Why You Should Get Hot Under the Collar Over Air Source Heat Pumps

They’ve been around for some time now – especially on the continent – but they have never been more popular, thanks to the need globally to look for more planet-friendly fuels. Admittedly, the UK has been slow to pick up on the air source heat pump trend, but finally it appears things are really starting to heat up – in more ways than one.

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) really are a great alternative to gas and electric systems for both heating our homes, and ensuring we have hot water, when we need it. Best of all for many householders, heat pumps also mean markedly lower utility bills.

The reason the pumps save us money is because they work by absorbing heat from the air outside our homes and pushing cold air out. And, the air they ‘pump’ through our homes is a lower temperature over a longer period.

Air source heat pumps are so efficient in fact, that they can still heat up our homes when the temperature outside is as low as minus 15 Centigrade. They do require electricity to work, but the amount used is minimal thanks to the fact the pump does most of the work of distributing the heat.


How do air source heat pumps work?

The way the pumps work is to absorb heat from the outside environment and turn it into fluid. This passes through a compressor in the pump, which heats up the fluid and sends it to your home’s heating and hot water pipes.


Can anyone get a heat pump?

Yes, in theory anyone can get air source heat pumps. Before you do though, it’s a good idea to improve your home’s insulation. That way you will benefit from the maximum heat retention possible.

Having larger radiators, as well as underfloor heating will also make a big difference to the cosiness of your home on freezing cold winter mornings.


Where do you put an air source pump?

It’s important to have a large enough wall which the air source pump can be attached to. There should be a lot of room around the pump to allow it to absorb air. It should also be in a light and sunny spot. The pump connects to another small boiler-like unit inside the house. This has circulation pumps inside it, as well as hot water.

The bigger your house, the bigger your air source heat pump will have to be. But this shouldn’t cause too much of a problem since they are easy to attach to a wall (unlike ground source heat pumps which have to be installed into the earth).


Different types of heat pump

As well, as air source pumps, you can also choose air-to-air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps.

Benefits of a contemporary heat pump system

• It can provide both heating and hot water
• It can make quite a welcome dent in your heating and water bills
• You can sell ‘heating’ back to the grid and make money from your new heat pump system (provided it is air to water heat pumps)
• All the fuel is right there ie you don’t need wood, gas canisters or coal delivered
• It’s pretty easy to install
• It needs less maintenance than gas or electric heating – just a professional check every three to five years
• It doesn’t heat up radiators to the same extent that children can burn themselves if they touch them
• It’s safer than a combustion-based heating system because it won’t explode
• There are fewer carbon emissions
• During hot periods it can introduce cool air
• Average life span of a heat pump is around 15 years

Disadvantages of a contemporary heat pump system

• It can cost quite a bit to install
• Not all fluids used are particularly sustainable
• Heating system has to go through walls so can cause quite a bit of disruption
• Some heat pumps don’t do that well in cold weather. It’s worth checking the pump’s Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) before you buy
• Planning permission is required to install heat pumps in Wales and Northern Ireland. In England and Scotland, it is dependent on where you are and how big your property is


How much do heat pumps cost?

Householders in England can get a voucher to cover as much as two-thirds of the value of insulating their home as part of the Green Homes Grant Scheme.

That’s because, like most heating systems, air source heat pumps can be pricey to install. The cost is around half of the cost of their ground source heat pump equivalent though – at anything from £5,000 to £8,000 depending on size and area covered. There is, however, a big saving to made on future utility bills. Then there are the payments for putting heat back into the grid. Both these facts are important when looking at the initial cost of a such as system.

In fact, according to the Energy Savings Trust, having a heat pump installed in place of gas heating can result in a saving of between £1315 to £1975. Replacing an electric heating system with a heat pump will save from £830 to £1465 per annum, while for oil-fired heating the saving is between £475-£735 a year.


Assignment of Rights

(AoR) Introduced in June 2018, the “assignment of rights” (AoR) is where an investor pays for a householder to have an air source heat pump installed and then he or she benefits from the tariffs. As such, the householder has ‘signed over their rights to the tariffs.’ It’s another way for householders to be able to get the renewable energy technology installed when they can’t afford the cost for it upfront.


Renewable Heat Incentive

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a government scheme where householders with air source heat pumps are paid to channel extra heat back into the grid. This is then available for everyone to use.

The payments received depend on how much heat is sent back. There is a tariff system where £10.85 was paid for each p/kWh of renewable heat for households who had applied between 01 July 2020 and 30 September 2020 inclusive). Payments are received quarterly for up to seven years. Tariffs change over time and sometimes the type of metering you use can affect how much you will receive.

The scheme – which has both a Domestic and Commercial element – was introduced in April 2014 by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The intention behind it was to encourage householders to opt for renewable heating methods rather than gas or electricity when it came to changing their fuel supply. The government did have a target of 12% heating from renewable sources this year (2020) but has missed this target.

The Domestic RHI scheme covers England, Wales and Scotland. Anyone can apply provided they generate heat and hot water for their home from a renewable source and that their home’s particular technology is listed as a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certified product.

As well as air to water heat pumps, the scheme covers ground to water heat pumps, biomass pellet stoves with integrated boilers and biomass (wood fuelled) boilers. Other renewable energy sources include solar thermal panels, water source heat pumps and high temperature heat pumps


Get in touch!

Tempted by the money savings and ease of maintenance involved in air source heat pumps? We don’t blame you! To find out more about this much greener form of energy get in touch with the team here at Batchelors in Buckinghamshire. Tel: 01234 712 901 or email us at info@batchelor.co.uk.