Things To Know Before Installing An Air Source Heat Pump in Your Home

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If you are thinking of Installing an air source heat pump there is a good chance you will have a few questions and things you are unsure about, well look no further, this article should get to the bottom of it all and hopefully by the time you have finished reading you will know if an air source heat pump is right for you! I have gone through the process of finding and installing a heat pump in my home, so this should stand me in a good position to give out the best advice I can. However, not everything is easy to understand , I found several important factors to consider before taking the plunge, particularly revolving around the air source heat pump installation cost and the necessary property adaptations to accommodate a system in your home.

,In my quest for a green heating solution, the government’s previous Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the current Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) caught my attention. These initiatives do present a considerable financial argument, offsetting upfront costs and supporting the shift towards green energy solutions. Nevertheless, I was aware that the installation of an air source heat pump is not a one size, fits-all solution. Every home will have differing prerequisites, such as varying levels of wall and loft insulation, plus different external spaces for the heat pump to be situated, all having positive and negative effects on the efficiency of a heat pump system.

Finding credible air source heat pump installers near me became a priority, so that I could get their opinions and quotations, I had an idea how it would all fit, but their expertise would be invaluable in assessing my property for suitability and explaining the actual installation process. They would also be instrumental in calculating potential running costs of the system and offsetting the grants towards the installation costs, so that I could work the financial viability of installing an air source heat pump on my average sized house.

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Adding to the complexity, I had to consider the lower operating temperatures of these pumps, which turned out to be unnecessary worry, as this is all built in to MCS calculations that are done before installation. Despite this worry, if sized correctly, I knew an air source heat pump would meet all my domestic heating and hot water needs. It’s not just about the boiler upgrade scheme or the costs involved; it’s about making a responsible, well-informed decision that aligns with my environmental values and long-term financial planning.

Understanding Air Source Heat Pumps and Their Functionality

As an increasingly popular choice for not just for eco-conscious homeowners, but all homeowners, air source heat pumps (ASHPs) are transforming the way we heat our homes. Utilising the ambient air as a renewable heat source, these systems offer a new super efficient alternative to traditional fossil-fuelled heating methods. Let’s explore further how these heat pumps function and what sets them apart in the world of domestic heating solutions.

How Air Source Heat Pumps Work

The core principle behind a heat pump system is its ability to transfer heat from one place to another. Despite common misconceptions, an air source heat pump is capable of extracting heat even when outdoor temperatures are as low as -25 degrees Celsius, which to most people, including myself, seems completely bizarre. This is achieved through a refrigerant fluid that absorbs the heat before a compression cycle releases the heat to be circulated inside a home.

Characteristics of Air to Water Heating Systems

The most popular type of ASHP is the air to water heating system, which is designed to operate with water-based heating elements such as radiator and underfloor heating systems. By harnessing low-grade heat from the outdoor air and upgrading it to heat water to about 50 degrees Celsius, they provide a comfortable and sustainable heating solution throughout the home. There are different heat pumps that will work to a high temperature, but higher does not always mean better as the hotter each system runs, the less efficient it becomes, so 50 degrees is the happy medium, and the standard set by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). If your house is 100% underfloor heating, then a lower design temperature will be required in comparison to radiators.

Heat Pumps Will Require Radiator Upgrades

To ensure the correct functioning of  what some people call a heat source pump for short, it may be necessary to upgrade existing radiators for new higher output radiators. Due to the lower operating temperatures of ASHPs, in comparison to gas and oil heat systems, traditional radiators may not have a high enough output to achieve the desired room temperatures. Therefore, larger higher output radiators may need to be installed, the design calculations will specify the output required once your home has been surveyed. The principle of larger radiators is based on having a lower flow temperature in the heating system, the lower the flow temperature, the larger the radiator is needed.

One of the most common things I have heard from discussing heat pumps with friends and colleagues, is that people can be reluctant to change their radiators, citing the reason as “I don’t like my house too hot”, however the point has been completely misunderstood here. The upgraded radiators are not just to get the house warm, but to do it as fast as possible! The faster the heat can get out of the air source heat pump, and into the radiators, which then let the heat out into your rooms, then the cheaper it will be to run!

The Impact of Insulation on Heat Pump Efficiency

When considering the transition to a heat pump system, it’s not just the air source heat pump cost that matters, but also the readiness of the property to support low carbon technology effectively. Insulation stands as the silent yet indomitable factor that can steer a heat pump’s performance from good to exceptional. Let’s delve into how insulation influences efficiency and what you need to know prior to installation.

Improving Home Insulation for Better Heat Pump Performance

To get straight to the point, loft and wall insulation is the most important measure you can take to make a house suitable for a heat pump, there is no short cut. Sufficient insulation acts much like a thermal envelope, locking in the warmth and ensuring the output of a heat pump isn’t lost through the walls, floors and ceiling. This is especially pertinent for air source heat pumps, where heat pumps run at a lower temperature based on a continual heating process, heat leakage can significantly diminish overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

From an investment point of view any insulation measures will be good move when considering installing a heat pump. Draught proofing around windows and doors can also make a significant difference. A well-insulated home requires less energy to stay warm, allowing an air source heat pump to operate within its ideal parameters, thus financially optimising your return on investment.

Assessing Your Home’s Insulation Before Installation

Before having a heat pump you will need heat loss survey carried out on the property, this is done by specialist installers, so isn’t something you need to do before inviting companies around to give you a quotation. The audit of insulation levels became a pivotal step in my commitment to sustainable heating, and although I didn’t need get my own survey before, I recognised the importance of gauging my home’s insulation status prior to looking at an air source heat pump. It’s crucial to identify any potential weak spots where heat could escape, such as through insufficient loft insulation or notorious drafty windows, and getting these issues rectified before a heat pump is fitted.

These are the main areas of concern in most homes:

  • Loft and Attic Spaces: Ensuring they are bolstered with high-quality insulation material.
  • Walls: Cavity wall insulation or solid internal wall insulation (IWI) is a game-changer in older properties like mine.
  • Floors and Basements: These often-overlooked areas are the hardest to rectify, usually because there is little or no access without major disruption.

A heat loss survey helped us figure out the most cost effective insulation upgrades, laying the groundwork for a successful heat pump installation. This experience highlighted the idea that making renewable energy systems efficient isn’t solely reliant on cutting-edge technology; it’s equally about tapping into the basic principles of thermodynamics.

The following table illustrates the potential impact of insulation improvements on the efficacy and running costs of my heat pump:

Insulation AreaBefore ImprovementAfter ImprovementPercentage Efficiency Gain
LoftPoor200mm or loft insulationUp to 25%
Cavity wallsNon-existentCavity walls filledUp to 40%
FloorsMinimalSealed and insulatedUp to 20%
Window glazingSingleDouble/triple glazingUp to 25%

It’s clear that for any homeowner in the UK considering the installation of an air source heat pump, overlooking the vitality of property insulation is not the best option. The intimate link between a snugly wrapped home and the consistency of a modern heat pump system is the definition of a match made in heaven.

Assessing the Suitability of Your Property for a Heat Pump System

Following on the the above point, the heat pump will always do a job of heating your home, as long as it is the right size for your home, but the simple equation is as follows:

  • Low insulation levels = Larger heat pump, larger radiators, higher installation and running costs.
  • Good insulation levels = Smaller heat pump, smaller radiators, lower installation and running costs.

Both of the above will get you you to the same end goal, but having a well insulated house, is a no brainer, for both environmental and financial reasons.

Finding a Location For Your Heat Pump to Sit

My first step was to identify a suitable exterior space. A heat pump requires ample airflow to efficiently extract heat; hence, I scoured my property for a spot that was not only on solid ground but also a distance from potential obstructions such as plants and neighbours fencing. Mounting it to an external wall was also an option I considered, I was told by the installers that the wall brackets have in-built rubber mounts to stop vibrations, however I did have ground space at my house to situate the heat pump and I personally think sitting a heat pump on the ground should always be first choice, using a wall only as a last resort. I even checked planning regulations to ensure that the installation would comply with both the town and country planning act, as well as MCS requirements.

The main planning rules for air source heat pumps include some location based requirements, as well as other regulations around the heat pump size and noise necessities, which are already manufacturer built into the design and engineering of the air source heat pump.

  • The volume of the air source heat pump’s outdoor compressor unit (including housing) must not exceed 0.6 cubic metres
  • Only the first installation of an air source heat pump would be permitted development, and only if there is no existing wind turbine on a building or within the curtilage of that property. Additional wind turbines or air source heat pumps at the same property requires an application for planning permission
  • All parts of the air source heat pump must be at least one metre from the property boundary
  • Installations on pitched roofs are not permitted development. If installed on a flat roof all parts of the air source heat pump must be at least one metre from the external edge of that roof
  • Permitted development rights do not apply for installations within the curtilage of a Listed Building or within a site designated as a Scheduled Monument
  • On land within a Conservation Area or World Heritage Site the air source heat pump must not be installed on a wall or roof which fronts a highway or be nearer to any highway which bounds the property than any part of the building
  • On land that is not within a Conservation Area or World Heritage Site, the air source heat pump must not be installed on any part of a wall above the level of the ground floor storey if that wall fronts a highway.

(Source: Planning Portal, 2024)

Where Will The Hot Water Cylinder Go?

Next, I needed to consider the placement of the hot water cylinder required for storing domestic hot water, the air source heat pump is heating the hot water cylinder, so the location was equally crucial. My intent was to have it within close proximity to the pump to mitigate heat loss in transfer, the airing cupboard seemed an ideal space, and with my property’s layout I did have a space in the corner of my utility room that could house the cylinder, which is actually closer to the heat pump than the airing cupboard. The cylinder would however be intruding upon the storage space downstairs, so I decided that a slightly higher heat loss, due to increased distance between the units, does seem like trade off which I am willing to accept for the extra space I have saved downstairs.

Installing an Air Source Heat Pump: Size and Model Considerations

When it comes to upgrading your home with an efficient heating solution, picking correct size and model of an air source heat pump is essential for both correct functioning and efficiency. This process requires balancing the unique aspects of your property and total heat demand, against the offerings in the UK market. In my experience, thorough research coupled with professional advice from air source heat pump installers near me, ensures that your investment pays off in terms of performance and energy savings, with two areas to make a choice in, heat pump size (power), then the manufacturer brand.

Determining the Correct Heat Pump Size for Your Home

On this occasion, size truly matters! A unit too small will be overworked and will become less efficient, usually lasting much less than the suggested life expectancy, while an oversized pump again will consume too much power, think of it as of taking a monster truck to your local supermarket once a week, its just not necessary. Therefore the heat loss calculation, once the survey is done, will give you a good idea of the heat requirements of your home, then you can make a specific to you, information based decision on choosing the right size heat pump.

Comparing Models: The Mitsubishi Ecodan Example

The Mitsubishi Ecodan range stands out as a fitting example of how different models cater to varied heating needs. As I’ve navigated the vast number of heat pumps out there, comparing features and performance against the upfront heat pump installation cost is crucial in making an informed decision. The Ecodan models are renowned for their reliability and eco-friendliness, as well as their ability to mesh with existing heating systems. The main advantage of Mitsubishi is their incredible performance of 1kw input, to 4kw of heat output, with the water flow temperature at 50 degrees, however the Mitsubishi Ecodan is in a league of its own because this performance doesn’t deteriorate until the outside temperature is below minus -7 degrees, there is no other heat pump out there that comes close to that level of performance in cold conditions.

 I always suggest reaching out to air source heat pump installers for tailor-made quotations that reflect your particular circumstances, which you can do with Compare Renewables! Just fill in your details  to receive more information and prices from local installers.

Financial Incentives: Renewable Heat Incentive and Boiler Upgrade Scheme

As the UK general public are slowly opening up to the utilisation of renewable technologies for home heating, most are not aware of the financial commitments involved. However, the availability of incentives like the now concluded Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the current Boiler Upgrade Scheme have made a significant difference, by easing the impact of the initial heat pump cost on homeowners in the UK.

How the Boiler Upgrade Scheme Benefits Homeowners

Let me explain how the current Boiler Upgrade Scheme benefits homeowners across the country. This incentive is designed as a succour to those embracing greener living through the adoption of air source heat pumps. Unlike the RHI, which gave back investment over several years, this newer initiative provides an upfront grant—substantially reducing the initial financial outlay and propelling the shift towards sustainable energy adoption. Below is a tabular peek into how these schemes compare and their implications for a typical homeowner.

 

AspectRenewable Heat Incentive (now closed)Boiler Upgrade Scheme (until 31 March 2025)
Type of BenefitQuarterly paymentsOne-off grant
Duration7 yearsAt installation, deducted from invoice
ObjectiveIncentivise sustained renewable heat productionLower upfront cost for fast adoption
Benefit to HomeownerLong-term financial return based on heat outputImmediate reduction in installation cost

While the RHI has promoted the generation of renewable heat and subsequently recompensed the homeowner, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme’s instant financial support is a compelling motivator for interested homeowners who are wary of steep upfront expenditures, especially in times of high interest rates for borrowing. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) is a huge step towards a low-carbon future for the UK, and is further sweetened by the long-term savings achieved through reduced energy bills.

Integrating Air Source Heating with Existing Systems

When considering an upgrade to a heat pump system, many homeowners are keen to understand the integration process with their existing heating infrastructure and I see a lot of questions surrounding the disruption. It’s no secret that the air source heat pump will need a  significant amount of work to install, so ensuring that the integration to what is currently there is important. Below, I outline the key factors to bear in mind when combining an air source heating system with your current setup.

One of the main issues people are concerned about is pipework, well I have good news, 99% of homes in the UK that have a heat pump retro fitted do not need replacement pipework, there is only a few homes which have a single pipe system, which isn’t compatible, and a few more where the existing plumbing work is ancient and needs upgrading. While air source heat pumps operate most effectively with low-temperature heating solutions, such as underfloor heating, the reality is that many houses are fitted with more traditional radiator systems, which is perfectly fine, but will require some radiators upgrades for optimal efficiency. Below is a table of what can be kept from exiting systems, plus what needs to be replaced.

Heating System ComponentCompatibility with Air Source Heat PumpPotential Modification RequiredEstimated Modification Cost
Traditional RadiatorsMediumsome replacement radiators with larger, higher output radiatorsVaries per household
Underfloor HeatingHighNoneN/A – if system already in place
Hot Water CylinderNot CompatibleCylinder replacement with installation of heat pump for compatibilityFrom £1000 to £2500 included in the total cost
Storage HeatersNot CompatibleFull wet system to be installedChanged to a traditional wet radiators, as above

Calculating the Heat Pump Installation Cost and Potential Savings

When considering a switch to an environmentally friendly heating system for your home, scrutinising the heat pump installation cost against the potential savings is usually the area which influences a decision the most. An air source heat pump cost may appear steep; however, the long-term financial picture, when you include government grants, and savings over time are a good reason to invest.

Breaking Down the Air Source Heat Pump Cost

The initial outlay for an air source heat pump (ASHP) typically ranges between £12,000 and £17,000, fully installed. The price is dictated by the complexity of installation, the size of the unit needed for your home, number of replacement radiators, and the chosen brand of your heat pump. However, there is financial incentive on offer from the government, through a scheme designed to fast forward the transition to low carbon heating, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) was launched on the 1st April 2022 and is a 3 year scheme, ending in 2025. When the Boiler Upgrade Scheme was launched, the offer was a £5000 voucher which can be redeemed against the installation costs. Due to the low uptake of the vouchers, the voucher was increased in October 2023 by a further £2500, to a total of £7500.

Here’s what a typical cost breakdown might include:

  • The heat pump unit itself
  • A heat pump compatible hot water cylinder
  • Replacement radiators
  • Technical survey
  • Smart controllers, filters & isolators

Long-Term Financial Benefits and ROI

While the initial expense merits consideration, add in the £7500 boiler upgrade scheme voucher and the long-term savings do tip the scales in our favour. Efficiently engineered ASHPs such as the Mitsubishi’s & Vaillant’s, can run at significantly lower costs when compared with traditional heating systems such as gas boilers. On average, users might see a saving of up to 50% on running costs, thus a lower overall heat pump cost in the long run, when compared to gas and oil boilers.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is a great offer to help keep costs down, when adding in longer term performance savings the outcome results in a convincing return on investment (ROI). But the scheme won’t be around forever, so with the change to low carbon heating coming fast and strong, I would urge you to take the offer as soon as possible, if you can.

You can get a quote from local suppliers, sent to you directly from Compare Renewables. Just press the button below and fill in your contact details!

Year-Round Performance: Can Heat Pumps Cope in Winter?

As we tread through the ever-changing climes of our British weather, one question lingers among those pondering a leap into renewable heating: can air to water heat pumps indeed provide comfort during the icy chills of winter? I’ve delved into the depths of this topic, exploring how these innovative systems fair when the winter hits hard.

Understanding the Performance of Air to Water Heat Pumps in Cold Weather

In the heart of winter, when British weather really gets it reputation, the robustness of air source heating is put to the test. But fear not, air to water heat pumps are engineered to meet these challenges head-on. They draw thermal energy from the air – yes, even when it feels baltic outside – and concentrate it to warm our homes as good as it does in the other three seasons.

Remarkably, the best heat pumps achieve this with a steadfast efficiency down to -25 degrees Celsius. Though you correctly may envisage a dip in their efficiency as temperatures plummet, air source heating systems are designed with a tactical approach, but not all models are great in cold conditions, this is where the men separate themselves from the boys, as they would say. Please don’t try to buy a heat pump off amazon, because you will be cold! Mitsubishis are the best heat pumps you can buy for cold weather so even though there might be a premium with a better heat pump, I promise it will be money well spent, as you will be warm, and your running costs will be lower than with any other heat pump.

The ingenuity of these systems lies not only in their capacity to combat the cold but also in their versatility. They integrate harmoniously with most standard heating solutions, from conventional radiator systems to modern wet underfloor heating systems, distributing warmth evenly and effectively throughout every corner of our homes.

Installation Process: What To Expect From Air Source Heat Pump Installers Near You

Once that you have made the decision to  transition to a heat pump system, it’s crucial to understand the complete scope of the installation process. As someone who has spent a long period of time looking for reputable air source heat pump installers, let me impart some practical insights into what you can typically expect during the setup of your new system. Firstly, be prepared for the process to take up to 3 days for an average-sized home. During this period, my home’s heating and hot water supply may be interrupted for 1 to 2 days. This might seem inconvenient, but with the long-term benefits of upgrading to air to water heat pump, a little patience goes a long way.

Having an installation undertaken by MCS-certified professionals will ensure that the process is streamlined and meets all the necessary compliance standards, you will also need an MCS accredited installer to get access to the boiler upgrade scheme. Good two way communication and thorough planning before the work begins are essential. Below is a table outlining the key phases you can expect during the installation of an air source heat pump:

DayPhaseActivities
1Removal of existing heating systemOnsite preparation, and removal of current heating system
1-2External workInstallation of the outdoor unit which needs a solid base, or wall fixings for wall-mounted units.
2Internal workHanging new radiators, plumbing the new cylinder in.
5Electrical work & CommissioningWiring of the new controls and heat pump. Complete system testing, final checks, and handover to homeowner with guidance on use.

I personally believe that embracing a greener heating solution like an air to water heat pump system is a positive step towards energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, which personally feels good! Finding reputable air source heat pump installers is just the beginning of a journey and it is import you check out their Trustpilot Reviews before making a decision, as unfortunately there are some cowboys out there. With the right preparation and understanding of the installation process, I’m confident that my investment will pay off both financially and environmentally in the years to come.

Combining An Air Source Heat Pump With Solar PV Panels

Now here’s for the magic part, air source heating is a fantastic upgrade, but a heat pump still needs electrical power to run, so what if you could get free running of your system from solar power! Combining an air source heat pump (ASHP) with solar PV panels is a genius idea. It’s not just about being eco-friendly — it’s a cost-effective solution that significantly reduces my dependence on the traditional power grid, which means I don’t have to buy much, if any, electricity at all.

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 Solar PV panels are a whole topic for another time, but the principle is, a good size solar PV system could financially run a heat pump, as well as your other electrical appliances throughout the year. Now I know what you’re thinking, we don’t get much sun in the winter, and that is when we need the heating the most. Smart meters have enabled the emergence of ‘smart electricity tariffs’, which when coupled up with storage batteries gives a game changing solution.

Using Storage Batteries to Power Your Heat Pump In the Evening

The first priority of a solar storage battery is to store excess solar electricity in the battery for use at a later time, that’s the simple bit. Now over the last couple of years, energy companies such as Octopus, have brought tariffs to market based on different kinds of usage, such as consumers with heat pumps, electric cars & solar PV. One innovative part of all the tariffs, is that you can buy electricity through the night, usually around 00:30 to 5am with heavily reduced rates, sometimes up to 75% less than the average cost. In the winter when your solar panels can’t generate enough power too heat your home for a full day, you can use the reduced rate electricity in the night to fill your solar batteries up, which means that in the day time you are using electricity from your storage battery, charged up the night before costing you a quarter of it what it would have cost you to buy electricity throughout the day time. This means that the heat pump installation cost pays off more than twice as fast as before, as it continues to function using the free solar power or heavily reduced price electricity from the grid purchased the previous night.

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The possibilities are not just exciting; they’re tangible. With the right home setup, your heat pump can be more than a heating solution; it can be part of a comprehensive home energy ecosystem. The upfront heat pump installation cost is mitigated over time, thanks to the lower operating expenses and the overnight charging savings, while solar panels can potentially provide all the power your heat pump needs for 6-8 months a year, and maybe more.

The Longevity and Maintenance of Air Source Heat Pumps

When it comes to ensuring the longevity of air source heating systems, I must stress the importance of regular servicing. By choosing an experienced air source heat pump installer, you can also use the same company for  annual inspections, which not only keeps your system in good working order and extending the heat pumps life span, it is in the t&c’s of most heat pump warranty documents to have an annual service to keep your warranty in tact.

Expected Lifespan of Air Heat Pumps

The expected lifespan for a correctly maintained air source heat pump is between 15 and 25 years—an impressive term for such a significant component of your home’s heating system. That said, longevity hinges on the consistency of regular checks and the expertise of the technicians carrying out maintenance.

Regular Maintenance for Optimal Efficiency

Here in the United Kingdom, the varying weather patterns and consistent use mean our heat pumps are working hard all year round. To maintain peak performance, I find it best to set up a schedule for heat pump maintenance with a trusted technician. This entails a full system inspection, removing leafs and debris from the exterior,  cleaning or replacing filters, checking refrigerant levels and ensuring electronic components are functioning as they should.

Conclusion

In summary, it’s clear that air source heat pumps offer a formidable and affordable over the long term solution for sustainable home heating. From understanding the functionalities of heat pumps and their integration with existing home pipework, to exploring financial incentives and the importance of proper insulation, we’ve covered off all of the essentials of what is included in the switch over to an air source heat pump.

Let Compare Renewables Do The Hard Work

This article is aimed to give clarity and a first person view on how air source heat pumps and the process works, which is what this platform Compare Renewables aims to do. This service is completely free and here to connect homeowners with local MCS certified installers, who have been checked out and verified by compare renewables, so you don’t have to!

Find a Local Heat Pump Installer With Compare Renewables

Locating proficient air source heat pump installers near me was a challenge, but with Compare Renewables you simply enter you contact details, and then you will receive up to three prices from companies operating in your area. For any homeowner in the United Kingdom looking to make the change and wanting to know if it will work on your home, click the button below and fill in the form, then that is step 1 of your heat pump journey complete.

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