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A Guid To Air Source Heat Pumps

A quick guide to heat pumps…

What are the benefits of heat pumps? How much money could they save you?

The benefits of a heat pump are considerable especially in the current economic climate. With oil pricing sitting at around 59p per litre and LPG sitting at around 40p per litre, many consumers can be looking at cost savings of 40% off their current fuel pricing by switching to an air source heat pump. For example, a consumer paying around £1500 per annum to heat their property with oil could be looking at closer to £900 a year to heat the same property with a heat pump.

On top of the real monetary savings, there is a serious saving in time and inconvenience when moving from an oil / LPG system to a heat pump. As a heat pump is powered by electricity, there is no requirement for the fuel to be stored or “topped up”, this means, unless there is a power cut (which will affect all but wood burning stoves) your heating will be consistent and reliable.

As there is no storage of fuel, there is also no risk of theft.

If saving the environment is on your agenda, the Co2 savings are significant. All traditional forms of heating a property emit much more Co2 than a heat pump. Below are the kind of reductions you can be looking at in your carbon footprint by moving from fossil fuel to a good quality heat pump.

Oil: 53% Reduction

LPG: 42% Reduction

Gas: 36% Reduction

Coal: 64% Reduction

How much do they cost?

A heat pump install on average is around £10k. To help ease the pain associated with the capital expenditure, the government have put in the place the world’s first Renewable Heat Incentive. This incentive rewards adopters of this established technology to the tune of up to £1,500 per year for 7 years (£10,500 in total). So not only will the government pay for potentially the entire supply and install cost of the equipment, the consumer will also benefit from day one by reducing their heating costs and their carbon footprint in one fell swoop. Further to this, a new initiative has also been launched called the assignment of rights. In a nutshell, the AoR will enable an investor to pay for a consumers new energy efficient heating system, and in return the investor will receive the RHI from the government. The consumer benefits from reduced costs and lower Co2 from day one while the investor receives the Renewable Heat Incentive in return.

On top of the above, there are also local initiatives and schemes in place all over the country to assist with the costs associated with this equipment.


How do you install them?

Installation is extremely straightforward with the correct training and support. We would always recommend that a trained plumbing and heating engineer tackle this type of installation. The qualifications required to install a monobloc system [split refrigerant systems are a little different and will require the part time work of an air con engineer] are no more so than a plumbing and heating engineer would ordinarily have for installing a boiler. It is always recommended that an installer who is new to this type of equipment attends manufacturer training. Good manufacturer training will not only train an engineer on how to install a heat pump, but also answer questions specific to installing heat pumps in a variety of different locations. In order for the consumer to receive any grants or incentives, it is almost always a prerequisite that the installer and equipment are MCS accredited.

How do they work?

The easiest way to explain a heat pump is in 3 steps:

  1. It looks like an air conditioning unitthe chassis or cabinet that will sit outside the property is the same style and in many cases the same colour as an air conditioning unit. These cases can however be covered by specific wooden enclosures or have the panel colours changed to match the window or door frames in a bid to blend the unit in.
  2. It acts like a boilerjust like a boiler it will deliver heated water throughout the pipework in a property. A heat pump works at a slightly lower flow temperature than a boiler, so may require slightly larger radiators (or underfloor heating if part of a larger renovation). And just like many boilers, the domestic hot water will come from a cylinder in order to make sure there is plenty of stored hot water for the entire house.
  3. It works like a fridgeA heat pump works just like a fridge in that it takes energy from one place, and transfers or moves it to another place… If you place your hand (carefully) on to the coil at the back of the fridge you will notice that it’s warm, while the fridge box itself internally is cold (or freezing in the case of the freezer). This is because (through the 100+ year old vapor compression cycle) energy has been taken from inside the fridge and exported out the back in to the kitchen through the coil. An air source heat pump works just the same, except we take low grade, or unusable, energy from the garden, and turn that into high grade, or usable, energy to run through the pipes, radiators and hot water cylinder inside the property.