What is an air source heat pump?
An air source heat pump, sometimes referred to as an air-to-water heat pump, transfers heat from external air to water, which is then used for heating your rooms through radiators or underfloor heating. It can also heat water stored in a hot water cylinder for taps, showers, and baths.
The heat from the air is absorbed into a fluid. This fluid then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump, which raises the temperature and transfers the heat to the water.
For more information on how heat pumps work, including details on typical energy savings, system design, and controls, please refer to our comprehensive heat pump guide.
Is an air source heat pump suitable for me?
Air source heat pumps are suitable for various types of homes and are the most common type of domestic heat pump, with tens of thousands installed in the UK. However, there are considerations you should take into account before determining if a heat pump is suitable for you.
Do you have a place for it?
You’ll need a location outside your home where the equipment can be wall-mounted or placed on the ground. There must be some space around it for good air circulation.
Air source heat pumps come in two types: integrated systems and split systems. Integrated systems incorporate all components in one outdoor unit and deliver water through pipes to the central heating system and the hot water cylinder inside the home. Split systems separate components between an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. Whether an integrated or split system is suitable for you will depend on your budget and available space.
Integrated systems are generally cheaper, quicker to install, and take up less space in your home, although they typically have slightly lower efficiency than split systems. The efficiency gain of split systems comes from some heat transfer occurring in warmer parts of the building, reducing heat loss.
If space isn’t a constraint in your home, the extra cost of installing a split system might be worthwhile. Your installer should be able to walk you through your options and help you choose the design that best suits your needs.
How loud is the heat pump?
The external unit of the heat pump is the same for both integrated and split heat pump systems. Noise is generated by the large fan as it moves air over the heat exchanger.
Unless the heat pump is working exceptionally hard (i.e., in very cold weather or producing high-temperature water), you can expect the noise to be similar to the volume of a refrigerator if you’re standing a few meters away. You can have a normal conversation easily beside it without raising your voice. As the outside temperature drops, the operational noise increases but still allows for easy conversation with a slightly raised voice.
The internal unit of the split system contains only valves and pumps, resulting in minimal noise.
How will you heat the rooms in your home?
Most homes in the UK use radiators or underfloor heating to circulate hot water.
If you currently don’t have radiators or underfloor heating, you’ll need to decide whether to install them. This is an excellent opportunity to optimize the system for the heat pump, reducing operational costs.
You can find more information about the impact of radiators and underfloor heating on heat pump design here.
Don’t want or can’t install radiators or underfloor heating? An air-to-air heat pump could work for you.
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Do you have a hot water cylinder?
Standard heat pumps can’t provide hot water on demand like combi boilers, so you’ll need a way to store hot water for use when needed. The size of the required hot water cylinder depends on your household’s typical hot water usage, but it typically fits in a cupboard measuring about 80x80cm.
If you don’t have space for a hot water cylinder, you still have other options. Some hybrid system designs offer a heat pump for heating and a boiler for on-demand hot water. You might also consider installing a thermal store, which takes up less space than a hot water cylinder. Instantaneous water heaters can also be installed under the kitchen sink to provide a small amount of hot water.
How much does an air source heat pump cost?
The cost of an air source heat pump depends on the size of the pump, the size of the property, whether it’s a new build or an existing property, and whether you need to alter the heating infrastructure around the property. The general cost is around £14,000, and we recommend contacting at least three installers to provide quotes for your heat pump system so you can get the best understanding of potential costs for your home.
Can a heat pump save me money on my electricity bill?
The operational cost depends on the heat pump’s design and operation. The amount of electricity bill savings also depends on the system you’re replacing.
For more information, please refer to our in-depth guide on how to make the most of your heat pump and maximize cost savings.
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