Is an air source heat pump worth it?

Technology is always advancing and with that if you can feel as if there is always something new on the market that is designed to save us money, make our lives easier and is better for the environment.

With all of this information constantly thrown at us it can become overwhelming and you end up not sure if this latest new home improvement is just a craze or if it really does what it says on the tin.

Air source heat pumps are sold to us as a way for us to heat our homes. Lower our energy bills and take some much needed strain off of our worlds finite resources. Are they really all they’re cracked up to be? Is it worth installing one in your home? 

Whether an air source heat pump is worth the large investment will be different for each household and will depend on what you are looking for. If you are hoping to become more sustainable or even just lower your energy bills slightly then it could be a great option.

What is an air source heat pump? 

An air source heat pump can provide us with heat for our homes and can also give us hot water.

An external unit is placed in your garden, normally against a wall and is connected to an internal unit that is typically smaller than a standard boiler. Heat from the air outside is absorbed as a liquid. This is then processed into a gas and heated further. This is then transferred to the heating and hot water circuits throughout your home. 

There are two main types of units. 

  • Air to Air

This model will only provide you with heat and requires a warm air circulation system to move the heated air around your home.

With this system you will not be able to receive hot water. 

  • Air to Water

This is the most popular model within the UK. The heated air is distributed via your wet central heating system. It is designed to produce a lower temperature of heat over a longer period of time. 

What are the advantages to an air source heat pump?

Lower carbon footprint

A heat pump can reduce your carbon footprint. Especially if you are switching from an electricity-based heating system. The main source of energy that a heat pump uses is air. 

Reduced energy bills

The savings you will make will be different for each household. If you are switching from gas then you will notice a saving on your gas bill. Although you will still be using electricity to run your heat pump system. 

Renewable Heat Incentive

As part of the Government’s promise to reach net zero emissions by 2050, they currently have the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. If you are able to take part in this scheme then you could receive quarterly payments for every kilowatt hour of renewable heat that you create. This is a way not only recoup some of your costs but to also earn a passive income. This scheme is only for those with an air to water model.

Heating and cooling

Some models will allow you the capabilities of using your system for cooling during the Summer months. Making it multi-purpose. 

No extra fuel

Apart from the electricity needed to run your system there is no other fuel such as wood, oil or coal that is needed. 

Easy installation

Installation typically takes around two days which is quicker than a ground source heat pump. The external unit will need space around it to ensure adequate air flow at all times. 

Low maintenance but long lifespan

Once the installation is over your machine is very low maintenance. Apart from a service every one to two years. Although it is advised to regularly check the air inlet grill to ensure that it is free from any leaves or other debris.

If your system is regularly serviced you can expect it to last for twenty years, if not longer. 

Solar energy

If you have solar energy capabilities within your home then you are able to use this to run your system rather than electricity making your home even more sustainable. 

What are the disadvantages? 

As with most things there are off course disadvantages

  • Lower heat supply

An air source heat pump will give lower temperatures. For optimum results it would be best to use with underfloor heating. If that is not an option then larger radiators may be needed. 

  • Extra costs

On top of the cost of the installation of your heat pump there may be some other costs to factor into the equation. 

  • Cost of installing underfloor heating or larger radiators. 
  • You may need to change your hot water cylinder to a heat pump compatible one. 
  • You may need to have work carried out on your garden first. The external unit requires adequate space around it. 


To obtain the full benefits from your heat pump a well insulated house is advised. Poor insulation will result in the heat escaping quicker than it is provided. Although a well insulated house is recommended for most heating systems. You will probably notice the lack of it more with a heat pump. 

Lower efficiency in colder weather

A heat pump will work with temperatures as low as minus fifteen degrees. However, as the temperature outside drops, so will the efficiency of your heat pump. 

Long payback period

The payback period is, how long it will take to recover the costs of your investment. With a heat pump you will not recoup your costs overnight.

The length of time will depend on what system you are switching from, the size of your home and whether you are able to take part in the renewable heat incentive scheme. 


Although semi-renewable is still better than non-renewable. It still must be noted that because your heat pump will rely on electricity to work it is not 100% renewable. To make your system completely renewable you will need to be able to run it using solar powered energy. 

So are air source heat pumps worth it? 

Whether an air source heat pump is worth the large investment will be different for each household and will depend on what you are looking for. If you are hoping to become more sustainable or even just lower your energy bills slightly then it could be a great option.

However, for those that want a quick return on their investment this may not be the best way to go.

Before deciding whether to switch to a heat pump. It is important to take into account the initial cost of the installation. Which can be between £9000-£11000, the cost of any work you need doing beforehand. Such as insulating your home or installing new radiators, and what exact benefits you are hoping to receive from a heat pump.

Only by weighing up all the pros and cons. Will you be able to decide if this is the right route for you and your home. 

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