What is an air source heat pump?

More people are looking towards renewable technology for many of the functions within their home.

Air source heat pumps are becoming popular. Helping people to heat their homes and hot water with renewable energy.

This system will work in cold temperatures and still be able to generate heat with temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius. 

Heat pumps are becoming more and more in demand especially in a world where we are constantly looking for greener and renewable energy sources. 

How does an air source heat pump work?

There are three main components to an air source heat pump.

  1. an evaporator
  1. a compressor
  1. a condenser

Air from outside is absorbed into a liquid at low temperatures. The compressor works to increase this temperature. Then with the condenser, the hot liquid heat is transferred to your home’s heating and hot water circuits.

To get the most from your system, large radiators and underfloor heating is recommended. It is worth nothing that ensuring your home is well insulated can play a big part in ensuring that you are gaining the most from your system. If your home is poorly insulated you may find that you are losing heat faster than it is being generated.

Your air source heat pump will be placed outside either fitted to the wall or placed on the ground. It needs adequate space around it to ensure a good air flow.

The external unit is connected to an internal unit that contains circulation pumps and hot water. This internal unit is typically smaller than your average boiler.  

There are two types of air source heat pumps –  

  • Air to Air

This model will not provide you with hot water. They require a warm air circulation system to move the heated air around your home.

This model is also not recognised under the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. 

  • Air to Water

This is the most popular model with the UK and is recognised under the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.

Once the air is absorbed from outside and heated it is then distributed via your wet central heating system.

It is designed to have a lower temperature output, but over a longer period of time. Therefore, you will find that your radiators do not get as hot as they would with a typical boiler. 

What are the benefits to having an air source heat pump?

  • An air source heat pump can significantly lower your energy bills especially if you are replacing conventional heating sources. 
  • You can earn a passive income through the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. 
  • You will lower your home carbon emissions.
  • Can be used to heat both your home and hot water. 
  • Gives a lower heat over a longer period of time. 

What is the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive? 

As part of their promise to reach net zero emissions by 2050 the Government now offers quarterly payments for seven years to those that chose to install or have already installed renewable technology to heat their homes.

The payments are designed to offset the initial installation costs and the running costs that it incurs. 

They offer a quarterly tariff for every kilowatt hour of renewable heat that you produce. To take part in this scheme your application would be made to the energy regulator Ofgem, who also make the payments. 

How much money will I save?

How much money you could save will depend on several factors

  • Your heat distribution system

Underfloor heating is the most efficient way to heat your home with an air source heat pump.

However, if this is not possible then it is advised to use the largest radiators that you can. 

  • Fuel bills

Although you will likely save the most amount of money on your heating bills. You will still be using electricity to run your new system. 

  • Using the controls

Every household will use their system differently. You will more than likely be advised to have your heating on for a longer period of time, but at a lower temperature. 

  • The payback period

This is simply the amount of time it takes you to recover your costs through your energy savings.

This will vary between each individual household and will depend on how efficient your system is. The type of heating system you are replacing and whether you are able to take part in the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. 

NOTE: Although electricity is needed to run your air source heat pump the heat output is greater than the electrical input. Although it is worth noting that although these systems do work in colder weather, they perform at their optimum capacity during warmer weather so during the winter your system will use more electricity to generate the same amount of heat. 

What is the life expectancy of my heat pump?

A typical system will come with a two or three year warranty. Although, this can be extended with a workmanship warranty. With regular maintenance and a yearly service you can expect your system to last at least twenty years. If not longer, if it is maintained correctly. 

You are advised to ensure that the space surrounding your heat pump is kept clear at all times and to remove any plants that start growing around it. You should also regularly check the air inlet grill is free from any obstructions such as leaves or debris.

Although the initial outlay for an air source heat pump may be off putting. The benefits can more than outweigh this. Heat pumps are becoming more and more in demand especially in a world where we are constantly looking for greener and renewable energy sources. 

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