Air Source

Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) Overview

Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, or warm air convectors and hot water in your home or place of business.

An air source heat pump extracts heat from the outside air in the same way that a fridge extracts heat from its inside. It can get heat from the air even when the temperature is as low as -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.

The benefits of air source heat pumps

  • Air source heat pumps (also known as ASHPs):
  • Could lower your fuel bills, especially if you are replacing conventional electric heating
  • Could provide you with an income through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
  • Could lower your home’s carbon emissions, depending on which fuel you are replacing
  • Do not need fuel deliveries
  • Can heat your home and provide and hot water

Need little maintenance - they're called ‘fit and forget’ technology

Unlike gas and oil boilers, heat pumps deliver heat at lower temperatures over much longer periods. During the winter they may need to be on constantly to heat your home efficiently. You will also notice that radiators won't feel as hot to the touch as they might do when you are using a gas or oil boiler. 

How do air source heat pumps work?

Heat from the air is absorbed at low temperature into a fluid. This fluid then passes through a compressor where its temperature is increased, and transfers its higher temperature heat to the heating and hot water circuits of the house.

An air-to-water system distributes heat via your wet central heating system. Heat pumps work much more efficiently at a lower temperature than a standard boiler system would. So they are more suitable for underfloor heating systems or radiators, which give out heat at lower temperatures over longer periods of time.

To tell if an air source heat pump is right for you, there are a few key questions to consider:

  • Do you have somewhere to put it? You'll need a place outside your home 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 is ideal.
  • Is your home well insulated? Since 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 may not be the best option for homes using mains gas.
  • What type of heating system will you use? Air source heat pumps can perform better with underfloor heating systems or warm air heating than with 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.
  • Running costs will vary depending on a number of factors - including the size of your home, and how well insulated it is, and what room temperatures you are aiming to achieve.

Savings

How much you can save will depend on what system you use now, as well as what you are replacing it with. Your savings will be affected by:

  • Your heat distribution system
  • If you have the opportunity, underfloor heating can be more efficient than radiators because the water doesn’t need to be so hot. If underfloor heating isn’t possible, use the largest radiators you can. GYH will be able to advise on this.
  • Your fuel costs 
  • You will still have to pay fuel bills with a heat pump because it is powered by electricity, but you will save on the fuel you are replacing. If the fuel you are replacing is expensive you are more likely to make a saving.
    Your old heating system:
  • If your old heating system was inefficient, you are more likely to see lower running costs with a new heat pump.

Using the controls

GYH will teach you how to control the system so you can get the most out of it. You will probably need to set the heating to come on for longer hours, but you may be able to set the thermostat lower and still feel comfortable. As a result, saving money on your bills.

Earnings

You may be able to receive payments for the heat you generate using a heat pump through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Read more on the RHI here...

You may also be eligible to get help with the installation costs of a new air source heat pump through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme. Read more about the scheme here...

Green Deal finance and renewables

This technology is an eligible measure under the UK government’s Green Deal which is a financing mechanism that lets people pay for energy-efficiency improvements through savings on their energy bills. Read more about the Green Deal here...

Maintenance

GYH will leave written details of any maintenance checks you should undertake to ensure everything is working properly. GYH will specifies the maintenence requirements to you. One of the yearly checks that you are likely to be advised to carry out is to check that the air inlet grill and evaporator are free of leaves or other debris. Any plants that have started to grow near the heat pump unit will also need to be removed.

You may also be advised by GYH to check the central heating pressure gauge in your house from time to time. If so, we will show you how to do this. To prevent the heat pump from freezing in cold winter weather anti-freeze is used. Levels of anti-freeze and its concentration is one of the things that a we will check when we come to service your heat pump.

Planning permission

In England installing an Air Source heat pumps may be considered Permitted Development, this is only if an assesment is carried out and eveything complies to MCS. In which case you will not need planning permission, but the criteria are complex so GYH will ask for you to provide proof from your local authority as this is the safest option.

In England from 1st December 2011, domestic air source heat pump systems will be classed as Permitted Development provided that they comply with certain criteria, including:

  • there is no wind turbine at the property
  • the external unit is less than 0.6 m3 in size
  • the unit is more than one metre from the edge of the householder's property
  • it is not on a pitched roof, or near the edge of a flat roof
  • it meets additional criteria if in a conservation area, World Heritage Site or similar.
  • This list is not comprehensive. Read the full legislation at the government's legislation website or contact your local planning office for full details.



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