Air Source Heat Pumps: A Guide

Air source heat pumps, particularly air-to-water systems, have been warming households for decades. Converting energy sourced from the heat outside, transferring it air-to-air within the rooms of the home. Relying on an air source makes this heating system highly efficient, using less fuel and drawing exclusively from the surrounding air’s heat. There are two kinds of air-source heat pumps available; air-to-air and air-to-water.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Thermal energy, known as heat, surrounds our environment. Heat pumps take the idea of heat naturally flowing to a cold place and reverse it; when temperatures outside are colder heat pumps will take it to a warmer place. A refrigerant gas is created within the heat pump and when this increases so does the overall temperature. The heat pump uses electricity to compact the refrigerant in turn raising the pressure and converting heat into the home.

Heat pumps impressively continue operation in below-freezing temperatures, ensuring that your home is never without heating. They can operate down to temperatures of -15*C. What’s more, heat pumps can also provide cool air in the summer.

Smart devices can be used to control heat pumps, ensuring that warmth is just a finger press away and can be operated remotely – a helpful feature for people who are out of the house for most of the day.

How Efficient Are Heat Pumps?

Heat pumps generate more heat than the energy they use to run and can be four times more efficient than traditional gas boilers which use far more energy than the heat they generate. The amount of heat produced can be measured by the CoP or the Coefficient of Performance. For example, 2.0 CoP would produce two units of heat for each unit of electricity.

How Much Money Will A Heat Pump Save Me?

In the modern world, most people are prioritising their energy savings, keeping this thought at the forefront of their minds. Installing heat pumps can help remove some of the pressure from their energy bills and there are a few factors that can come into play when saving money with heat pumps;

  • The type of heat source being replaced.
  • Electricity tariff.
  • The type of heat pump installed.
  • Location and average temperature of the air and ground year-round.
  • Design of the current heating system e.g. oil or LPG boilers.
Further modifications to properties can also help towards energy prices;

The volume of heat energy transferred by electrical energy can change constantly throughout the year and can depend on the source temperature used, therefore when the temperature drops outside prices may rise slightly. Having said that, the amount of heat produced outweighs the electricity usage so running costs give peace of mind.

Gas boilers can be particularly more costly when owning a heat pump unless careful consideration has gone into the system’s design. A perfectly designed system reduces the temperature of heating water and this can include;

  • Large surface radiators spend less time increasing water temperature.
  • Underfloor heating also spends time increasing the water temperature
  • Running the heat system for a long duration

If the compressors in the heat pumps are exerting themselves through a poorly designed system, the more money it will cost to run by using more electricity. For example, small surface radiators will require a higher temperature to heat a room, therefore taking much longer overall and using more energy in turn.

What Support Is Available?

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme

If your property operates on old inefficient fossil fuel heating (oil, gas, electric), The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) can provide eligible properties with financial assistance in reducing energy bills and carbon footprint by installing a renewable energy heating system. This can include the installation of air-source heat pumps.

EC04 Scheme

A priority goal of the ECO4 scheme is to introduce energy-efficient measures in properties that are living in fuel poverty.

Is My Home Eligible for BUS or ECO4 Grant?

To be eligible in the UK, households must meet the criteria outlined below:

  • How your home is heated: homes without a mains gas supply. Normally these are properties that have been off-grid or have never been connected to the grid.
  • Personal circumstance: you or somebody living in the same property are receiving means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Income based Jobseekers allowance, Income related Employment & Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credits or Working Tax Credit. Depending on household income, those in receipt of Child Benefit can also qualify for the scheme.) Households with an income below 31,000 can also be eligible for support with ECO4 FLEX.
  • Further support: a mains gas supply could still make you eligible for support. Homes with non-condensing boilers could be able to receive a new combi-boiler as part of the grant.

Is Installation Easy?

The installation process can be a daunting operation for most people. Worries about damage to property and unsightly units can be off-putting.

Heat pumps can be a simple system to install for professional technicians. An air source heat pump system will adorn the exterior of a property where it will be perfectly stable and located where the airflow is best. Commonly, there is no need for external excavation meaning no damage to your home. Qualified technicians will install the heat pump system within the property, adapting it to the current radiators and underfloor heating meaning the work can be disruptive but it is assured that the property will be left how it is found.

The whole process can take up to two days to complete depending on the property. A small property may only take a day but for an older house that is bigger, it could take up to two days.

Why Now Is The Time To Install?

Right now in the UK, it has never been a better time to install a heat pump as the Government currently promises a 50% increase in heat pump grants that can see homes get £7,500 towards the installation of an air source heat pump system as part of The Boiler Upgrade Scheme. The introduction of this grant has since seen a significant increase in the applications with a lot of happy customers voicing their support for making the move to this renewable energy method.

Home » Energy Saving Home Improvements » Air Source Heat Pumps: A Guide
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