Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Air Source Heat Pumps: The cheap to install and easy to maintain heat generator

Air Source Heat Pumps (Air Source Heating)
Last week I reviewed the merits of ground source heat pumps as a way to generate energy to heat your home.  Staying on the heat pump theme, this week I review home air source heat pumps.

In recent years many of our northern European cousins have been installing air source heat pumps in their homes.  Air source heat pumps have become a mature technology that have not yet made it into the mainstream here in the UK.  However, as our energy bills continue to rise, more and more UK households are turning to such technologies to help reduce their heating costs.

How do air source heat pumps work?
Air source heat pumps extract the heat from the outside air. Depending on the system, this heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating, heating fans or for certain systems to provide hot water.  They basically work like a fridge but in reverse.

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

  • air to air systems:  these produce warm air which is circulated by fans to heat the home.
  • air to water systems: these provide heat via radiator or underfloor heating.

How much energy will an air source heat pump generate?
Air source heat pumps will deliver in excess of 4kW of heat energy (and will typically expend 1 kW of electricity to generate this heat energy).

What are the advantages of air source heating?

Air source heat pumps can significantly lower your heating bills.  They are relatively easy to install and require little maintenance.

Most manufacturers now offer air conditioners with heat pumps as standard.  Air to air heat pump systems can provide you with both heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.  They can also purify the air in your home, great for hay fever and other allergy sufferers.

Remarkably, air source heat pumps work all year round, even when outside temperatures are freezing.

Are there any constraints?
Air source heat pumps require electricity to operate.  

Whilst these systems will work all year round, their performance (efficiency) will dip at lower temperatures.

Air source heat pumps require space around them to allow for the flow of air.

Cheaper and badly fitted heat pumps will suffer from poor performance.

What consents will I need?
The installation of an air source heat pump is usually considered to be "permitted development", which means that planning permission is not required subject to certain conditions and exclusions.  Check out the Planning Portal Website for further advice.

If you live in a Listed Building or a Conservation Area it is recommended that you speak to your local Council before installing.

Air source heat pumps will have to comply with the Building Regulations.

How much does an air source heating system cost?
Expect to pay at least £3,000 for a good system.

Expect a payback period of around 10 years.  (The better heat pump technologies have a 20 - 25 year life span).

Air source heat pumps are cheaper to install compared to other renewable energy systems.  

Are there any grants or other funding support available?
The Green Deal scheme may be able to help you pay for the upfront costs of the installation through Green Deal financing.  The installation costs will then be paid back over time, with interest,  through your electricity bill.

You could get up to £1,300 through the Government's Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme to help with the cost of installing a heat pump.  Unlike the Green Deal financing, this money does not have to be paid back.  However, to qualify you will need to undertake a Green Deal Assessment before applying.

Your air source heat pump could earn you money under the Government's Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

  • Air source heat pumps are are relatively cheap and easy to install and maintain.  
  • If you are considering installing an air source heat pump don't scrimp on the quality.  The better systems are much more efficient.  
  • Air source heat pumps work best as part of a modern, integrated heating system.


1 comment:

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