What is an Air source heat pump? – Read this months blog

Spiralling energy costs and an accelerating climate change crisis has meant our housing has to adapt to its impacts. Greater insulation and renewables such as solar panels, heat pumps and biomass heating are tools in our eco-armoury to save energy and money. But when it comes to a renewable energy solution such as an air source heat pump, how do they work, what do they cost and is my property suitable?

What is an air source heat pump?

One of the most common types of heat pumps, an air source heat pump (ASHP) uses similar technology found in a freezer. In other words, it absorbs heat and transfers it to another medium. It essentially extracts heat energy from the air, regardless of the outside temperature and uses it to generate the heating and hot water needs of your home. Some electricity is used but this is only 25% of the energy expended. That leaves 75% from a renewable source.

Placed outside a home, there are two types of air source heat pumps, with the most common being air-to-water systems. This system heats water which is then circulated around the home via radiators or an underfloor heating system. It can also be used to heat water in a storage tank for the bathroom or kitchen. Air-to-air systems, on the other hand, typically use fans to circulate warm air around the home and cannot be used to heat water. The air-to-air system can also operate in reverse, so it’s possible to use it as an air conditioning unit to provide cool air in the summer months.

How much does an air source heat pump cost?

The cost will vary depending on the size of a home, the size of the heat pump and if it’s a new build or existing property. According to the Energy Saving Trust, they can typically cost between £9000-£10000 but homeowners may need to change the way that heat is distributed around their home. It could be the case of upgrading radiators or installing underfloor heating while a home that is well-insulated is also a pre-requisite. Launching in the spring of 2022, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) will provide upfront capital grants of £5000 to homeowners in England and Wales to support the installation of air source heat pumps.

What are the energy savings?

This is the million dollar question, especially with the upfront cost. It will depend on how the heat pump is designed and how it is operated. It will also depend on the type of system that it is replacing. The temperature you want your home to be, the size of your home and how well insulated it is will determine how much your heat pump will cost to run. When compared to a gas or oil boiler, an air source heat pump delivers heat at a lower temperature over long periods, which is another reason why they tend to work better with underfloor heating than conventional radiators.

Should I get one?

Suitable for many types of homes, an air source heat pump is a highly efficient low carbon heating solution. However, there are a number of factors that will help the decision-making process. You will need some space outside for the system and to allow a good flow of air.  You will also need to consider whether you need to replace your existing radiators or install underfloor heating. Most importantly, you need a well-insulated home as this will maintain a temperature once it’s been reached and keep running costs low.

The government is expecting millions of heat pumps to be installed in homes over the next 10-15 years in order to meet our ambitious net zero targets. It’s a renewable solution that This Land is currently rolling out as part its sustainability strategy across a number of developments including Cityglades, The Acacias and Spiregrass Square in Cambridgshire.

For homeowners looking for a great option to reduce their carbon footprint, this renewable energy technology has potential to provide low-cost heating for well-insulated homes. With energy prices soaring, there couldn’t be a better time to switch to this cheaper, more efficient renewable energy source.

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