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How Does an Air Source Heat Pump Work?

 

Air source heat pumps can be a fantastic and efficient replacement for your current heating system. They tend to be cost effective, energy efficient, and they are often quite easy to install. With a great financial incentive scheme as well as the fact that they are very low maintenance, air source heat pumps can be a very attractive option. However, it’s important to know how they work, as well as a little more about the various incentives offered. This page covers that for you.

What is an Air Source Heat Pump?

Air source heat pumps work by absorbing heat from the air at a low temperature and transforming it into a liquid. Following this, the fluid will pass through a compressor, which is where the temperature increases. From there, it transfers its higher heat temperature to the heating and hot water circuits throughout the home. It is important to note that there are two different air source heat pump systems.

Air to Water: this system works by distributing the heat via your wet central heating system. The heat pumps tend to work much more efficiently at a lower temperature than your standard boiler, which makes them more suitable for underfloor heating or large radiators. This is because both of these give out heat at a lower temperature over longer periods of time.

Air to Air: this system works to produce warm air that is then circulated by fans to heat your home. Typically, they are only used for one function (either heating or water heating). This is because they are highly unlikely to be able to provide you with hot water and electricity at the same time. If you use the heating, the hot water will stop and vice versa.

The Cost of Air Source Heat Pumps

When you install a standard air source heat pump, you are looking at the cost of installation to range from £7,000 to £11,000 – not including any extra work that may need to be undertaken. This is much cheaper than some of the other heat pump models that are available on the market, which makes it a very attractive choice for many. When it comes to the running costs, these will depend on several criteria, such as the size of your home and the amount of insulation.

The savings you make could depend on the following criteria:

#1 Your current heating system. If your old heating system is not working efficiently, then you are likely to experience much lower running costs when you decide to purchase and install a new heat pump.

#2 The insulation of your home. It is essential that you ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible before you carry out the installation process. This is because you will want to make the most of your air source heat pump, and by allowing energy to escape through uninsulated areas of your home, or ones that are poorly insulated, you will be paying for wasted heat.

#3 The existing fuel system. Your savings will be much larger and more significant if you decide to replace an old or expensive heating system than if you were connected to the main gas. You will also make frequent savings in your energy bill.

#4 Water heating. For this, you may need a separate electric immersion heater.

The Benefits of an Air Source Heat Pump

  • Lower fuel bills, especially if you are replacing conventional electric heating
  • Potential income through RHI
  • Lower home carbon emissions, depending on which fuel you are replacing
  • No fuel deliveries needed
  • Can heat your home as well as your water
  • Minimal maintenance required, which can save a good chunk of money
  • Often easier to install than other heat pumps

The Available Financial Help

One of the great things about using heat pumps is the fact that it is possible to receive some financial help from the government. You may be eligible to receive payments from what is known as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), due to the energy that is generated from your heat pump. Unfortunately, the scheme is no longer available in Northern Ireland, but you can view further details on the NI Direct website.

RHI regulation updates that affect heat pumps:

  • On 6th July 2015, DECC announced continued amendments to RHI regulations affecting heat pump eligibility
  • The main changes affecting applicants relate to the implementation of the EU directives ‘The Ecodesign of Energy-related Products Directive’ (ERP) and ‘The Energy Labelling Directive’.

Key points of the directives that came into effect for heat pumps from September 2015:

  • A minimum performance standard for heat pumps that will be raised over time.
  • A requirement that heat pumps will be sold with EU energy labels, which provide an efficiency rating.
  • In order to be eligible for the RHI, all new heat pumps entering the market must meet these requirements of these directives. And after 25 March 2016, all heat pumps must meet the requirements, new and existing.

It has been estimated by the government that a semi-detached house that is off the gas grid and situated in a rural area, with an average heat demand of 10,000kWh per year, could receive around £500 in RHI payments per year when using an air source heat pump. However, the EST has made moves to challenge this. Their research shows that the same kind of household could actually be receiving payments of up to £1,350 per year if the home has adequate insulation. As an additional bonus, it has also been reported that repayments as high as £2,914 per year. What this shows is that the repayment scale can actually vary a great deal more than we may think.

Want to Know More?

Have you found yourself interested in air source heat pumps? If you want to know more then make sure you head to our marketplace where you can find our full range of products, each with the relevant information. Or simply give us a ring using the number at the top of this page and have a chat.

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