Everything you need to know about air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps are a more environmentally-friendly way to what your home. They require some electricity to run but this will be offset by not using gas and from taking heat from a renewable source. Air source heat pumps heat radiators and water a little bit slower than traditional boilers so radiators won’t feel as hot to the touch. For this reason, it’s important that when choosing this method of heating the home is well-insulated and draught proof. To the right is an example of an air source heat pump provided by BuildIt.

Table of Contents

1. How do air source heat pumps work?

2. Air source heat pumps advantages and disadvantages

3. How much do air source heat pumps cost?

How do air source heat pumps work?

Air source heat pumps are perfect for well-insulated and carbon-conscious homes. This method of heating works by absorbing heat from the air outside, like the way that household fridges extract heat from inside of it. You don’t have to live in a tropical climate to benefit from an air source heat pump as they can extract warmth from air as cold as -15°C.

The heat can be used to heat radiators, warm air convectors, water and underfloor heating in the home. The air source heat pump takes any heat from the air from its position outside of a building and then boosts how hot this is using a heat pump. As mentioned above, a small amount of electricity is used to work the heat pump, but it produces more heat than it uses. The image below from Which? shows how an air source heat pump works.


Air source heat pumps advantages

Air source heat pumps have many advantages, including the fact that they offer low carbon emissions and lower fuel bills. The government offers a renewable heat incentive scheme too which could see you earn money from choosing an air source heat pump. Other advantages include:

  • Minimal maintenance (plus most companies offer a warranty)
  • A 20-year minimum life expectancy
  • Easy to retrofit as they just sit in the garden of a property
  • In a 4-bed detached house which uses an old gas boiler, an air source heat pump could save you up to £465 a year


Air source heat pumps disadvantages

Although this form of renewable heating is very low carbon, you do still need some electricity to run the heat pump which means it isn’t zero carbon. This can however be achieved by using solar panels to generate the electricity. Other disadvantages include:

  • Homes must be highly insulated and draught proof as air source heat pumps emit lower temperatures of heat over longer (if they aren’t well-insulated this heat will leak out before the home has a chance to warm)
  • These types of heater are less efficient in winter as rooms take longer to heat
  • Air source heat pumps can be noisy but good insulation and clever installation location will offset a lot of this noise

How much do air source heat pumps cost?epc-certificate

Air source heat pumps cost between £3,000 and £11,000 depending on a range of factors. These factors include property size and the heating requirements of the property. If, for example, the air source heat pump is being used for hot water, central heating and underfloor heating, then you’ll need a more efficient and larger-scale product. If the air source heat pump is just being used for hot water and central heating, a less expensive product will suffice.

It’s worth noting that it’s important to check the efficiency and the cost of your current heating system before upgrading to an air source heat pump. Unless the decision is purely environmental, replacing an A-rated gas boiler for example will cost you extra over the year.

For more information on air source heat pumps we’d recommend contacting the Energy Saving Trust (EST) as they are best placed to offer your their advice on whether your well-insulated home is suited to an air source heat pump. 

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