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New Study Debunks Heat Pump Propaganda

Heat pumps will have to work harder in sub-zero temperatures, but are still two to three times more efficient than fossil fuels, according to a new report by Oxford University published on Monday in the Joule scientific journal. 

The study could put an end to an ongoing debate about whether heat pumps are a true energy efficiency solution in colder regions. 

Specifically, the study found that heat pumps use two-to-three times less energy than fossil fuels in temperatures as cold as -20 C.

The study claims to put paid to misinformation about heat pumps, which operate by absorbing heat from the outside air to create energy.  

"There has been a campaign spreading false information about heat pumps [including casting doubt on whether they work in cold weather]. People [in the UK] don't know much about heat pumps, so it's very easy to scare them by giving them wrong information," the Guardian cited Dr Jan Rosenow, co-author of the report, as saying. 

The Guardian's DeSmog investigative journalism outfit also recently exposed lobbyists representing the gas boiler industry as having attempted to delay a UK government measure that would increase the use of heat pumps. 

While the study concedes that additional analysis is still necessary, it notes that "Even though heat pump efficiency declines during the extreme cold and back-up heating may be required, air-source heat pumps can still provide significant energy system efficiency benefits on an instantaneous and annual basis compared with alternatives".

The study found that the heat pumps remain more efficient than fossil fuels even in sub-zero temperatures because soil temperatures do not change significantly between seasons, while ground-source heat pumps "do not need to expend energy on defrosting". 

By Charles Kennedy for

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Charles Kennedy

Charles is a writer for More


  • steve Clark - 2nd Oct 2023 at 1:51pm:
    I have a modern cold climate heat pump hat is 2 years old. Believe me at below -15c it starts to struggle to produce enough heat and I need to use the wood stove or freeze. Mine is rated to -22c but at that point it is in defrosting mode more than heating mode.
  • ss ggg - 12th Sep 2023 at 12:57pm:
    You switched from Air source heat pump to describing Ground source heat pump without making the distinction.
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