The simple answer is yes, but only if they are made by a reputable manufacturer, and installed correctly at a property which is suited to using an ASHP as its heating solution. Please read on for more about the pros and cons of air source heat pumps.
If you’re looking for a new way to stave off the cold this winter, you may have already explored the option of installing an air source heat pump (ASHP). As a renewable heating solution, it is powered by a small amount of electricity and draws heat from the outside air.
This technology will minimise energy usage, whilst providing effective warmth all year round. An air source heat pump is good for the environment and doesn’t compromise your comfort. Your wallet will also be thankful in the long run, as household utility bills plummet significantly.
While you may have heard the term floating around, you might be uncertain as to how an air source heat pump actually works. Heat pumps take heat from a specific source – air, ground or water – and use it to power heating and hot water inside a building.
An air source heat pump can be used to regulate the temperature in your home, depending on the needs of the season. The physical structure of an air source heat pump consists of two components. A unit is installed outside your house on an external wall, which is connected to a separate component inside the house that feeds a wet heating system (air-to-water). You can also get air-to-air heat pumps which dispense warm air, but these are less common in the UK.
At the top of the list of benefits of using a heat pump is energy efficiency. Heat pumps are 300% efficient. Making use of either a ground source or air source heat pump can seriously curtail the negative effects of household heating on the environment. However, the property must have suitable insulation to maximise the positive impact.
The running costs of an air source heat pump are low:
“An average home needs around 12,000 kWh of heat per year. The typical air source heat pump (ASHP) may produce 3kw of heat for every 1kw of electricity it consumes. Therefore, it will consume 4,000 kWh of electricity to satisfy an annual heat demand. If electricity is £0.13 per unit, the yearly running costs are £520.”
Upfront costs are higher than a conventional heating system, but cheaper than a ground source heat pump. Usually, air source heat pumps cost between £7,000 – £10,000. Financial help is available via the Assignment of Rights (AoR) or the Home Energy Scotland Loan.
It is important to note that you don’t need to shoulder all costs alone. The UK government is making a huge push towards energy efficient solutions. As part of this mandate, they introduced the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). As a participant in the scheme, you will receive quarterly payments for your use of renewable heating systems. Air source heat pumps do qualify.
The Assignment of Rights (AoR) goes further in assisting your transition to a more sustainable energy infrastructure. As a homeowner, you partner with a nominated investor who assists with the financials of getting an air source heat pump installed. Your RHI payments are then routed to the investor as a form of reimbursement.
If an air source heat pump is looking more like the right option for you, it’s worth understanding what physical presence it will have in your property. You’ll be pleased to know that a big selling point of an air source heat pump is its modest size.
The outdoor unit measures approximately 1.5m x 1.5m for a system that will heat an average family home. This makes it ideal for many British homes, where outdoor space is at a premium. When it comes to installation, an air source heat pump is far less disruptive than installing a ground source heat pump. Whichever route you go, make sure you follow the proper channels when it comes to installation. It cannot be stressed enough – use a reputable installer that will get the job done in way that does not cause disruption further down the line.
Whilst the benefits of air source heat pumps far outweigh the downsides, it is important to note that this solution is not perfect for every home. Utilising the right heat pump installer is vital, as they will be able to professionally assess any criteria that will makes it an incompatible heating source for your property.
If your property’s insulation is inadequate, this will not be the most effective option for you. The heat distribution method is also a vital factor to consider when making your decision. Low-grade heat needs large radiators or underfloor heating to provide adequate distribution. In simple terms, air source heat pumps provide constant heat at a lower temperature when compared to conventional systems; this is why insulation is important, and also why heat distribution matters.
In addition, there can be a noise factor involved with air source heat pumps, although this has improved dramatically with the latest technology. Whilst the noise is minimal from the outside unit, it is wise to consult with nearby neighbours if the next house is close by.
In many cases, and especially for larger properties – ground source heat pumps are the most efficient solution. They may be a better option for you, but it depends on the building’s heat demands, your available outside space, and your budget. Speak to one of our advisors to learn whether a ground source or air source heat pump is most suitable for your needs.
Air source heat pumps can go a long way to reducing your energy spending, whilst efficiently heating your home. The Renewable Heat Incentive makes long-term affordability easy, and financial help for initial installation has become more prevalent in the form of the Assignment of Rights and the Home Energy Scotland Loan.
However, it is vital that you do your research and get the best advice. Always make sure that an accredited installer is doing the work, and take your time to understand the compliance requirements for RHI before going ahead.
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