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Exploring ways to reduce your fuel bills is a worthwhile endeavour for any homeowner. Installing a heat pump is one option you can explore to generate your own heat, and possibly save a little cash.
There are a few different types of heat pump to choose from, but air source heat pumps are often the best option. Read on to learn how they work and how much they cost to run, as well as how much installing an air source heat pump costs.
What Are Heat Pumps?
The name ‘heat pump’ refers to a variety of different pieces of machinery. At the most basic level, they all take heat from a specific source and transfer it to a different outlet, heating either air or water in the process.
Heat pumps are traditionally used for space heating via radiators, underfloor systems or warm air convectors. You can also reverse the process of space heating and use the same pumps for air conditioning or cooling. You can find out more about the technical aspects of heat pumps by reading this guide from the Renewable Energy Hub.
Air Source and Ground Source Heat Pumps – How do They Work?
Heat pumps work by extracting warmth from a particular source and boosting it to a higher temperature. The heat is then moved to a different place, or utilised in a particular system. The two main types of heat pumps get their names from the sources which they initially extract heat from:
Ground Source Heat Pumps
Ground source heat pumps take the heat from the ground outside your property, extracting warmth from the residual heat of the earth or from underground water sources.
Air Source Heat Pumps
Air source heat pumps take warmth from the outside air. That warmth gets absorbed at low temperature into a fluid which is passed through a compressor that increases its temperature.
The energy of the hot liquid is then used in one of two ways, depending on the type of air-source heat pump system:
1. Air-to-Water Heat Pumps
These heat pumps transfer the hot liquid’s energy to your wet central heating system. The heat they produce isn’t quite as warm as that generated by traditional boilers. The systems, though, work well with larger radiators or underfloor heating.
They also qualify for the UK government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, through which you can get quarterly cash payments for seven years – all for having installed a renewable energy heating system.
2. Air-to-Air Heat Pumps
Air-to-Air heat pumps use the hot liquid they produce to directly heat the air in your home. To do this they utilise fans or similar pieces of equipment. Unfortunately, these systems do not qualify for the RHI.
This video from The Engineering Mindset provides a great explanation of the technology behind heat pumps.
Air Source Heat Pump Running Costs
An air-source heat pump can be significantly more cost-efficient in the long-term, especially if you’re replacing an older, inefficient heating system. In fact, you can recoup the cost of installing the pump quite quickly.
The following table shows how much you can save each year, by replacing your current heating system with an air source heat pump. The figures come from the Energy Savings Trust and are based on an average-size four-bedroom detached property:
|Existing System||Annual Fuel Bill Saving||Annual RHI Payments|
|Old (G-Rated) Gas Boiler|
New (A-Rated) Gas Boiler
|£560 to £650|
£105 to £110
|£1,341 to £1,586|
|Old Electric Storage Heaters|
New Electric Storage Heaters
|£1,065 to £1,315|
|Old (G-Rated) Oil Boiler|
New (A-Rated) Oil Boiler
|£930 to £1,100|
£285 to £330
|Old (G-Rated) LPG Boiler|
New (A-Rated) LPG Boiler
|£1,365 to £1,610|
£565 to £660
|Coal-Based System||£540 to £665|
How much you save also depends on factors other than the system you’re replacing. Your property must be well insulated and it’s crucial to fill any gaps in window frames and walls.
How Much Does an Air Source Heat Pump Cost to Install?
Air source heat pumps look almost identical to air conditioning units. They’re much simpler and less disruptive to install than the ground source version. Your garden doesn’t need to be destroyed to install them, as the heat gets taken from the air.
Installing an air source heat pump isn’t something you should do yourself unless you’re a qualified and experienced expert. If not, find a tradesman to handle the installation for you.
Installation of an air source heat pump isn’t cheap – the Energy Savings Trust estimates that you’re likely to spend somewhere between £6,000 and £8,000. However, as the above table shows, you could potentially recoup that amount in a few years.
Hopefully, our guide to air source heat pumps and how much they cost has helped you to decide if such a system is the right choice for your property. If you think it is, you can find skilled and accredited professionals to handle the installation via Rated People.
If you’re still not sure (or have any other questions), either leave us a comment, get in touch on social media or share this post with your friends.