Heat pump costs: What should I expect?

Heat pumps are popular heat generators. After all, they allow energy from the air, water or earth to be used free of charge, thus contributing significantly to the realisation of Germany's climate goals. In addition, the purchase is rewarded with a high state subsidy. But what does a heat pump cost? We give you an overview.

    Table of contents

  • When is a heat pump recommended?
  • Costs for heat pumps depend on the type of heat pump
  • Operating costs as an important cost factor
  • Reduce heat pump costs with state subsidies

01. When is a heat pump recommended?

Due to constant further development and the high level of technical progress, heat pumps are now no longer only suitable for new buildings. Thanks to higher heating capacities and flow temperatures, environmentally friendly heating systems are now also very suitable for old and existing buildings.

It is important to consider the energy status of your house. A well-insulated façade as well as doors and windows often make a big difference in terms of heat pump efficiency and ultimately also affect the operating costs. Large-surface radiators, such as underfloor heating, provide ideal conditions, but normal - somewhat larger - radiators can also be used to heat the home well and efficiently with a heat pump.

A heat pump is also recommended if photovoltaics are already being used or a PV system is planned. The environmentally friendly electricity generated by solar power can then be used to operate the heat pump.

02. costs for heat pumps depend on the type of heat pump

When you buy a heat pump, you are using a heating system that uses ambient energy as a heat source. Either from the ambient air, groundwater or the ground. Since they are powered by electricity, the operating costs play a role in addition to the purchase and installation costs.

The type of heat pump is decisive for the costs of your heat pump. This is because while an air-source heat pump requires hardly any preparatory work, a ground-source heat pump, for example, may require extensive drilling and preliminary testing. The price range for heating systems with heat pumps is therefore very wide, as they differ primarily in terms of their development costs.

Important: If you want to use a geothermal heat pump with ground heat collectors and a ground probe, you must first clarify in advance whether such an installation is even possible at your location.

  • Costs for air-to-water heat pumps

The purchase and installation costs for an air source heat pump are relatively low. Overall, you should expect total costs between 27.000 and 40.000 euros. The price range results from the individual requirements (including user behaviour, and energy status of the house) for the heat pump. For example, we offer air-to-water heat pumps with output levels from 5 to 16 kW and thus cover a wide range of requirements in old buildings. If you choose the air-source heat pump from ciarra, the costs for the electrician, foundation builder and the complete all-around package from planning to maintenance are already included in this price.

Info: The Ciarra heat pump costs from 32.500 euros for an output of 12 kW. With a subsidy of up to 55%, you end up paying around 21.000 euros.

  • Costs for brine or water-to-water heat pumps

Geothermal heat pumps and groundwater heat pumps are more expensive to purchase due to the high installation costs. You should plan for between 40.000 and 50.000 euros. Depending on the soil and subsoil, the development costs can vary greatly again. By the way, you should allow about 8 months for the conversion work.

Important: Always bear in mind that heat pumps are subsidised by the state by up to 40%, which means that a large part of the purchase costs is paid back.

03. Operating costs as an important cost factor

For a single-family house, the electricity consumption of a heat pump is approx. 4.000 to 6.000 kWh. Based on the current electricity price of 40 cents per kWh (as of July 2022), this results in an annual consumption of 1.600 to 2.500 euros.

If you opt for the cheaper electricity tariff for heat pumps, you save 20 to 25% compared to standard household electricity. Thanks to the abolition of the EEG surcharge as of 1 July 2022, electricity costs were reduced once again. A family of four is expected to save 300 euros in electricity costs per year.

How to determine the operating costs for your heat pump

To determine the electricity consumption of a heat pump, the coefficient of performance (COP or SCOP/COP) can be set in relation to the electricity price.

Electricity price per kWh / coefficient of performance = cost per kWh heat

The higher the coefficient of performance, the more economically a heat pump can be operated.

This simple calculation also shows how the economic efficiency can be increased even further if, for example, the electricity is generated by a PV system.

Operating costs depend significantly on the coefficient of performance 

The coefficient of performance is an important performance indicator for heat pumps and quantifies their efficiency. To calculate it, the amount of heat generated is divided by the amount of electricity used.

Example: 20.000 kWh heat quantity / 5.000 kWh electricity = 4,0

The higher the coefficient of performance, the lower the heating costs because, simply put, more heat is obtained from electricity. For efficient heat pumps, this is between 3,0 und 4,5.

Important: In order to make use of the state heating subsidy according to the BEG, the calculated energy performance factor must be at least 2,7.

04. Reduce heat pump costs with state subsidies

The federal funding for efficient buildings (BEG) has been in effect since 2021. The corresponding funding guidelines were amended in summer 2022 and again in January 2023. A maximum subsidy of 40 per cent is possible for heat pumps. All subsidies for gas heating systems were already cancelled in the summer. The aim of the change was to distribute the scarcer funds available to more households and at the same time to give an impulse to become less dependent on gas.

The "seasonal space heating efficiency" (ETAs) is decisive for the promotion of the heat pump (in addition to the APC). It also provides information on the efficiency of the respective heat pump and must reach a minimum value to be considered eligible. You can find a BAFA list of eligible heat pumps here.

The technical prerequisite for receiving the state subsidy is the performance of a hydraulic balancing according to procedure B as well as the installation of a heat quantity and electricity meter so that the efficiency can be measured regularly. Funding is also possible if the heat pump is installed with another alternative energy generator such as solar thermal. Hybrid systems with gas heating are no longer subsidised; here, only the heat pump is subsidised at 25%.

All homeowners who renovate an old building to make it more energy efficient and in which the heating system has been in operation for at least two years can take advantage of the subsidy.

It is also important to note that the funding application must be received by BAFA before the specialist company is commissioned.

If these requirements are met, you have the following funding options:

  • 25% for the purchase of a new heat pump
  • 35% if the heat pump is exchanged for an old oil heating system
  • 35% if the heat pump is exchanged for an old gas heating system that is at least 20 years old
  • + 5 percent if the new heat pump is a brine-water or water-water heat pump OR the heat pump uses a natural refrigerant

Accordingly, you receive up to 35% subsidy for our air source heat pump. In addition, it meets all the efficiency requirements of the BEG to be considered eligible for subsidies.