UK heat pump noise: Will concerns shake government’s ambitions?

The government has launched a review of heat pumps over noise fears

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The government has launched a review of heat pumps due to concerns over potential noise disturbances, potentially jeopardising its target of installing 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has highlighted worries about cumulative noise impact on communities, despite individual heat pumps emitting a sound level comparable to that of a fridge or dishwasher.

Rebecca Pow Minister for Environmental Quality and Resilience at Defra told the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee last week: “While Defra is responsible for protecting the environment and this area, a lot of the levers are in other departments.

“A lot of them are conducting their own research. We highlight the issues to them, and a good example of that would be heat pumps and the Business Department. There is obviously a proviso in favour of those things from that department, but we have highlighted the issue of noise and now it has commissioned a piece of work and research on the impacts of the noise.”

Defra is investing £6 million in a noise-mapping project, gathering data on noise levels nationwide.

The Department for Business and Trade has commissioned research into noise impacts, following Defra’s concerns.

Heat pumps, which use compressed air to heat homes, can produce noise from the fan, motor, and air conditioner condenser unit, exacerbated during frosty weather.

The review aims to explore design improvements and positioning to mitigate noise and align planning regulations with technological advancements.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero expects the review to be completed by summer.

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