A much more environmentally friendly way of providing heat and hot water for your home compared to conventional oil and gas central heating boilers, air source heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their green credentials and savings on home heating bills.
But there’s more to air source heat pumps than just lower bills and being kind to Planet Earth by cutting your carbon footprint. With the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, the Government will actually pay you money for producing renewable heat in your home through the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, which was launched on 9 April 2014. A heat pump will not only save you money but it will make you money too.
What is an air source heat pump and how does it work?
There are two different types of air source heat pumps, air-to-water and air-to-air. In order to deliver your home’s heat and hot water, an air source heat pump will take the natural heat from the air or the water, depending on which type of air source heat pump you have installed. Once the heat has been extracted the heat pump will release this heat in another location and at a higher temperature so it can be used for space heating and heating your hot water.
Air-to-water systems are eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs and distribute heat through your wet central heating system, such as radiators or underfloor heating; while an air-to-air heat pump uses fans to circulate heat to your home. However, unlike air-to-water heat pumps, air-to-air systems cannot be used to provide hot water. But one advantage of air-to-air heat pumps is that on a hot summer’s day if run in reverse they can be used for cooling purposes.
Unfortunately because heat pumps heat water at a lower temperature to conventional boilers, this technology cannot meet all your home’s heating requirements. But heat pumps have many advantages when compared to traditional heating systems.
What are the advantages of air source heat pumps?
- Cheaper fuel bills for a start. You’ll really notice the savings if you’re switching from electric heating.
- Replacing electric heating in a semi-detached with three bedrooms could achieve savings of between £400 and £650 per annum, the Energy Saving Trust estimates.
- Generate a tax free income through the Renewable Heat Incentive. Tariff levels for air source heat pumps (air-to-water) have been set at 7.3p/kWh, with payments made four times a year for seven years.
- Cut your carbon footprint. Although heat pumps require electricity to run, you will be able to cut your household’s emissions by producing renewable heat.
- According to the Energy Saving Trust an average three bedroom semi with electric heating could save between 4,410kg and 5,230kg of carbon dioxide by installing a heat pump.
- Air source heat pumps are virtually maintenance free. You’re actually supposed to fit them and forget about them. Although that’s not quite the case, heat pumps don’t require a massive amount of maintenance.
- An air source heat pump will do the job of both providing heat for your home and hot water.
- They are efficient and reliable and can be used throughout the year.
- Heat pumps are capable of operating even in temperatures as low as -15° C.
Air source heat pump costs & savings
To install an air source heat pump it will cost between £6,000 and £10,000. If you meet the eligibility criteria for the Renewable Heat Premium Payment you should be able to cut the cost by applying for a grant of £1,300 to put towards the installation cost. (The grant scheme closed at the end of March 2014.)
To be eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Renewable Heat Premium Payment the air source heat pump installation must have taken place after 15 July 2009. Your home will also be required to have had a Green Deal assessment and be adequately insulated, with loft insulation (to at least 250mm) and cavity wall insulation.
In terms of achievable savings, this will be influenced by a number of important factors, including the system being used to distribute the heat (under floor heating is the most efficient), how old and efficient your previous heating system is and how knowledgeable you are using the heat pump’s controls.