Are you looking for a way to reduce your energy bills? If so, you may want to consider an air source heat pump. This type of heating system extracts heat from the outside air and uses it to heat your home. They are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, as they offer a number of benefits over traditional heating systems.
But why choose an air source heat pump? And what are the main pros and cons?
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about air source heat pumps including how they work, their advantages and how you may be able to get government help with the cost of buying one.
What are Air Source Heat Pumps?
Air source heat pumps are modern heating systems that extract air from the outside and use it to heat the inside of a home or building. They have a fan that sucks air in from outside which is then blown over refrigerant filled tubes. This refrigerant is warmed by the air and is then further heated before being compressed into a gas. This gas is then used to heat water which is then pumped into your radiators or underfloor heating system in order to heat your home.
This process is very efficient because it uses the free energy from the air to heat your home and the only energy input required is the electricity that the pump requires to operate. As long as this electricity is produced in an environmentally friendly way, an air source heat pump can be a very efficient way to heat your home.
The Pros and Cons of Air Source Heat Pumps
There are a number of advantages to installing an air source heat pump:
- They are a more environmentally-friendly option than traditional heating systems – Air source heat pumps use electricity to extract heat from the outside air. Depending on how that electricity is produced, such as through solar or wind energy, they are potentially many times more environmentally friendly.
- They are cheaper to run than alternative methods – Air source heat pumps can be up to 50% cheaper to run than gas boilers, depending on your energy tariff.
- They are eligible for the government’s EC04 Schemes – If you are replacing an older gas boiler with an air source heat pump, you may be able to claim money back from the government. More information on this scheme can be found later in this article.
- They are suitable for all types of homes – Air source heat pumps are suitable for all types of properties, from apartments to large houses.
- They take up less space than traditional heating systems – Air source heat pumps are smaller than traditional heating systems and can be installed in a variety of places.
- They work even when it’s cold outside – Air source heat pumps can still extract heat from the air when it is cold outside, meaning you will still be able to heat your home even in the winter.
- They are more expensive to install than traditional heating systems – Air source heat pumps can be more expensive to install than traditional heating systems. However, this cost may be offset by the money you save on your energy bills or that you receive through a government scheme.
- They don’t work as well when it’s too cold outside – Efficiency can drop when the temperature falls below a certain point, meaning you may need to use other forms of heating alongside your air source heat pump in the winter.
- They are not suitable for properties without mains electricity – Air source heat pumps require mains electricity to function, so they are not suitable for properties that do not have access to it.
The Differences between an Air Source Heat Pump and a Gas Boiler
An air-source heat pump and a gas boiler both provide heat for your home, but they work in different ways:
- Air source heat pumps extract warmth from the outside air and use it to heat your home. A gas boiler, on the other hand, uses gas to create heat which is then circulated around your home by the boiler.
- They are more environmentally friendly than gas boilers as they don’t produce any harmful CO2 or other emissions.
- They are also cheaper to run than gas boilers but are usually more expensive to purchase and install.
- Boilers produce heat more quickly but air source heat pumps are more efficient in the long run because less heat energy is lost during the process.
How Much Space do You Need for an Air Source Heat Pump?
Air source heat pumps take up less space than traditional heating systems and can be installed in a variety of places. Generally speaking, you will need around two square metres of outside space for the box containing the fan and compressor but this will depend on the size and type of pump you get.
You will also need space inside your home for the water cylinder, control box and maybe an additional buffer tank. Most homes should comfortably be able to accommodate all of these items, but it is worth checking with your installer to make sure.
How Much Will an Air Source Heat Pump Cost?
Again, the cost of air source heat pumps varies depending on the type and size of the pump. However, as a general guide, you can expect to pay around £8,000 to £16,000 for a pump in a new building and up to £28,000 to replace an existing heating system (this price will include replacing the radiators and plumbing too.) In comparison, a new gas boiler will only cost around £1,000 to £2,000 including installation.
How Much Will an Air Source Heat Pump Save on Energy Bills?
With these significant extra costs, it is important to understand how much money an air source heat pump can save on your energy bills. These savings will depend on a number of factors, such as the size and type of pump, the age of your property and how well insulated it is. However, in general, you can expect to save a significant amount on your energy, with some experts even claiming savings of up to 52%.
The Government’s EC04 Boiler Upgrade Scheme
The EC04 Scheme is run by the government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and provides grants to help homeowners pay for more environmentally-friendly heating systems. The scheme is available to all households in England, Scotland and Wales and is open to both homeowners and private tenants.
If you are replacing an older gas boiler with an air source heat pump, you may be able to claim money through the EC04 Scheme. This is designed to incentivise the switch to more environmentally-friendly heating systems. As air source heat pumps are considered a more sustainable option than gas boilers, you may be eligible for a heat pump grant of up to £5,000.
Who is Eligible for the EC04 Scheme?
There are a few factors that will determine whether you are eligible for the EC04 Scheme:
- Your household income
- Whether you receive any other state benefits
- The age of your boiler
- The type of air-source heat pump you are installing
- The size of your home
When are Gas Boilers Being Phased Out?
The government has announced that from 2025, all new homes will be banned from having a gas boiler so if you are planning to build or renovate a home in the near future, you will need to consider other forms of heating.
This step is being taken as part of the government’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. While air-source heat pumps are not the only form of renewable energy, they are one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to heat homes so it is likely that they will play a major role in achieving this goal.
How to Claim Money from the EC04 Scheme
If you are eligible for the EC04 Scheme, it is a relatively simple three-step process:
- Your Eligibility is Checked – Your installer will check your eligibility for the scheme and if you are eligible, they will apply for the grant on your behalf.
- You Receive a Grant – If your application is successful, you will receive a grant to help pay for your air source heat pump.
- Your Boiler is Replaced – The old boiler is removed and replaced with the new air source heat pump.
What Other Help is Available through EC0?
As well as help paying for air source heat pumps, there are other energy schemes that you could receive money for. These include:
- Home Insulation – If your home is not well insulated, you may be able to claim money through the ECO Scheme to have it insulated. This is because a properly insulated home will be more energy-efficient and will require less heating, which will in turn reduce your energy bills.
- Double Glazing – You can also receive money for having the double glazing installed in your home. This will help to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, further reducing your energy usage and bills.
- Renewable Energy – If you install renewable energy sources such as solar panels or a wind turbine, you may also be able to claim money through the ECO Scheme. This is because these forms of renewable energy are more environmentally-friendly and will help to reduce your carbon emissions.
Tips for Reducing Energy Use and Bills
UK energy bills shot up to unprecedented highs on April 1st 2022 and with further increases due in October, many people are really feeling the pinch. However, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your energy use and save money on your bills.
Some simple tips include:
- Turning off appliances when they are not in use – This includes TVs, computers, printers, and other electronics. You may be surprised how much energy these appliances use when they are left on standby.
- Installing a smart meter – A smart meter will help you to track your energy usage in real-time, so you can see where you are using the most energy and make changes to save money.
- Replacing lightbulbs with LED bulbs – LED bulbs to use up to 90% less energy than traditional lightbulbs and last up to 25 times longer.
- Insulating your home – This will help to keep the heat in during winter and the cool in during summer, reducing your energy usage and bills.
- Wrapping up warm in the winter – Wear a thick jumper, put on a scarf and hat or wrap yourself up in your duvet. This may not be a long-term solution to the UK energy bill crisis, but it will help to keep you warm this winter.
In conclusion, weighing up all the pros and cons, there are many reasons why you should choose an air source heat pump for your home’s central heating system. They are a more environmentally-friendly option than gas boilers, they help to reduce energy bills, and they come with a range of financial incentives through the ECO Scheme. If you are eligible, make sure you take advantage of this scheme and upgrade to an air source heat pump today!
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