Domestic Air Source Heat Pumps

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Last updated: 25 May 2016

An air source heat pump is a great investment if you own a well-insulated home and live off the main gas grid. They are also great for newly built homes as they can be integrated into underfloor heating systems. To get up to four tailored quotes on domestic air source heat pumps, simply fill in the form. It’s free and quick, and no obligation is necessary!

What is a domestic air source heat pump?

A domestic air source heat pump is a device that is fitted outside your home and transfers heat that has been extracted from the outside air indoors for heating during the winter and transfers heat from an indoor space outside during the summer months. Domestic air source heat pumps are a great way to provide you with an environmentally friendly and sustainable heating solution, bringing you enjoyed comfort when temperatures are a little bit unpleasant and not desirable and allowing you to have heating and hot water all year. They can be used on their own (all electric) or add on to an already existing system, such as a gas, oil or electric furnace. They are roughly the same size as an air conditioning unit.

A domestic air source heat pump is made up of four components:

  • An evaporator collects heat from outside air that is drawn into the heat pump unit by a fan that then circulates the air in doors.
  • In the compressor, the already heated vapour is compressed and changed to a higher temperature.
  • From the compressor, the hot vapour now is now transferred to a condenser that is surrounded by water from the heating system. This heat is then cooled by cooler water, allowing it to turn to a liquid state still using high pressure via the compressor.
  • The expansion device is where the liquid is passed through once the high pressure from the compressor has been released, allowing it to be returned to the evaporator. From this point, the whole cycle is able to restart.

Air source heat pumps are a function of three cycles:

  • The heating cycle extracts heat from the outdoor air and transfers it indoors via a pumping system.
  • One could also reverse the heating cycle when the outdoor temperatures are warmer, resulting in a cooling cycle being generated as the heat from the indoor air is expelled outdoors.
  • The defrosting cycle is important as if temperatures fall below 0°c whilst the heat pump is running during heating mode in the winter, the moisture that passes over the outer coil condenses and freezes. If there is a build up of frost on the heat pump, it lowers the efficiency of the air source heat pump, thus the defrost mode must be turned on. 

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What types of domestic air source heat pumps can I choose from?

There are two main types of air source heat pumps you can choose from for your home:

  • Air-to-air heat pumps work by producing warm air that is circulated by fans throughout your home to provide heat; however, this type of heat pump cannot be used to provide you with hot water.
  • Air-to-water heat pumps work by dispersing heat in your home via a wet central heating system and can be used for heating water, radiators, and underfloor heating systems. They work best at low temperatures.

How long does it take to install a domestic air source heat pump?

Installing a domestic air source heat pump is relatively straightforward with a trained professional who follows manufacturing guidelines.

  • If you already have conventional heating systems and are getting a domestic heat pump as an add-on to a natural gas, oil, or wood furnace – you want it installed on the downstream side.
  • For electric furnaces – they can be installed upstream to allow for greater efficiency.
  • The outdoor unit of the heat pump should be placed in a safe area, free of high winds and also open so there is no recirculation.
  • It should be placed on a stand so the likelihood of snow getting trapped is limited.

How much does a domestic air source heat pump cost?

Domestic air source heat pumps vary in price, and it depends on the manufacturer being used and the already existing heating system you have in your home, but they usually run from £7,000 to £11,000 with additional running costs, which also depend on the size of your home and how well insulated it is.

The Energy Savings Trust provides a detailed account of how much you could save depending on where you live in the United Kingdom. For more information your eligibalility for Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (DRHI) visit The Energy Savings Trust.

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 *Oil non-condensing systems for Northern Ireland result in a loss instead of a saving.

Note: The amount you save on heat pumps depends on these factors:

  • The controlling system is a great benefit for you as you will be able to set the heating to come on for longer hours and even set the thermostat for the heat pump lower and still enjoy the pleasant temperatures.
  • Water heating capabilities become inefficient if you are using an air source heat pump, thus if you want them to efficiently provide you with hot water, consider solar water heating.
  • With air source heat pumps, underfloor heating is more efficient than using radiators as hot water doesn’t need to be so hot. With radiators, you need quite large ones to fully benefit from the heating potential.
  • Even though you would still be paying fuel bills because heat pumps are powered using electricity, you will still save on the fuel type you would be replacing.
  • If you have an old heating system that is inefficient, you will have lower running costs with a brand new air source heat pump

Note: Integrating heat pumps into already existing heating systems is a bit more complicated, so they should be installed by a trained professional.

What benefits could I get from a domestic air source heat pump?

 

  • Air source heat pumps are considerably efficient, though they are more efficient in the winter months than they are in the summer. They can work in temperatures as low as -20°c.
  • They can be integrated with other renewable energy systems as a backup, such as solar thermal hot water system or wood pellet, chip or log stove system.
  • They are easy to install as the unit is self contained and requires connections only for water and electricity, unlike ground source heat pumps that need groundwork done or external pumps.
  • You can personalize them to suit your specific needs, and they can be fitted to existing properties.
  • Long term future benefits include allowing you to save more in the long run and reducing your CO2 emissions. Also, if you want to sell your home, they increase the value.
  • They are combustion free as they run on electricity and not gas or other fuels and do not generate unnecessary toxins in your home like boilers or burners.
  • You could benefit from a number of grant schemes, such as the UK’s Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (DRHI), and NI Direct for more information on the DRHI for Northern Ireland .

How can a domestic air source heat pump be used at home?


The main uses for domestic air source heat pumps are:

  • Central heating for radiators: During the winter, it is important for radiators to be heated optimally and efficiently. With air source heat pumps, the radiator systems work differently than with heating solutions powered by fossil fuels because they work well with low temperates
  • Underfloor heating: Radiant heating combines with low water flow, allowing for your floor surfaces to be heated. With this, you are guaranteed to have evenly heated floors throughout your home. 
  • Hot Water Heating: During the winter air source heat pumps, specifically water source heat pumps, provide you with continuous access to hot water when needed, but in the summer months consider using solar thermal heating instead.

Are You Interested in Getting Quotes for Domestic Air Source Heat Pumps?

If reading this has sparked your interest for domestic air source heat pumps or would like to hear more them, you are welcome to fill in the form on the right. We will provide you with up to four customized quotes from our suppliers. This is service totally free and with no obligation! It only takes a minute to fill in the form and this will save you hours of research.

Sources: The Energy Savings Trust , NI Direct Government Services