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Heat Pump Systems

What are Heat Pumps?

Heat-pumps are electrical devices which convert energy from the air outside of your home into useful heat, it works in the opposite way to fridges which extract heat from its inside.

Heat Pumps work best in well insulated houses and are very economical to run and are an extremely efficient alternative to oil, gas, solid fuel and electric home heating systems.

Different types of heat pump systems draw heat from different sources:

·     Air

·     Water

·     Ground

The heat generated is released by way of radiators and/or underfloor heating or warm air.

All heat pump systems, excluding those providing warm air to the home, can supply all of the hot water needed for baths, showers and sinks.

Types of Heat pump system

Air source

This is the most commonly used heat pump system and extracts heat from external air, typically using an outside unit. These heat pump systems do not require underground piping to source heat and so are generally cheaper and easier to install compared to ground source heat pump systems. The most popular heat pumps are air to water heat pumps.

In addition to the traditional air source heat pump there are also the following other types:

·     Exhaust-air to water heat pump systems are similar to air to water but include mechanical extract ventilation and recover heat from air drawn from the dwelling.

·     In Air to air heat pump systems the heat is distributed through air units. Air to air heat pump systems do not provide hot water. 

Ground source

A ground-source heat pump system uses the earth as a source of renewable heat. A ground source heat pump system, also known as a geothermal heat pump system, uses the earth as a source of renewable heat.

Heat is removed from the ground through collector pipework and then transferred to the heat pump. The ground collector can be laid out horizontally at a shallow depth below the surface or else vertically to a greater depth.

Water source

Water source heat pump systems use open water, such as lakes, rivers or streams, as a heat source. Heat is removed from the water through collector pipework and then transferred to the heat pump.

The SEAI have provided a guide on Heat pumps which is downloadable from here:

Download A Homeowner's Guide to Heat Pump Systems

While ground and water source heat pump systems have the extra complexity and cost of installing the collector pipework to draw heat from the ground or water, they can have more consistent performance than air source heat pump systems, even in colder weather.

How to optimise your home for a Heat Pump?

Heat pump systems operate most efficiently at a lower temperature to generate heat. So the main requirement to achieve this is for your house to be well insulated and this is a minimum criteria for a to qualify for an SEAI Home Energy grant for a heat pump system.

To ensure you achieve this are insulation upgrades such roof and wall insulation upgrades, which are also grant aided under SEAI’s Home Energy Grants programme.

Good insulation and airtightness is needed to reduce draughts in the home and eliminate heat losses through open chimneys, which will affect the performance of your heat pump system.

You must engage an independent SEAI registered Technical Advisor before applying for the heat pump system grant. They will carry out a technical assessment and Building Energy Rating on the house before guiding you on the energy performance of the dwelling, particularly on the suitability of the dwelling for a heat pump system, based on the dwelling’s heat loss.

They will provide you with independent guidance on measures that may be necessary to ensure that the dwelling fabric heat loss is lowered to an acceptable level for a heat pump system to perform at its best.

A dwelling with poor insulation and single glazing could cost substantially more to upgrade to the necessary level than, say, a well-insulated dwelling with newer double glazing. The Technical Advisor can also help you understand the types of heat pump systems available and the options most suitable for your dwelling, before you talk in more depth to a heat pump contractor. It is worth discussing home upgrades with friends and family who may have already carried out the measures to give you a better insight into the advantages, improvements and possible issues they experienced when upgrading their own homes. You should visit an existing heat pump system before proceeding with the installation.

Note: To qualify for the Technical Assessment grant and the Heat Pump grant, you must carry out the recommended fabric upgrades to ensure your home meets the required heat loss indicator, thus ensuring your heat pump system performs efficiently and effectively. Failure to meet this requirement will result in both grants being declined.

Ensuring your home is heat pump ready

One of the requirements for a dwelling to qualify for a heat pump system grant is that the dwelling has low heat loss. This is to ensure your heat pump system performs well and your electricity bills are not too high. You can achieve this by insulating your home and/or by upgrading your windows. Note: SEAI also offers grants for home insulation.

Before you apply

Before applying for a heat pump system grant, you must engage an independent, SEAI Registered Technical Advisor. Your Technical Advisor will carry out a technical assessment of your home, and will advise you on what steps to take to make your home “heat pump ready”, i.e. to reduce the heat loss in your home.

They will provide you with independent guidance on measures necessary to ensure that the dwelling fabric heat loss is lowered to an acceptable level for a heat pump system to perform effectively and efficiently. The required heat loss level is expressed as a Heat Loss Indicator of 2 Watts/Kelvin/m2. In some cases, where upgrades may not be cost-optimal, a value of HLI up to 2.3 Watts/Kelvin/m2 can be accepted provided additional requirements are met. Full details of these requirements can be found in the SEAI Domestic Technical Standards and Specification and should be discussed with your Technical Advisor.

Grant for technical assessment

We offer a €200 grant towards the technical assessment of your home, with this grant only payable in conjunction with the heat pump system grant. To qualify for this funding you must choose your Technical Advisor from the list of SEAI registered Technical Advisors, and complete the heat pump system and any upgrades required according to the programme rules.

Please note that uninsulated homes built more than 30 years ago may require substantial and costly upgrades to qualify for a heat pump system grant.

Who can apply

All homeowners, including landlords, whose homes were built and occupied before 2011 can apply. This is defined as the date your electricity meter was installed. Note that this is different to other grant measures where the home must be built before 2006.

How to apply

Find out more about how you can apply for a home energy grant

Ready to apply? Start your application online


You must complete the works and submit the paperwork within 8 months from the date of the grant offer. You can find the expiry date in your offer letter.

Free upgrades for eligible homes

If your home was built and occupied before 2006 and you are in receipt of social welfare payments, you may be eligible for free energy efficiency improvements.