostat with a timer to control your heating, you will probably need to set it to come on earlier than usual as it will take longer to heat up. But it should still get as warm! If it doesn’t, try turning the flow temperature back up a bit.

    Did you like what you saw, heard, and felt in the test drive? Here's what you can expect from the rest of the process of getting a heat pump.



    Installers will need to visit you home to assess what size of heat pump you need, as well as other aspects of the systems like tanks, piping, radiators, and controls. You will probably want to get several quotes.



    This can take several days depending on the amount of work involved. The installer will demonstrate how it works, and also give you commissioning and MCS installation certificates.



    Heat pumps work quite differently to gas boilers, and you will need to learn how to get the best out of them. That's why we're working on some "heat pump driving lessons" - watch this space!

  • Here are some recommended resources to inform the next steps on your heat pump journey

    A background guide to heat pumps from a trusted agency. Plus explore the site for information and ideas on how to make your home more energy efficient.

    Expert and impartial advice on home heating. The website has lots of free information, and you can also pay for different levels of bespoke advice. They provide a useful run-down of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

    The cost of energy is soaring. NEA are a charity taking action to help people living in fuel poverty. You can support their work by donating.