You can improve the way in which your home is heated, just by making some subtle adjustments…
Why air source heat pumps are not the future
If you are environmentally conscious, then you are probably interested in shifting your heating system to a source of renewable energy. With that in mind, you have probably heard of air source heat pumps, which in theory, lead to cheaper bills. However, sometimes these green technologies cannot always deliver what they offer. Therefore, before purchasing one, it is important to think critically about, whether you are likely to benefit from having an air source heat pump.
What is an air source heat pump?
An air source heat pump is a form of renewable energy technology, which works by taking the heat from the outside air to increase the temperature inside your home.
In a visual sense, air source heat pumps are like air conditioning units. To install one of the box-shaped units, they tend to be fitted on the side of a property. The size of the air source heat pump is dependent on how much heat they need to generate for your home.
How does an air source heat pump work?
There are two types, when considering air source heat pumps. Firstly, there are air-to-water heat pumps, which work in a similar fashion to a fridge, just in reverse. The heat from the outside air is blown over a series of tubes that all contain a liquid refrigerant.
In the next stage, the heated refrigerant passes through a compressor, which further increases the pressure and heat. Once compressed, the liquid moves into a heat exchanger, which is powered by an internal pump. Finally, the heated liquid releases its stored heat and can be transferred around the home throughout the traditional heating systems such as radiators and underfloor heating.
Air-to-air heat pumps work by taking heat from the outside air and transferring it into your home through a network of fans. For the heat to move around your home effectively, you need a warm air circulation system, while, unlike air-to-water heat pumps, this method is not eligible for the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive payments.
For either type to work to its maximum efficiency, it is essential that your home is properly insulated. Otherwise, the heat will fail to stay contained within your property, meaning a consistent temperature will not be established.
How much does an air source heat pump cost?
When observing the price of an air source heat pump, there are three areas of cost to pay attention to. Firstly, you must contend with the price of the air source heat pump itself. For a good one, you can expect to pay in the region of £4,000 to £5,000. Although this is not much more than some high-quality boilers, the installation part is when the air source heat pump can get pricey. Depending on the complexity of the job, existing infrastructure and the size of the property, the installation can cost between £3,000 to £10,000.
While the running costs of your air source heat pump are marketed to be cheaper than other heating systems. The potential running costs largely depend on several factors. These include the efficiency rating of the heat pump, the temperature of the air outside, the level of demand for central heating and how well the property is insulated.
Through yet another government scheme, the Renewable Heat Incentive, you can receive numerous payments over a seven-year period. This has been put in place to encourage people to transition to renewable energy systems, in a bid to achieve zero emissions by 2050. Although you are technically getting money off, you are still stuck with the bulk of the cost, along with an inconsistent heating system for the foreseeable future.
What are the disadvantages of an air source heat pump?
While the renewable side of air source heat pumps makes them seem like an attractive option, they come with several disadvantages which could potentially stop them from becoming the future of home heating systems.
Since, homeowners have long been accustomed to other heating methods, like gas, they expect a certain level of heat, that air source heat pumps simply cannot fulfil.
While the overall heat from air source heat pumps is lower, they can provide a relatively consistent temperature. Although, this consistency is lost when trying to heat houses that are not well insulated.
Cold weather efficiency
In the winter, air source heat pumps have a limited heat supply, making them less efficient. This is because the lower the temperature is outside, the harder your air source heat pump must work. This, in turn, makes the system less cost-effective.
Paired with the fact that you rarely need heating in the summer, the idea to transfer from gas to an air source heat pump becomes even more redundant.
The topic of insulation is a recurring issue when you investigate the disadvantages of air source heat pumps. Simply put, if you install an air source heat pump, without having the necessary insulation, then you must spend even more money to properly insulate your home.
For a start, most people simply cannot afford the initial cost of an air source heat pump. Also, while the running costs of the unit appear to be affordable, you are still relying on an inefficient, heating system to make the money back on your investment.
Like air conditioning units, air source heat pumps tend to be noisy. Although this might not bother you, your neighbours will not necessarily think the same way.
To avoid further disagreement with a neighbour, you might have to move your air source heat pump to a quieter area. This factor could be another financial expense for you, as a professional is needed to relocate it.
Unless you can generate electricity using another method of renewable energy, like solar panels, then you cannot go completely off-grid, as air source heat pumps still require some electricity to run.
Most people do not need planning permission to install an air source heat pump, however, there are some regulations that could disrupt your installation process. These include making sure it is only used for heating while installing it on a suitable surface, at least a metre from the boundary of your home.
As the condensers blow out cold air, it is recommended that you keep BBQs and garden furniture away from the unit, placing another limitation on where you can fit an air source heat pump.
Unlike traditional heating systems, air source heat pumps cannot be hidden away in a cupboard. Instead, the air conditioning styled unit will be situated more visibly outside in the garden, or on the side of the property.
Homeowners are still able to get a FREE boiler grant or insulation grant via the ECO scheme, which is still available to households that qualify. Warma UK are currently working throughout the UK helping privately owned and rented homes to improve home energy efficiency and save money on rising energy bills.
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