Can Heat Pumps Be Used In Flats?

With the popularity of heat pumps climbing in the UK, many residents are switching to this eco-friendly and efficient heating system.

Although homeowners are usually free to install a pump at their discretion, most flat dwellers are left wondering if heat pumps can also be used in flats. As a result, the question looms of what type of heat pump is allowed to be installed in an apartment block.

Luckily, we've done the research on which pumps you can use in your flat and the advantages of installing a heat pump, so you don't have to. Our short guide will give you a rundown of all the details you need to know before shelling out for a new heat pump unit. If you need any basic information on how heat pumps work before diving into this article, we've got that information, too.

Can air source heat pumps be used in flats?

An air source heat pump is a heating system that uses outside air to generate domestic hot water and indoor heating. Because an air source heat pump needs access to natural airflow from outside, the unit must be installed in an outdoor space.

While some apartment buildings have sufficient space for installation, air source heat pumps for flats are less popular than other heating systems. Instead, an air source heat pump is more commonly used for other property types like freestanding or semi-detached homes.

Flats with an air source heat pump installed generally require smaller units than those used for houses. While this results in less heat generation, this is balanced out by the fact that flats generally have less indoor space. So the air source heat pump heating system is still incredibly efficient for warming an apartment - provided they have good insulation.

It's important to note that air source heat pumps are considered a permitted development, so you won't need to apply for installation permission. However, this is only true if you are the property owner. Additionally, you may still need to consult the rules and regulations of your building if you live in an apartment block.

If you are a tenant, you can contact your landlord and ask about installation of an air source heat pump.

Can ground source heat pumps be used in flats?

Ground source heat pump diagram

Ground source heat pumps work by circulating liquid refrigerant through a network of underground pipes. The natural heat from the ground is transferred to the liquid, which is used in a heat exchanger to generate heat for radiators, hot water, and underfloor heating systems.

A ground source heat pump is the ideal heating system for flats because of its cost and energy efficiency. They can also be integrated with existing heating systems like boilers or radiators in older apartment buildings.

To use a ground source heat pump in a flat, the building must have existing infrastructure in place. Without it, installation cannot be undertaken in an apartment. Like any other heat pump system, a ground source heat pump is considered a permitted development for property owners.

These pumps are suitable for apartment living because each resident has access to their own unit and is billed according to their electricity usage. Despite being a shared-source heat pump system, residents can also monitor their usage and connect their units to their own electricity supply.

For buildings with good insulation, there are few heat loss concerns. A ground source heat pump system also has little to no service requirements and doesn't use gas.

Pros and cons of using heat pumps in flats


Low running cost

One of the main benefits of a heat pump is its energy efficiency. Because ground and air source heat pumps use natural elements to produce heat, there is no material cost involved for indoor heating.

This results in significant cost savings as residents only need to pay for the electricity to run the heat pump. Additionally, standard boilers are more expensive to run as they require more energy to heat a home.

In flats, the heating system can be used by all the building residents with a heat pump unit installed. Although the installation fee may be costly, the extremely low running costs make it cheaper in the long run.

Lower energy bills

Having a heat pump in a flat is more cost-effective than other forms of indoor heating. This is particularly true for ground source heat pumps which can be used in conjunction with existing radiators and central heating infrastructure.

A heat pump typically uses less paid energy to run. In fact, a ground heat pump can generate up to four times more heat than the electricity it uses. This helps to keep electricity bills low.

In apartment blocks, installing a heat pump translates into maximum efficiency for residents. It lowers energy bills by a substantial amount. And, unlike district systems, usage is monitored and billed individually.

The rise in gas prices over recent years has also increased the demand for cheaper alternative heating systems. If prices continue to rise, installing a heat pump may become more feasible for apartment buildings due to its lower overall cost.


Although an air source heat pump system is better for a more spacious property type, heat pump units are generally more versatile than other heating sources. This is because:

They can be used for almost any building

  • They don't take up much space

  • They are integrative with solar panels, existing radiators, and underfloor heating

  • They can be used for hot water, heating and cooling


    More and more eco-conscious residents are opting for a heat pump over standard heating methods. A heat pump has low carbon emissions because it uses natural heat sources rather than gas or electricity to generate warmth. As a domino effect, this leads to lower running and energy costs.

    Heat pumps are also better for the environment because they use clean, renewable, and sustainable energy sources. Ground heat pumps use heat trapped underground that is transferred into the home's heating system, while air source heat pumps use outside air.


    Heat pump installations are expensive

    Purchasing and installing a heat pump comes at a cost. The units alone carry a hefty price tag without the additional installation fees. Still, when you consider the reduction in running and energy costs, a heat pump pays for itself in no time at all!

    After around ten years, you should see a return on your investment. Particularly with the continuous rise of utility prices.

    Of course, if you're looking to make the change and install a heat pump in your flat, you'll want to check out PlumbNation's top-quality heat pumps. We've got a heat pump to suit any budget.

    Flats are limited in the type of heat pumps available

    Flats often have limited space. And, if your flat isn't on the ground floor, outdoor space is in even shorter supply. For flats with balconies and terraces, an air source heat pump is a good choice. However, this can limit your options when selecting a unit.

    You'll also need to consider the noise levels and rules and regulations of your building. Some units come with noise-dampening features, although this typically drives up the price.

    Another consideration you'll need to take into account is how efficient the unit will be. Smaller units work well for smaller flats, but bigger units use more energy than is necessary.

    Ground source heat pumps require existing infrastructure

    Some apartment buildings come with pre-existing infrastructure to install a heat pump. Without it, ground source heat pumps can't be used in your flat.

    Using a ground source heat pump requires underground piping to be laid. The system works by circulating refrigerant liquid through the piping circuit to draw heat from the ground. This heat is then transferred to the indoor unit.

    This limits your choice of heat pump if your building lacks the framework to support it.

    Top quality heating supplies at PlumbNation

    Whether you're looking to install a heat pump, get a new boiler or are interested in making your home more energy efficient - PlumbNation is the place to be. We stock hundreds of top quality heating and bathroom supplies at affordable prices.

    What's more, our helpful team of dedicated professionals are on hand to help with any queries you may have.


    Air source heat pump faqs

    Where do you install a heat pump for a flat?

    Most heat pumps have indoor and outdoor units. The indoor unit allows you to control the system, while the outdoor unit acts as a conduit. In flats, the outdoor unit will need to be placed on an external wall, balcony, or terrace. This is provided there is adequate space to place the unit.

    The unit will need additional space to allow for airflow, and you may need to consider the amount of noise it makes. Some apartment buildings have regulations for noise control.

    When shouldn't you use a heat pump?

    Because you can use a heat pump for heating and cooling, it can be used year-round. However, heat pumps are less efficient in lower temperatures. At temperatures of below 4 degrees Celsius, a heat pump will start to consume more energy - although it will still be functional.

    Is it cheaper to keep your heat pump running all day?

    Heat pumps are notoriously cheaper than their heat system counterparts. But even though they are cost and energy-efficient, you shouldn't leave your unit running all day. This will lead to wasted energy and a higher utility bill. It's best to ensure your heat pump is switched off when you aren't using it.