Air Source Heat Pumps

By Katie Anderson on August 2nd, 2011

Operating in conjunction with a home’s existing heating system, air source heat pumps work by absorbing heat from the outside air.

Capable of extracting heat from the air even when the temperature outside is as low as minus 15° C, heat pumps can deliver heat at lower temperatures over much longer periods, unlike traditional gas or oil boilers.

There are two main types of air source heat pumps, air-to-water and air-to-air systems:

Air-to-water – these types of systems work with your wet central heating system and are particularly good for underfloor heating systems or larger radiators, due to the low heat released over long periods.

Air-to-air – these types of heat pumps produce warm air which is circulated through your home by fans.

How do air source heat pumps work?

1. The heat pumps absorb heat from the air into a fluid.

2. The fluid is pumped through a heat exchanger in the heat pump.

3. The system’s refrigeration system extracts low grade heat.

4. Once it passes through the heat pump compressor, it is concentrated into a higher temperature, which can be used to heat water and your home’s hot water circuits.

Would an air source heat pump be viable for my home?

If you’re interested in installing an air source heat pump, there’s a few points worth considering, including:

  • Given that air source heat pumps work best when producing heat at a lower temperature, your home needs to be well insulated for the heating system to be most effective.
  • Due to the lower water temperatures required, air source heat pumps perform better with underfloor heating systems compared to radiator-based systems, so you’ll need to take into consideration what type of heating system you’ll be using.
  • Air source heating systems can be placed on the ground or, ideally, fitted to a sunny wall. The unit will also need plenty of space around it to get a good flow of air.
  • Heat pumps are more financially viable if they are replacing an electricity or coal heating system.

Costs and savings

The installation of a typical air source heating system can range between £6,000 to £10,000 for a detached home.

The amount of money you can save by installing a heat pump system depends on a variety of factors, including fuel prices and what sort of system you are using to distribute heat. Things like temperature setting and learning how to use the system’s controls effectively will also factor in to the savings you can achieve.

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