What is an air source heat pump?

An air source heat pump (ASHP) is a highly efficient, renewable energy device that transfers heat from the exterior air to the inside of a building, or vice versa.

It essentially operates similarly to a refrigerator, but in reverse: while a fridge extracts heat from its interior and disperses it into the surrounding kitchen, an air source heat pump absorbs heat from the outside air and releases it inside a property.

This heat can then be used to warm central heating systems or provide hot water.

Despite the name, these clever devices can extract ambient heat even when outdoor temperatures are sub-zero (even as low as -25°C), making them a practical and eco-friendly solution for heating homes throughout the year.

Some of the key benefits of an air source heat pump are that:

  • They are a clean, green and cost-effective source of renewable energy.
  • An air source heat pump is up to 400% more efficient than gas boilers.
  • They can massively reduce your carbon footprint.
  • ASHPs make very little noise.
  • They can potentially reduce your energy bills by up to nearly £400 a year.

How does an air source heat pump work?

An air source heat pump works by absorbing heat from the outside air. This heat is then transferred into a refrigerant fluid, which passes through a compressor.

The compression process enhances the heat, producing a temperature high enough to heat your home. This warm air can be distributed to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, or hot water in your property.

It’s a continuous cycle that keeps your home warm, regardless of the weather outside. The beauty of this system is that it uses a renewable energy source (air) and a minimal amount of electricity to operate, making it an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective heating solution.

Air source heat pump cost

While the average cost of an air source heat pump is £14,000, the price tag can range anywhere from £3,000 in Wales and Scotland and £5,500 in England up to £30,000 – depending on a variety of factors.

The cost of air source heat pumps in the UK is influenced by a variety of factors, including the size of your home, the level of insulation, and the specific heat pump model you choose.

While the initial outlay may seem substantial, it’s important to remember that an air source heat pump can deliver significant savings on energy bills in the long run.

Additionally, the UK government’s ECO4 Scheme could provide eligible households with grants to cover part or all of the cost – but we’ll cover that in detail later on in the blog.

This makes the transition to this eco-friendly heating solution more accessible and affordable than ever before.

How efficient is an air source heat pump?

ASHPs are incredibly efficient in transferring heat from the external environment into your home, especially when comparing an air source heat pump to an oil boiler.

The device’s efficiency can reach around 300 to 400%, meaning for every kilowatt of electricity used, it produces three to four times that amount in heat energy. This high-efficiency ratio, known as the Coefficient of Performance (CoP), means you’re receiving more energy than you’re consuming, making it a highly cost-effective solution.

This efficacy is maintained even during the colder months, with the ability to extract heat from the air at temperatures as low as -25°C. As such, air source heat pumps stand out as a sustainable and efficient choice for year-round home heating.

So, when you’re making a decision between fossil fuels or renewable energy for your home energy source, if your home is suitable for a heat pump you should definitely consider the upgrade.

Government heat pump funding

The UK government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Scheme is currently in its fourth phase (ECO4), and it presents a fantastic opportunity for eligible households to make the shift to renewable energy with air source heat pumps.

The scheme is part of a broader commitment to reduce carbon emissions and tackle energy poverty. If you meet certain criteria, such as being on low income, receiving certain government benefits or living in social housing with an energy efficiency rating of E, F, or G, you could receive a grant to cover part or even all of the cost of air source heat pumps.

Given the cost of air source heat pump installation, this significant financial aid makes the initial investment much more manageable and the long-term savings on energy bills even more rewarding.

Different types of air source heat pump

Air source heat pumps can be broken down into three different model types; hybrid; air-to-air and air-to-water.

Each system has its own benefits and use cases, so it’s important to know which one is right for your home.

Hybrid air source heat pumps

A hybrid air source heat pump combines the functions of an air source heat pump and a traditional heating system, such as a gas or oil boiler.

This innovative design allows the system to intelligently switch between the heat pump and boiler, depending on which is the most efficient at any given time.

During milder weather, the heat pump portion provides heating by extracting heat from the outside air. On colder days, when a heat pump might be less efficient, the system switches to the boiler for heating.

This dual approach ensures optimal energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness, making hybrid air source heat pumps a smart choice for those seeking a balance between eco-friendly heating and traditional home comfort.

Air-to-air air source heat pumps

Air-to-air air source heat pumps are a type of air source heat pump system that work by extracting heat from the outdoor air and then transferring it directly into your home as warm air, via a fan system.

This type of heat pump is particularly efficient at providing space heating. However, it’s worth noting that unlike other types of air source heat pumps, air-to-air systems do not provide hot water.

They are a popular choice due to their efficiency and cost-effectiveness, with the added bonus that during warmer months, the system can be reversed to provide cooling, much like an air conditioning unit.

Air-to-water air source heat pumps

Air-to-water air source heat pumps are another widely used type of ASHP system. These units extract heat from the outside air and then use it to heat water for use in your home.

This heated water is then circulated through radiators or underfloor heating systems to keep your home warm. They can also supply hot water for use in showers, taps, and appliances.

Their high efficiency and versatility in providing both heating and hot water solutions make them a popular choice among homeowners seeking a cost-effective and sustainable heating system.

What’s the difference between air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps?

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) and air source heat pumps function on the same basic principle of heat transfer. However, the main difference lies in their source of heat.

GSHPs extract heat from the ground, using pipes buried in your garden. The heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid within the pipes and then passed through a heat exchanger.

On the other hand, ASHPs absorb heat from the outside air to heat your property and hot water.

While GSHPs tend to be more efficient due to stable ground temperatures, they require more upfront work including the installation of ground loops in your garden, and consequently, they can be more expensive than ASHPs.

Check ECO4 eligibility today

Thank you for reading our post about the cost of air source heat pumps.

We hope this overview has provided helpful information to help you decide whether an ASHP is a suitable heating system for your home.

If you think you meet the criteria for ECO4 funding, don’t hesitate to check your eligibility today by completing the So-Eco eligibility check form today.

With the scheme only running until 2027, now is the perfect time to join thousands of homes across the UK and make the switch to eco-friendly energy with air source heat pumps. We look forward to hearing from you.

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