Hybrid Heating Systems – What Are They And How Do They Work?

James Elston
Written by James Elston
Updated on 21st September 2023
Posted on 20th September 2023
Topic: heat pumps
Hybrid Heating Systems – What Are They And How Do They Work
boiler for hybrid heating systems

What is a hybrid heating system with boilers, heat pumps or solar panels?

We all want to play our part in reducing carbon emissions but we don’t want to compromise on heating our homes, so what’s the solution? The answer is a hybrid heating system.

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You can continue to heat your home in the same way you always have, however having a hybrid system is energy efficient and will reduce your energy bills dramatically even with a new boiler, therefore hybrid heat pumps could be the solution if hydrogen never takes off as a mixture of heat pump technology and gas boiler heat combined.

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    Hybrid heating system overview

    heat pump for hybrid heating system

    Installing a hybrid heat pump enables you to get the heat for your home from natural sources including the air, the sun or even under the ground so the heat is sourced naturally meaning your hybrid system is good for the environment and your wallet.

    Here we are going to look at what a hybrid system is, the different kinds, how much installation costs, and the benefits of having a hybrid heat pump and a boiler replacement.

    So if you want to do your bit for the planet whilst ensuring your bills stay low, read on or check out our best heat pump brands if you are strongly considering this option.

    What is a hybrid heating system?

    Hybrid means something made up of two different elements and when it comes to your central heating, a hybrid system involves the combination of a traditional gas or oil boiler with a ground or air source heat pump or solar panels.

    solar panels

    It is a more efficient home heating system. Hybrid heating systems are known as renewable heating systems as they will alternate between the ground or air source heat pump/solar panels or the boiler, depending on which is more efficient at the time.

    The two systems work side by side heating your home efficiently by sourcing energy for free. And if you decide to install a heat pump, you will be eligible for the Government scheme called the Renewable Heat Incentive.

    This is designed to encourage property owners to think about changing to more renewable heating systems.

    Your hybrid system needs to be installed by an MCS certified installer and then you will need to fit metering, either metering for performance or metering for payment. This will depend on the type of system you choose.

    All new heat pumps must install metering for performance as standard. You don’t need to install metering if you opt for solar panels. You are then ready to apply to the RHI scheme.

    The RHI will then use your information to calculate annual payments which you receive as a financial support incentive to change to a greener way of heating your home. Each year you have to fill out a declaration so your payments can be worked out.

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    How do hybrid heating systems work?

    A hybrid heating system works by the low-temperature ground or air source pump or solar panels meeting the heat demand in your home. When it is unable to create enough heat, your gas or oil boiler will take over.

    system boilers

    The two systems work in tandem, with you only needing your boiler when the temperature drops significantly outside.

    The heat pump will either collect heat from under the ground or in the air and convert it into heat for your home heating system. It collects the energy for free so is environmentally friendly. You will use your boiler only as a backup for the winter months.

    With hybrid heat pump systems, the reduction in boiler use is not only good for the planet, but it is also good for your monthly bills as they will reduce dramatically.

    It also has better energy efficiency as a heating solution because your source pump runs at low temperatures. It will ultimately reduce your carbon footprint and help to move away from using fossil fuels.

    It will also help to reduce your monthly outgoings as the prices of fossil fuels can fluctuate. A typical air-source pump will operate at 40 degrees Celsius compared to your existing boiler temperature of 65 degrees Celsius.

    What are the different types of hybrid heating systems?

    There are two different hybrid options for a renewable heating system, either the heat pump or a set of solar panels. There are different options when it comes to the pump you choose too.

    You can either choose a ground source heat pump or an air source heat pump. Both work in similar ways but installation is very different as is the initial outlay.

    Heat pumps with a boiler

    hydrogen ready boiler for hybrid heating systems

    If you choose to have a hybrid heating system with an air source heat pump, you must take into consideration the initial outlay and the space you have on your property.

    Ground source heat pumps

    This ground source heat pump system gets its heat from under the ground. Special trenches are dug in the ground to house the pump’s inner workings. The pump absorbs the heat from the surface soil and rocks in the ground. A heat exchanger then transfers the heat into the property for you to use as hot water to heat your home.


    • Energy-efficient.
    • Included in the Renewable Heat Incentive.
    • Quite simple to install if you have space to dig a trench on your property.
    • Easy to maintain.


    • Need the space for the hole or trench to be dug.
    • Very expensive to install.


    £10,000 to £18,000 for ground source heat pump installation costs.

    Air source heat pumps

    The air source heat pump system gets heat from the air. It relies on a fan that needs to be installed on the side of your property. Heat is extracted from the air outside and distributed into your home heating system for you to heat your home.


    • Energy-efficient.
    • Included in the Renewable Heat Incentive.
    • Easy to install.
    • Less costly than a ground source heat pump.


    • Need space on the side of your property to install the fan unit.
    • Quite expensive to install.
    • Less efficient in cooler climates.


    £6000 to £8000 for air source heat pump installation cost.

    Solar thermal and a boiler

    Solar thermal panels harness energy from the sun. The liquid that runs through each panel heats up and reaches your hot water cylinder via a heat exchanger coil. Solar thermal panels are a space-saving version of regular solar panels and can be up to 70% more efficient than regular solar panels.


    • Energy-efficient.
    • Included in the Renewable Heat Incentive.
    • They can collect heat even on cloudy days.
    • Relatively low installation cost.
    • Can last up to 25 years.


    • Factors such as your geographical location or the tilt of your roof will affect how much hot water your system produces.
    • They don’t work at night, reducing the amount of hot water production.


    £3000 to £6000 installation cost.

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    How long does it take to install a hybrid heating system?

    Installing a hybrid system can take anywhere from 2 to 5 days depending on which kind you are having and your property limitations if any. This will also depend if boiler installation is included too.

    If you are having an air source heat pump fitted you will need a space on the side of your outside wall to have the fan fitted. These can be quite large so space will need to be taken into consideration.

    However, if you are having a ground source heat pump fitted you will need space in the grounds of your property to have the trench dug for the boiler’s inner coils. This can take longer than installing the fan and so the set-up cost will be more.

    Always remember if you are having a gas boiler installed aswell as a heat pump you need to use a Gas Safe registered heating engineer

    What is the typical lifespan of a hybrid heating system?

    The best combi boiler should have a lifespan of around 10 to 15 years if well serviced. With a hybrid system, the introduction of a new system that will perform most of the heating will mean your boiler will last longer. A hybrid system could last up to 20 years especially if you install a hydrogen ready boiler that can run on hydrogen gas as a fuel.

    Are hybrid heating systems easy to maintain?

    Your boiler will still need to be serviced annually to keep it running efficiently. However, your hybrid heat pump system will only need looking at every 3 to 5 years making it as easy to maintain as your existing boiler, but with the benefits of being more energy-efficient.

    Take a look at two of the top heat pump brands that we have reviewed in our Vaillant heat pump cost guide and our Daikin heat pump price review.

    How much does it cost to install a hybrid heating system?

    Prices vary depending on the system you choose; this is because both the air source heat pump and the ground source heat pump need to be fitted in different ways. If you are having a ground pump fitted, it will be more expensive because of the extra cost of the digging.

    Air source heat pumps will cost between £6000 to £8000 to install, ground source heat pumps will set you back between £10000 to £18000 to install. Solar thermal panels will cost around £3000 to £6000 to have fitted.

    If you want to spread the cost of a new boiler to help with installing a hybrid system, you can get a new boiler on finance with Boiler Central and get accepted in a matter of minutes online.

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    Is a hybrid heating system the right option for you?

    If you are looking to go green then the hybrid choice of renewable heating systems could be the perfect option for you. If your old boiler needs replacing soon, hybrid heat pump installation with a green boiler is a great way to boost the energy-saving aspect of your home’s heating system.

    It is initially quite expensive but the benefits outweigh this cost when you look at the amount you will be able to save on your monthly bills.


    Are hybrid heating systems worth it?

    Installing a hybrid heat pump will initially be an expensive investment. However, that’s exactly what it is, an investment. It is predicted that your payments will be reduced by 30 to 50% which is a huge saving on your monthly bills.

    Hybrid heat pumps are easy to maintain and in some cases, they are ‘fit and forget’. It is estimated that your system will pay for itself in 3 to 5 years so it is good value for money too. It is a great choice for the environment too so you know you are doing your bit for the planet.

    Your home will continue to be heated in the same way it always has been, it will just cost you less to do so!

    Can a hybrid heating system reduce my energy bill?

    The simple answer is yes. Your monthly bills will go down by up to 50% meaning a huge saving for you. Your heating won’t be compromised but you will pay less.

    How efficient is a hybrid heating system?

    Hybrid heat pumps are an incredibly efficient way to heat your home. You will still have your old gas or oil boiler, however, you will combine this with either ground or air source heat pumps or solar panels.

    These hybrid heat pumps source your heat naturally and for those colder months where perhaps it struggles to fulfil your heating needs, your boiler will kick in. It’ll support the heat pump by taking over temporarily.

    Hybrid heat pumps run at much lower temperatures compared to your old boiler system so are very energy efficient.

    Can I use a hybrid heat pump system all year round?

    An air or ground source heat pump will work for most of the year. It takes heat from the air or underground and transfers it into your home. Due to our climate being changeable, when the outside temperature drops, your boiler will take over.

    They work side by side but don’t run at the same time. This type of heating will automatically switch from one system to the other meaning you don’t need to worry about your heating being affected.

    If you decide to fit solar panels the same applies. Whilst solar panels take the heat from the sun they can also work on cloudy days. However, again when it is winter, the sun is in the sky for less time each day as the days get shorter, so this is when your boiler will step in.

    Your hybrid system will keep your home heated all year round as the two systems work together.

    Hybrid heat pump and boiler system conclusion

    If you need a new hydrogen ready combi boiler, want to lower your energy bills or are just looking to try and reduce your carbon footprint and find a more renewable solution, a hybrid heat pump system is the solution.

    It essentially enables you to source free energy and dramatically reduce your heating running costs. You will also be able to benefit from annual payments via the RHI scheme meaning it is a win-win.

    So, go green and save money with a hybrid heating system.

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    Written by
    James Elston
    James Elston Director Of Boiler Central
    Posted on: 20th September 2023
    Topic: heat pumps

    James Elston is our resident boiler replacement and heating expert here at Boiler Central. With over 20 years experience in the boiler installation industry, James ensures that he knows everything there is about our Gas Safe boiler installations, energy saving and home heating solutions. This can be from simply procuring the latest best combi boilers, to reviewing and ensuring that Boiler Central maintains the highest standards across our boiler installation company.

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