Is it worth getting an air source heat pump?

Is it worth getting an air source heat pump?
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    Energy efficiency is a subject on many home and business owner’s minds at the moment, what with the alarming rise in fuel costs and the ever-growing focus on renewable energy and cutting carbon emissions.

    It has got many people thinking about alternatives and asking, ‘are air source heat pumps worth it?’.

    An air source heat pump is far more energy efficient than a gas or electric storage heating system and can save you money on energy bills. As a renewable energy source, it will also significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Thanks to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, now’s a good time to make the switch.

    If you researching air source heat pumps, read on to find out the type of saving you can make on your energy bills and the details of what grants may be available to you.

    If you have further questions about whether an air source heat pump is right for your home or business, please get in touch with the friendly experts at Cinergi.

    ARE AIR SOURCE HEAT PUMPS MORE EFFICIENT THAN GAS BOILERS?

    The answer is a resounding YES. An air source heat pump is around 3-4 times more efficient than most conventional heating systems.

    That is because an air-to-water heat pump doesn’t have to burn fuel to generate energy. Instead, it takes the outside air and converts it into warm air to produce hot water.

    For every unit it takes from the air, in generates around 3 units of heat.

    This can result in significant savings when you switch from a gas boiler – more on which is explained below.

    HOW MUCH CAN A HEAT PUMP REDUCE MY CARBON OUTPUT BY?

    A heat pump uses around 20% less CO2 than a gas boiler. So, switching from your gas boiler to a heat pump could potentially save 20,000 tonnes of carbon over 10 years!

    Even more significantly, a heat pump system uses 70% less CO2 than electric heating systems. So if lowering your carbon emissions is a priority, a heat pump is the renewable energy source for you.

    A heat pump is not entirely carbon neutral of course, as it needs electricity to work. So the total reduction in your carbon footprint depends on the green credentials of your electricity provider.

    HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR AN AIR SOURCE HEAT PUMP TO PAY FOR ITSELF?

    Air source heat pumps undoubtedly pay for themselves over time. How long depends on which type of heating system it is replacing and the cost of the heat pump system you choose.

    The cost of installing an air source heat pump can be anything in the region of £10,000 – £15,000, depending on the capacity of the heat pump and the size of the property.

    The Energy Saving Trust has some very useful and up-to-date figures on the savings to be made on energy bills, depending on the type of heating system you have.

    Based on those figures, here’s a quick example for an average three-bed detached home:

    Replacing G-rated gas boiler

    • Cost of air source heat pump installation = £12,500
    • Successful BUS application = (£7,500)
    • Average annual energy bill saving (as of October 2022) = £395
    • £5,000/£395 = 12.65 years

    Replacing old electric storage heaters

    • Cost of air source heat pump installation = £17,500
    • Successful BUS application = (£7,500)
    • Average annual energy bill saving* = £1,500
    • £10,000/£1,500 = 6.6 years

    *based on the energy price cap for April 2022

    These are rough estimations of course, and the saving depends on your energy tariff and whether you have a well-insulated home.

    Other variables that may increase the initial cost are the installation of larger radiators, a larger water tank or underfloor heating if required.

    A heat pump can also be combined with other renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, which may reduce your energy bills further.

    Another thing to factor into your calculations is the saving on maintenance costs. A gas boiler requires an annual service, whereas a heat pump usually only requires servicing every 2-3 years.

    There are some cases where a heat pump may make a smaller saving or none at all. For example, the savings on replacing an older LPG or oil boiler aren’t as significant as savings on natural gas boilers.

    As a rule of thumb, if your gas tariff costs more than 25% of your electricity tariff, then a heat pump will be cheaper to run.

    To get an accurate estimate of how much you can save on your energy bills, consult a trusted MCS installer, such as Cinergi, to provide a quote.

    TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE BOILER UPGRADE SCHEME

    The government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) launched in April 2022 and offers £7,500 towards the installation of an air source heat pump to eligible property owners.

    To qualify, you must live in England or Wales and own your property. This includes landlords and second-home owners.

    The grant is obtained through your supplier, who must be a certified MCS installer, such as Cinergi. For full details on who is eligible and the full terms and conditions, see gov.uk.

    WHAT GOVERNMENT FUNDING IS AVAILABLE?

    The Green Deal and The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (DRHI) are now closed and have been replaced by the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). The BUS provides grants of up to £7,500 to incentivise eligible homeowners to replace fossil fuel heating with low-carbon alternatives, including heat pumps and biomass boilers. 

    Renewable heating systems commissioned on or after 1 April 2022 may be eligible. The closing date for applications is 31 December 2027. See if you are eligible for a BUS grant here.

    WHAT CAN AN AIR SOURCE HEAT PUMP DO THAT A BOILER CAN’T?

    While we don’t regularly enjoy 30°+ heat in good old Blighty, it’s good to know that during those few uncomfortably hot days in summer, air source heat pumps can actually cool your home as an air conditioning unit would.

    This is a major additional benefit, as our summers are predicted to continue to scorch.

    CONCLUSION – ARE HEAT PUMPS WORTH IT?

    Switching from a gas boiler to an air source heat pump system can significantly reduce your energy bill. It will also reduce your carbon footprint by as much as 20%.

    The value of the saving depends on the size of your property and the type of heat pump model you choose.

    The government is currently offering a renewable heat incentive in the form of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which offers eligible homeowners £5,000 off of the installation of air source heat pumps. What with rapidly increasing energy costs, it is a good opportunity to make the switch.

    TALK TO CINERGI ABOUT AIR SOURCE HEAT PUMPS FOR YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS

    Cinergi is a team of highly-accredited engineers with both domestic and commercial energy experience spanning 40 years.

    Our customers rate us for our quality workmanship, honest approach and exceptional service.

    We are trusted local installers of air source heat pumps in Hampshire and all along the South Coast.

    We are not tied to any one supplier, so we can give you impartial, honest advice on a range of heat pump systems available and advise which one is right for you.To answer any further questions you may have, or to arrange a quote, please contact us.

    FAQs

    Do air source heat pumps work when it’s cold?

    Yes, air source heat pumps are very reliable in temperatures way below freezing, sometimes as low as 25°. They are indeed less energy efficient in lower temperatures, as it takes more energy to heat the liquid refrigerant.

    But, considering the overall cost saving through the year, air source heat pumps are generally still much more energy efficient than conventional heating for homes in the UK.

    Are air source heat pumps expensive?

    Installation can cost anywhere between £7,000-£15,000 on average, but that depends on the type and size of heat pump required. The time it takes to pay for itself depends on variables such as your energy tariff and what type of heating system it is replacing.

    Does an air source heat pump provide hot water?

    This depends on which type of heat pump you install, as there are two different types – air-to-air heat pumps and air-to-water heat pumps. Air-to-water heat pumps (most commonly used in the UK), provide hot water to taps and radiators, whereas air-to-air heat pumps only provide warm air heating, not hot water.

    An air-to-water heating system is very efficient and reliable. However, it is true that an air-to-water heat pump produces hot water at a lower temperature than a gas boiler, so you may need to install larger radiators to achieve the desired level of heat in your home.

    Which is more efficient, an air source heat pump or a ground source heat pump?

    Generally, a ground source heat pump offers greater efficiency and savings, but the upfront installation costs are greater than air source heat pumps. The installation of a ground source heat pump is far more intrusive, however, as it requires the area around your property to be excavated.

    For more FAQs and technical information, please see our website.

    Picture of Dan Loveridge
    Dan Loveridge

    Dan is the managing director at Cinergi, a renewable energy company based in southern England specialising in air source heat pumps and EV charging solutions.

    Contact us to ask for advice