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Air Source Heat Pump Servicing Cost In UK
Air source heat pumps transfer heat from the surrounding air into your home. They work using a refrigerant, similar to a reverse-operating refrigerator. This transfer only requires enough electricity to power the compressor and fan.
With the upcoming ban on gas boilers, it’s worth considering the best alternatives available in the market, especially when the government allows you to purchase them at discounted prices.
The average cost of installing an air source heat pump in the UK:
For a three-bedroom house, the average cost of an air source heat pump is £10,000.
If you want to extract heat from the ground, the cost is higher – typically £24,000 for horizontal ground-source heat pump installation and £49,000 for vertical borehole installation.
However, currently, you can purchase either of them at a lower price.
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme can reduce the cost of an air source heat pump by £5,000 and the cost of a ground-source heat pump by £6,000.
Additionally, due to a price war between British Gas and Octopus, you can currently buy an air source heat pump for as low as £2,500.
Considering that air source heat pumps typically save around £1,442 compared to gas boilers over 20 years, the math heavily favors air source heat pumps.
Heat Pump Installation Costs
For horizontal installation, the average cost of purchasing and installing an air source heat pump is £10,000, while a ground-source heat pump typically costs £24,000.
If you don’t have the space for a ground-loop installation, you can opt for a borehole in your garden, which unfortunately costs even more. The average cost of vertical installation is £49,000.
Ground-source heat pumps are much more expensive than air source heat pumps because the installation process is longer, more complex, and requires more specialized equipment.
Whether you use an air source heat pump or a ground-source heat pump, you may also need to install underfloor heating, better insulation, and/or larger radiators to fully utilize the capabilities of the new system.
You may not need to replace all radiators, but most households should replace about one-third of them with radiators that are 2.5 sizes larger than standard.
This is because heat pumps release heat over a longer period, unlike gas boilers.
Their slow-release nature is one of the key reasons they are more energy-efficient, but it means your heating equipment needs a larger surface area or insulation to retain the heat generated by the heat pump.
Average Heat Pump Repair Costs in the UK
In the UK, the average cost of repairing a heat pump is around £150 (plus VAT). However, many people may avoid paying this fee if their air source heat pump appears to be working fine. Nevertheless, this might be a requirement depending on how you funded the installation.
By using the new (as of April 2022) UK government Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) £5,000 grant managed by Ofgem, you agree to have the heat pump regularly serviced by a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) engineer. The BUS encourages the installation of low-carbon heating to help the UK become a net-zero carbon emission country by 2050.
This quick guide discusses the maintenance requirements of air source heat pumps and answers questions raised by those considering installing heat pumps.
How much are ASHP repair costs?*
New air source heat pumps (ASHP) require regular maintenance to ensure efficient heat transfer into your home. And while it’s not an incentive measure, the £5,000 installation grant from the Boiler Upgrade Scheme requires maintenance following the manufacturer’s requirements.
Generally, the repair cost for a new ASHP for a standard household appliance is around £150, plus VAT.
Additionally, you will have to pay for any replacement parts discovered during the inspection. Also, consider the differences in labor costs across the country. Costs in areas like London and the southeast of England may be 10% to 15% higher than other places.
Despite an average installation cost ranging from £3,000 to £18,000 (£13,000 on average), ASHPs are far better than traditional boilers, and their service costs are much lower. Furthermore, maintenance engineers don’t need expensive qualifications to handle fossil fuels with potentially explosive characteristics.
Air Source Heat Pump Maintenance Steps
Routine ASHP service involves several steps to ensure the equipment operates efficiently:
- Ensure there are no obstructions and vegetation around the pump housing. Adequate airflow is essential for achieving maximum efficiency.
- Clear moss and leaves from the air filters and fan blades.
- Check the condition of the air filters and clean or replace them if necessary.
- Assess the condition of the fan, compressor, and all electrical connections.
- Check for refrigerant leaks.
- Ensure the compressor pump starts correctly.
- Evaluate the pump’s running time.
Benefits of Domestic Heat Pumps
Air source heat pumps have several advantages that appeal to UK households and encourage them to invest in the expensive installation:
- More affordable heating costs.
- Eligible households can receive a £5,000 grant from the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to subsidize
- ASHP installation costs.
- ASHPs require less maintenance compared to traditional boilers.
- Air source heat pumps don’t use fossil fuels like natural gas or oil to produce heat.
Although these devices require electricity to run the pump and fan, you can provide sufficient power through photovoltaic solar panels.Depending on the type of ASHP, they can heat air or water. Water heating ASHPs are better since they can provide both heating and hot water. In contrast, air heating units only provide heat, requiring an additional boiler for hot water.
The units do not emit hazardous emissions.
ASHPs work efficiently with underfloor heating systems and low-temperature radiators.
Operating costs of air source heat pumps are lower than traditional boilers, especially when compared to off-grid fossil fuels like electric heating or propane.
Unlike oil or gas boilers, air source heat pumps typically require maintenance intervals of three to five years.
Expected Lifespan of Heat Pumps
Like all things, maintaining your heat pump ensures a fruitful lifespan. Regular maintenance, keeping filters free of debris, and replacing parts when worn are the best ways to ensure a long-lasting filter. Additionally, unlike traditional boilers, ASHPs are not subject to gas corrosion, and your ASHP can easily last 20 to 25 years.
Furthermore, financial incentives under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme mandate regular maintenance. Finally, the reduced heating costs make their longer expected lifespan more appealing compared to traditional oil or gas boilers.
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6 Common Problems to Avoid with Air Source Heat Pumps
Don’t Forget About Servicing
Regularly maintain the pump, typically every three to five years or as recommended by the manufacturer. This simple operation ensures the reliability and longevity of the heat pump.
The quality of the heat pump and its associated piping installation contributes to its efficiency. If the heat pump’s repair is inadequate and uses poorly made replacement parts, you cannot expect the unit to perform to its full potential. Be sure to use qualified installation engineers registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Members use high-quality replacement parts and adhere to the scheme’s installation standards. Generally, you can find suitable MCS-certified renewable energy installers on the government-approved register of competent persons.
Poor System Design
Check if your system is tailored to your property, as poor design and inherent incompatibility of ASHP systems lead to most issues. Your ASHP central heating designer must accurately calculate your property’s heat loss, select the right-sized heat pump, and design an optimal heating distribution system (e.g., underfloor heating, radiators, etc.) for your property. This may also include improving the insulation of your property to comply with Building Regulations Part L requirements. If these tasks are not properly carried out, your system will operate inefficiently, and running costs will be higher than they should be.
Typically, ASHPs can operate at temperatures as low as -20°C. However, if the designer did not make the correct selection, the heat pump will capture minimal heat from the environment at such low temperatures, sometimes requiring a backup system. When using designers and installers registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, the system design will consider winter average temperatures, altitude, and prevailing winds. The heat pump should then meet all your heating and hot water needs.
Air source heat pumps include fans and compressors, which produce noise during normal operation. However, proper system design ensures that the unit complies with the permitted development rules for noise near neighboring windows, keeping it below 42dBA. This low level can be compared to noise in standard libraries.
Unit Siting Issues
Proper siting design ensures that your unit does not produce enough noise to disturb neighbors, blends with the surrounding environment, has sufficient air circulation but is not affected by prevailing winds.
Popularity of Heat Pumps in the UK
Air source heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, mainly due to the government offering financial incentives to homeowners. However, other reasons include:
- They do not rely on piped or delivered fuels.
- You can significantly reduce heating costs.
- ASHPs heat homes and provide hot water.
- Maintenance and upkeep frequency is lower compared to traditional fossil fuel boilers.
- Certain air source heat pumps offer cooling systems in the summer and heating in the winter for homes.
Disadvantages of Heat Pumps
Unfortunately, air source heat pumps do not solve all heating issues. Generally, they provide lower-temperature heat, so they perform well only in well-insulated homes. Additionally, they typically work better when combined with underfloor heating and low-temperature radiators. As such, if you live in an older, poorly insulated home with inadequate ventilation, you may not benefit from an ASHP.
Other disadvantages include:
ASHPs need to run for longer in colder months to produce the same heat output as traditional boilers. Furthermore, their efficiency drops as the available heat in the environment decreases.
For optimal benefit from ASHPs, you need a fully insulated home.
In colder months, air source heat pumps can sometimes generate noise.
Even with government subsidies, the average installation cost of around £13,000 is beyond the affordability of many.
You must conduct a whole-property energy assessment to determine the suitability of ASHPs.
The system design must consider insulation, airtightness, radiator size, and type for efficient operation.
System designers match your property and its location with specific heat pumps.
ASHPs require electricity to operate, which increases your electricity bill, though other heating costs will decrease.
The efficiency of heat pumps depends on the external and target temperature differentials. If this value is too small, efficiency will be affected.
If you can afford the upfront costs and your home is suitable, installing an air source heat pump can save you money in the long run. However, even with government grants, the installation of this heating method can still be costly. Therefore, certified maintenance engineers must keep the system running efficiently to ensure it is worth the investment.
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