Air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps

Heat your home with energy absorbed from the air around you.

Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, or warm air convectors and hot water in your home.

An air source heat pump extracts heat from the outside air in the same way that a fridge extracts heat from its inside. It can get heat from the air even when the temperature is as low as -15° C. Heat pumps have some impact on the environment as they need electricity to run, but the heat they extract from the ground, air, or water is constantly being renewed naturally.

The benefits of air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps (also known as ASHPs):

  • could lower your fuel bills, especially if you are replacing conventional electric heating
  • could provide you with an income through the government ’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
  • could lower your home's carbon emissions, depending on which fuel you are replacing
  • don't need fuel deliveries
  • can heat your home and provide and hot water
  • need little maintenance – they're called ‘fit and forget’ technology
  • can be easier to install than a ground source heat pump, though efficiencies may be lower.

How do air source heat pumps work?

Heat from the air is absorbed at low temperature into a fluid. This fluid then passes through a compressor where its temperature is increased, and transfers its higher temperature heat to the heating and hot water circuits of the house.

Costs

Installing a typical system costs around £7,000 to £14,000. Running costs will vary depending on a number of factors – including the size of your home, and how well insulated it is, and what room temperatures you are aiming to achieve.

Planning permission

In England from 1st December 2011, domestic air source heat pump systems will be classed as Permitted Development provided that they comply with certain criteria, including:

  • there is no wind turbine at the property
  • the external unit is less than 0.6m in size
  • the unit is more than one metre from the edge of the householder's property
  • it is not on a pitched roof, or near the edge of a flat roof
  • it meets additional criteria if in a conservation area, World Heritage Site or similar.

This list is not comprehensive, contact your local planning office for full details.

Is an air source heat pump suitable for me?

To tell if an air source heat pump is right for you, there are a few key questions to consider:

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

    You may also want to consider ground source heat pumps, which use pipes buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground.

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