Are you considering renewable energy for your home? If so, you may have looked at solar PV to generate electricity or solar thermal panels to heat your water. But have you considered the benefits of an air source heat pump? It may be that your home is not suitable for solar due to its position (too shady) or the roof cannot support the panels. In these cases, an air source heat pump may be the right choice to heat your home if you are keen on using green energy.
How Does an Air Source Heat Pump Work?
The technology works like a refrigerator. A fridge extracts heat from inside and pumps it out to keep the food inside cool. An air source heat pump does the opposite. It extracts heat from outside and pumps it inside your home. Just like a fridge, it runs on electricity but it produces more energy than it uses so is energy efficient particularly if you currently use electric heaters to provide warmth for your home.
The pump can work at low temperatures and there is a never ending supply of heat to extract from the air. It is usually positioned on a sunny outside wall to work most efficiently.
Why Choose an Air Source Heat Pump?
Here’s why people choose to install air source heat pumps for their homes:
- Running costs are low
The cost of running an air source heat pump to heat your home is much less than the cost of doing so using oil, LPG, or conventional electric heating. Using an air source heat pump can save you up to £600 a year on energy costs. It may not make as much sense financially to install one if you have gas central heating but for people not on mains gas, this technology can save you money on your heating bills.
- It requires little or no maintenance
Compared to some other renewable technologies, this is a real benefit.
- It earns you money
You might be eligible to apply for the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI). Over 7 years you will receive a payment of 7.3p/kWh of renewable heat generated. There’s a helpful calculator here that can help work out what you will likely receive in repayment from the scheme.
- It reduces your carbon footprint
Compared to other forms of heat generated from fossil fuels like oil and LPG, an air source heat pump has a low carbon footprint as it uses a natural source of renewable energy– the air. It uses electricity to operate so unless the electricity is generated via a renewable source (e.g. wind power or solar PV) then the air source heat pump does contribute to CO2 emissions. However, compared to old electric storage heaters, you may be saving between 5-10 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
- You can heat space and hot water
The energy generated can heat your home and also hot water which can be stored in a tank and used when required.
What’s there not to like?
Just like every technology, there are some disadvantages to installing an air source heat pump:
- The heat generated is not as intense as that from a gas boiler so it is ideal for underfloor heating but not as attractive for heating conventional radiators.
- In the winter, the pump may need to be on constantly to ensure that there is a constant supply of heat. The heat builds up slowly so turning it off and on will not be suitable if you want a nice ambient temperature.
- Insulation is very important for your home if you are using a low water temperature source for heating so that all the heat is retained and not lost.
Air Source Heat Pumps in a Scottish Climate
Lots of people have installed an air source heat pump and have enjoyed its benefits. I have one installed at my home and can vouch for the savings on my heating bills as well as the generous incentives through the RHI. In Scotland, where the temperature is lower, the air source heat pump continues to work hard at extracting any heat from the air. The average maximum temperatures in Scotland vary between 5°C in winter and 20°C-25°C in summer. The pump can work at low temperatures of -15° C so is ideal for Scotland’s climate throughout the year.
Get in touch if you would like to find out if this technology is suitable for your home.Last updated: March 3rd, 2015