Should I get an air source heat pump?

Posted 11 September 2015 by Keith Osborne

Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air.

Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air, which is then used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, or warm air convectors and hot water in your home. But should you get one? Here we share some tips from the Energy Saving Trust

Benefits

  • Lower fuel bills
  • Potential income through the UK government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
  • Lower home carbon emissions
  • Can heat your home as well as your water
  • Minimal maintenance required
  • Easier to install than a ground source heat pump.

Heat pumps deliver heat at lower temperatures over much longer periods. During the winter they may need to be on constantly to heat your home efficiently. You will also notice that radiators won't feel as hot to the touch as they might do when you are using a gas or oil boiler.

Should I get one?

  • Do you have somewhere to put it? 

You'll need a place outside your home where a unit can be fitted to a wall or placed on the ground. It will need plenty of space around it to get a good flow of air. A sunny wall is ideal.

  • Is your home well insulated? 

Since air source heat pumps work best when producing heat at a lower temperature than traditional boilers, it's essential that your home is insulated and draught-proofed well for the heating system to be effective.

  • What fuel will you be replacing? 

The system will pay for itself much more quickly if it's replacing an electricity or coal heating system.

  • What type of heating system will you use? 

Air source heat pumps can perform better with underfloor heating systems or warm air heating than with radiator-based systems because of the lower water temperatures required.

  • Is the system intended for a new development?

Combining the installation with other building work can reduce the cost of installing the system.

Costs

Installing a typical system can cost anything from £7,000 to £11,000, with running costs dependent on including the size of your home, how well insulated it is and the temperatures you are aiming to achieve.

Savings

  • Heat distribution system

Underfloor heating is more efficient than radiators because the water doesn’t need to be so hot. If underfloor heating isn’t possible, use the largest radiators you can.

  • Fuel costs

You will still have to pay fuel bills with a heat pump because it is powered by electricity, but you will save on the fuel you are replacing.

  • Your old heating system

If your old heating system was inefficient, you are more likely to see lower running costs with a new heat pump.

  • Water heating

If the heat pump is providing hot water then this could limit the overall efficiency. You might want to consider solar water heating to provide hot water in the summer and help keep your heat pump efficiency up.

  • Using controls

You will probably need to set the heating to come on for longer hours, but you might be able to set the thermostat lower and still feel comfortable. Your installer should explain to you how to control the system so you can use it most effectively.

Financial support

You may be eligible to receive payments for the heat you generate using a heat pump through the UK Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)


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