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Air Source Heat Pumps For Your Home

Almost half of the UK's CO2 emissions come from energy used to heat space and water, industrial process heating, industrial drying and similar purposes......

Heat Your Home Using The Renewable Energy That Is All Around Us

Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the external air. This is usually used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, or warm air convectors and hot water in your home.

How air source heat pumps work

An air source heat pump takes heat from the outside air, even when the outside temperature is as low as minus 15° C.

Heat pumps have some impact on the environment as they need electricity to run, but the heat they extract from the ground, air, or water is constantly being renewed naturally.

Unlike gas or oil boilers, heat pumps deliver warmth at lower temperatures over much longer periods.  Radiators should never feel as hot to the touch as they would do when using an oil or gas boiler.

There are two main types of air source heat pump system:

  • An air-to-water system passes heat to your wet central heating system. Heat pumps work much more efficiently at a lower temperature than a standard boiler system would. This makes them better suited to power underfloor heating systems or larger radiators, which give out heat at lower temperatures over longer periods of time.
  • An air-to-air system creates warm air which is circulated by fans to heat your home. They are unlikely to provide you with hot water as well.

Warmth from the air is absorbed into a fluid which is pumped through a heat exchanger in the heat pump. Low grade heat is then extracted by the refrigeration system and, after passing through the heat pump compressor, is concentrated into a higher temperature useful heat capable of heating water for the heating and hot water circuits of the house.

The benefits of air source heat pumps

  • Can lower fuel bills, especially if you move away from conventional electric heating.
  • Can reduce your carbon footprint: heat pumps can lower your home’s carbon emissions, depending on which fuel you are replacing.
  • No fuel deliveries required.
  • Can provide space heating and hot water
  • Requires little maintenance.
  • Can be easier to install than a ground source heat pump.


Some points to bear in mind if you are considering air source heat pumps

  • You'll need a place outside your house where a unit can be fitted to a wall or placed on the ground. It will need plenty of space around it to get a good flow of air. A sunny wall works well as a place to locate the unit.
  • Is your home well insulated? As air source heat pumps work best when producing heat at a lower temperature than traditional boilers, it's essential that your home is insulated and draught proofed well for the heating system to be effective.
  • What fuel will you be replacing? The system will pay for itself much more quickly if it's replacing an electricity or coal heating system. Heat pumps are not recommended for homes on the gas network.
  • What type of heating system will you use? Air source heat pumps can perform better with underfloor heating systems or warm air heating than radiator-based systems because of the lower water temperatures required.
  • Is the system intended for a new development? Combining the installation with other building work can reduce the cost of installing the system.


Planning Permission for Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps are in a similar situation to micro wind. Once some current legal technicalities have been resolved, it is expected that air source heat pumps will be permitted developments. Again, further legislation is expected later this year.  This does not mean you can not currently have an air source heat pump. It just means that at present, you must consult with your local authority regarding planning permission.

Note that the permitted development rights are not extended to Listed Buildings which are covered by other planning regulations.



Savings will vary depending on many factors, some are outlined below. It is important that the system is controlled appropriately for your needs. Actual savings figures will depend on your exact fuel prices

  • The heat distribution system: If you have the opportunity, underfloor heating often provides greater efficiencies than radiators because the water doesn’t need to be heated to such a high temperature. If underfloor heating isn’t possible, then use the largest radiators you can.
  • Fuel costs: you will still have to pay fuel bills with a heat pump because they are powered by electricity. The saving you achieve can be affected by the price of the fuel you are replacing and the price of the electricity for the heat pump.
  • Efficiency of old and new system: the efficiency of the old heating system will affect how much you spent on heating bills previously. If the old heating system was inefficient heating bills could have been high and the difference between the new running costs and the old running costs will be greater, therefore providing a greater saving.
  • If the system is providing hot water as well as space heating: the provision of hot water can lower system efficiencies, therefore making running costs higher.
  • Temperature setting: if you heat your home to much higher temperatures with a new heat pump system than you did with an old heating system then your home will be warmer, but heating bills will be higher than if you continued with the same heating pattern. It’s a good idea to set thermostats to around 18 to 21 degrees centigrade.
  • Using the controls: learn how to control the system so you can get the most out of it. Your installer can explain to you how to control the system so you can use it most effectively.

If you wish to reduce your home's CO2 emissions further, you should consider installing solar electricity or some other form of renewable electricity generating system to power the compressor and pump.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have announced that the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is expected to be launched shortly. It is designed to provide financial support to encourage the uptake of renewable and low carbon heat technologies like heat pumps. It is currently in a planning stage and no final decisions have yet been made by DECC.

Ground source heat pumps

These systems use similar principles to air source heat pumps to extract heat from the ground.

Ground source heat pumps use pipes buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground. This is usually used to heat radiators or underfloor heating systems and hot water. Although more expensive than air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps can be more efficient.

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green fuel, energy efficient heating for the home

Green fuel can save you money as well as helping you to do less damage to the environment.  Read more on our 'Greener Homes' pages.

environmentally friendly underfloor heating

Why Is Underfloor Heating Helpful For The Environment?  For more information on the benefits of under floor heating click here.


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