To transition to a lower carbon future, we all need to move away from fossil fuel heating. The government has targets for 60% of UK homes to install a heat pump as part of their strategy to reach net zero by 2050. But lots of households are held back by the belief that a heat pump wouldn’t work well in their property. 

Our partners, Mitchell & Dickinson are specialists in making period homes warmer. In this article, they share everything you need to know to get your period property ready for a heat pump.

Are period properties hard to heat?

Over 20% of British homeowners live in a period property. Older properties tend to be harder to keep warm, quickly losing heat through the roof, walls and single-glazed windows. Owners will find they need to run their boilers throughout the day and night to stay warm, leading to high energy bills and lack of faith that a heat pump would be able to adequately heat their homes either.

Can old properties get an air source heat pump?

Thankfully, insulation, draughtproofing and secondary glazing can be installed in period properties – even if they are listed.

These measures will help them to retain their heat, dramatically reduce energy costs, and get them ready for an efficient, low carbon heat pump.

What insulation can be installed in period homes?

One of the best ways to prevent heat loss in a period home is to insulate it. The easiest and most cost-effective places to start are with loft insulation, secondary glazing and draught proofing. Wall insulation for period homes can be more expensive, due to them mostly being constructed with solid walls, but it can be something to look into once other areas are rectified. 

Our partners, Mitchell & Dickinson, use eco-friendly sheep’s wool to insulate floors and lofts. This natural material has a 60-year lifespan, is produced locally and uses little energy to manufacture. Insulation will improve your EPC rating, saving you money on your energy bills and improving your home’s saleability too.

You may need to insulate an older or period property before getting a heat pump.

How can you reduce heat loss through single glazed windows?

secondary glazing can be a good way to get your period home ready for a heat pump

Windows in period homes are an important feature that should be preserved to retain the character of the property. But they can be a huge source of heat loss and draughts, which is why our partners, Mitchell & Dickinson invented secondary-glazing solution, CosyGlazing.

Invisible from the outside and conforming to conservation requirements for Grade 1 and 2 listed buildings, CosyGlazing is a lightweight plexiglass that’s installed using a high-tech
magnetic tape, colour matched to your property.

Plexiglass is seven times more effective as an insulator than glass, and this solution will reduce heat loss through period windows by 70%.

Do I have to insulate my period home before getting a heat pump?

Insulating your home will help to keep it warmer and bring down your energy costs, whether it is heated by a boiler or a heat pump.

For properties built in the last 30 years, people can often be surprised to find out that the level of insulation they already have is sufficient for a well-performing heat pump.

However, as heat loss in period and listed properties can be so high, it makes sense to install insulation to your windows, floors and lofts before getting a heat pump, to ensure it is appropriately sized for your energy needs.

Domestic heat pumps range from 4kW up to 16kW. Generally speaking, well insulated or smaller homes will need a smaller heat pump, and lesser insulated or larger homes will need a larger, more powerful heat pump.

Good Energy conduct bespoke surveys to calculate your property’s heat loss, and to advise you on the size of heat pump and any additional radiators you will need to keep your home warm and comfortable.

“While it’s true that a heat pump is most efficient if your home is well insulated, the same is true for any heating system.”

Find out what happens in a heat pump survey

Will I need planning permission to get a heat pump?

Most homeowners will not need to get planning permission to get a heat pump installed. However, if you live in a listed property or in a conservation area, you will need to get listed building consent to install a heat pump.

Understanding and advice around heat pumps in historic properties is changing. In July 2024, Historic England updated their guidance to encourage the installation of heat pumps on heritage properties for the first time. This is a significant intervention, with local councils often referring to their advice when considering planning applications. Good Energy can assist you with finding the evidence you need to make your application successful.

So, do heat pumps work in period homes?

heat pumps for period homes

According to the Energy Saving Trust and Energy Systems Catapult, heat pumps are well suited to all property types, including older properties.

In an extensive study they found that while it can be more of a challenge to design a heat pump system for older homes (pre 1945), those challenges can be overcome – and they have over 150 examples of well-performing heat pumps in period properties to prove it.

Do you have a period property that you wish was warmer and more efficient?

Mitchell & Dickinson work across the South of England to insulate period and listed properties with a hand crafted, bespoke approach. For the past 14 years, they’ve been installing their advanced window and door insulation,
CosyGlazing – a virtually invisible double glazing solution that improves thermal efficiency but retains the character of period homes.

Contact Mitchell and Dickinson today for a free survey of your property, and quote GE24 for £500 off insulation installation.