Air Source Heat Pumps Explained

Environmentally and financially, heat pumps are widely considered to be one of most efficient and cost-effective heating systems available. They do not burn fossil fuels and require only electricity to operate, extracting heat from the air outside your property and transferring it into your home. 

Heat pumps are a growing modern technology, although they have been in widespread use in Scandinavian countries for years, where winter temperatures frequently drop below freezing.

Don’t just take our word for it. Watch George Clark, architect and presenter of Amazing Spaces, ask the important questions about heat pumps:

Are you interested in an air source heat pump for your property? Simply fill out our quick and easy form below and a member of our renewables team will get in touch to discuss your requirements and provide you with a free estimate for the work.

How Air Source Heat Pumps work

down-arrow  Using the same technology as your fridge, heat pumps take heat from the air outside the property and passes it over a refrigerant fluid.

down-arrow  The fluid absorbs all the heat from the air, evaporating into a gas before being passed through a compressor, where the temperature is increased drastically.

down-arrow  Now the gas is driven into the property, releasing it’s heat to the air or hot water system of the house.

down-arrow  The now cool gas returns to the pump, condensing to a fluid, ready to absorb more heat and deliver it back to your home.

What are the benefits?

down-arrow   High efficiency ratings

Currently the most cost-effective form of electric heating, with average efficiencies of 200% to 400% – this means that for every unit of electricity used, 2 to 4 units of heat are generated. It is one of the cheapest available ways to heat your property, and is particularly efficient during the summer months.

down-arrow   Financial benefits

Depending on your existing heating system, a heat pump will most likely save money on your energy bills.

Existing System TypeFuel Bill Saving (/year)RHI payments (/year)CO2 (kg/year)
Old (G-rated) Gas boiler
New (A-rated) Gas boiler
£560 – £650
Up to £110
£1,341 - £1,586Up to 4,820
Up to 2,320
Old electric storage heaters
New electric storage heaters
£1,065 - £1,315

£695 - £815
£1,341 - £1,586Up to 5,000

Up to 3,500
Old (G-rated) oil boiler
New (A-rated) oil boiler
£930 - £1,100
£285 - £330
£1,341 - £1,586Up to 7,100
Up to 3,600
Old (G-rated) LPG boiler
New (A-rated) LPG boiler
£1,365 - £1,610
£565 - £660
£1,341 - £1,586Up to 5,850
Up to 2,930
Coal£540 - £665£1,341 - £1,586Up to 9,220

From the Energy Saving Trust ; RHI Air Source Heat Pump payments based on 20,000 kWh supply at 10.71p/kWh (see Ofgem RHI calculator for estimated payments for your home)  

The initial installation costs for an air source heat pump system can be daunting at between £7,000 – £10,000. But with the governments Renewable Heat Incentive paying up to £15,000 over 7 years, among other incentives for air source heat pumps (such as ECO grant funding for properties without existing central heating), plus the energy savings from the system itself, it can quickly become a very profitable way to heat your home.

down-arrow   Lower your carbon footprint

Heat pumps don’t use any kind of combustion to generate heat, and there are no carbon emissions from the operation of a heat pump system. They operate using a small amount of electricity. Depending on where you source your electricity, a heat pump can make you completely carbon neutral on your heating, if you have photovoltaic solar panels or buy your electricity from renewable sources. Heat pump systems now use an ozone-safe refrigerant, meaning it does not deplete the ozone layer if it is released.

Domestic heating makes up 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions output, with each household emitting around 2 tonnes of carbon every year. Air source heat pumps are a great way for each of us play our part to reduce carbon emissions and future proof our country against the dangers of climate change.  

down-arrow   Low maintenance, long life

Air source heat pumps are relatively low maintenance and have a longer average lifetime than a traditional boiler. As they have some moving parts, they do require attention from time to time – checking the air ducts for leaves, dust or anything that can obstruct the air intake of the system. However, they may only require a professional service every 2 or 3 years and can last upwards of 20 years with proper care.

down-arrow   Fuel stability

There is ever-increasing instability across the world over the supply of fossil fuels. As it stands, the UK produces less than 50% of its natural gas demand, with much of the rest being imported from Europe. Changing political circumstances and international geopolitical events can have a strong impact on the supply and price of natural gas to the UK. An electrically powered heat pump means independence from rising gas prices and the ability to drive the country towards an energy independent and sustainable future.

Are any grants available?

The Renewable Heat Incentive

Air source heat pumps qualify for the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), a scheme set up to encourage the uptake of renewable heat technologies in the UK. The scheme provides financial support to the owner of the system for 7 years, with quarterly payments at 10.71p/kWh of eligible energy (heat produced by the heat pump, or other qualifying system). An air source heat pump system could earn up to £15,000 over 7 years through the RHI.
Find out more about the RHI from Ofgem

Metering and Monitoring Service Package

The Metering and Monitoring Service Package (MMSP) is a useful system which effectively monitors the performance and efficiency of your heat pump, logging data every 2 minutes. The system can replace metering requirements for the RHI scheme. Successful MMSP applications will receive financial support for the installation of £805, plus another £115 for the duration of the RHI payments.
Find out more about MMSP from Ofgem

What’s the catch? 

Although there are many benefits, a heat pump system is not for everyone. 

down-arrow   Winter efficiency

Lower efficiency in winter. Because they draw heat from the outside air, heat pumps are very efficient in the summer, but less so during the winter when the air outside is cold. The system will still operate effectively, but will use more electricity to overcome the colder air. 

down-arrow   Heat distribution

Heat pumps deliver less immediate heat than a traditional boiler. This means that an air source heat pump will perform much better with larger radiators or underfloor heating, which allow the heat to be effectively dissipated into your home. 

down-arrow   Insulation

A poorly insulated home loses heat quickly. Your home must be well insulated to reap the benefits of an air source heat pump, because it delivers heat slower than a traditional boiler. Without insulation your heat pump will struggle to get up to the right temperature. 

down-arrow   Switching from mains gas

Smaller savings when switching from mains gas. At the moment, electricity costs more than gas. Although heat pumps are more efficient, the actual cost savings on energy bills will be much smaller when switching from mains gas as opposed to oil or another electric heating system. This is likely to change in the future as the cost of fossil fuel inevitably rises. 

How much do they cost?

The cost of an air source heat pump varies from house to house – generally speaking, it can be between £7,000 and £11,000 – but it depends on your property’s requirements. If you want to find out how much a heat pump would cost for your property, simply fill out our free estimate tool below. 

For more information about air source heat pumps get in touch with Wise Energy today on 0800 038 2820 or
fill out our easy form below to obtain a free estimate. 

You can also take a look at our free brochure here for a breakdown on air source heat pumps


Free Estimate Tool

Get a free air source heat pump estimate for your home – it only takes a couple of minutes. A member of our Renewables team will calculate the estimated cost of installing an air source heat pump to your property, and get in touch shortly to discuss it with you. 

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