Sustainable Heating: Air Source Heat Pumps
With growing concerns over carbon emissions, government schemes to help people improve the energy efficiency of their home and rising fuel prices, there has never been a better time to explore alternative energy sources. An air source heat pump can provide you with the hot water you need to heat your home, saving you money on your energy bills and helping the environment.
What is an air source heat pump?
An air source heat pump uses warmth in the air to heat water which can then be pumped through your normal heating system.
How does an air source heat pump work?
The technology inside an air source heat pump is very similar to the technology in a refrigerator: it extracts heat from the outside air in the same way. An air source heat pump can work in temperatures as low as -15° C. There are two types of air source heat pump, one is an air-to-water system and the other is air-to-air, the concept and technology in both are the same but one delivers the energy to water to then be circulated in a wet central heating system, where as the other produces warm air which can then be circulated around the property using fans.
What are the advantages of an air source heat pump?
The biggest benefit of installing an air source heat pump is that it is a naturally renewable source of energy, therefore it is an environmentally friendly way of producing your own energy. When integrated into your central heating system, using an air source heat pump will lower your fuel bills and help reduce carbon emissions. An air source heat pump may be preferable over a ground source heat pump because it is easier to fit and requires little maintenance, although you will need to consider whether or not you have the space and if your property is suitable.
Is an air source heat pump suitable for my property?
Firstly you should consider whether or not an air source heat pump would fulfill your heating needs. Heat pumps generate low levels of energy for a longer period of time, during the winter it will need to be left on all the time in order to heat your home and it works best with radiator systems that require a lower temperature spread across a greater surface area for example large radiators or underfloor heating. You should also ensure that your property is well-insulated and draught-proofed before installing an air source heat pump. Heat pumps are most effective when replacing homes that rely on electricity for heating, they may not be cost-effective for a house that currently uses gas heating. You should think about the practical installation of an air source heat pump, it can be placed on a wall or the ground but ideally should be in an area with plenty of sunlight and good air flow.
How much does an air source heat pump cost?
An air source heat pump typically costs between £6,000 and £10,000, including installation. It has some running cost as the pump needs electricity to work. Running costs depend largely on the size of the house and insulation. It is important to remember this when considering an air source heat pump, if your house is not suitable, your heating needs are different or your property is not well insulated, running costs for the system will be higher and therefore it would not be cost effective.
How much will I save using an air source heat pump?
Research done by the Energy Savings Trust calculated that savings vary extensively depending on the type of energy you currently use. For example switching from a gas heating system produced no savings unless the air source heat pump was performing well; even then the saving was only £70 a year. However homes currently using electric heating could gain an annual saving of £330 on a typical performing system. Similarly houses on solid fuel heating would benefit from a £175 saving from using an air source heat pump.
Can I get help paying for the installation costs of an air source heat pump?
If you think an air source heat pump would be suitable for your home and your heating needs that you could get help paying for the cost of installation through government schemes. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is due to be launched in June 2011 which will attempt to encourage houses to switch to renewable, low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps by providing financial help to cover the cost of installation through Renewable Heat Premium Payment system.