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Last updated: 09 June 2021

Air to Water Heat Pump Cost

Save Money with an Air to Water Heat Pump

Air to water heat pumps in particular, and air source heat pumps in general, deliver innovative and cost-efficient solutions to the household heating challenges many property owners have been facing for decades. The UK’s relatively mild winters with an average temperature for the coldest month of the year at around 0 degrees Celsius, makes the use of an air to water heat pump quite convenient. Hence, you can expect to save on heating bills right from the first day of running the heat pump.

1 1: An outdoor unit takes in heat from the ambient air and transfers it to a coolant. 2 2: A compressor increases the temperature of the coolant further. 3 3: The coolant transfers the heat to a hot water reserve tank via a heat exchanger. 4 4: Hot water from the tank is circulated to radiators and faucets in the house. 5 5: Cold water is transported back to the water reserve tank. 6 6: The coolant is cooled by the water and transferred back to the outdoor unit to be heated again.
Air to Water Heat Pump

Getting a heat pump might prove somewhat expensive in the beginning. The price of air to water heat pump equipment can vary from £7,000 to £11,000 (depending on the property size) and you also have to consider the costs of air source heat pump installation and renovation works required for upgrading the heat distribution system (pipes, radiators, underfloor heating).

Nevertheless, for a common three bedroom semi detached home you’ll get to pay circa £750 per year for the heat pump’s electric power consumption, which is less than the cost of heating with electricity, oil or coal but might be a bit more expensive than gas (depending on the gas prices trends). Thus, considering the government’s RHI scheme as well, which lasts for 7 years, you can expect the payback in around 5 years.

Thus, by replacing a conventional (electric or oil) heating system with an air to water heat pump you’ll not only reduce the fuel bills but will also:

  • lower carbon emissions (depending on the fuel type you are replacing).
  • ensure a minimal maintenance requirement.
  • won’t have to worry about traditional fuel (oil, coal) deliveries.
  • in addition to home heating, a pump can provide water heating as well (depending on the model).

Installation Costs of an Air to Water Heat Pump

Given the estimations put forward by The Energy Saving Trust (EST), it is assumed that the installation costs of an air to water heat pump, would vary in the range of £7,000 and £11,000.

However, the installation of a heat pipe system is not a complex process, since it typically lasts a few hours only, it is recommended to avoid installing the pipe on your own. Instead, the help of a professional installer, since the heating efficiency will very much depend on the heating system output which might be negatively impacted if the system was not properly installed.

Running Costs of Air to Water Heat Pumps

The running cost of heat pumps depends a lot on your house, the installation, and the heat pump's COP.

A 100 square meters house with a heating demand of 55kWh per square metre would require around 5,000-6,000 kWh of heating over one year. In addition to this, some 4,000 kWh will be needed for water heating, considering that 4 people live in the house.

A properly installed air to water heat pump that provides space heating might only ensure a COP (Coefficient of Performance) of 3 if the outside temperature levels are above the 7 degrees Celsius mark. Given that the UK’s average temperatures between November and March vary from 4 to 7 degrees Celsius, the pump will consume circa 2,200 kWh of electricity at a cost of £285 in order to produce 6,000 kWh of heating.

Saving On Air Heat Pump

Still, in addition to £285 spent on space heating, we have to consider the cost of 4,000 kWh for water heating. Again, if the pump is set up properly, it will manage to raise the water temperature to 30-35°C, after what the built-in water heaters can further increase the water temperature to the required levels.

This symbiotic functioning of an air source heat pump and electric water heater helps maintain the pump’s COP as high as possible and minimises the work of water heaters, which helps you get the most out of the air to water heat pump, in terms of efficiency and costs savings.

Thus, the cost of heating the water will be around £460. All that combined will give us a total running cost of £745—a reduction of 3-4% (compared to a condensing boiler) and 40% (compared to an oil boiler) in annual running costs, on the condition that the heat pump’s COP stays high for as long as possible. This is because a new condensing gas boiler (85% efficiency rate) will cost around £770 per year to meet that same heating demand, while an oil boiler operating at the same efficiency rate will cost somewhat £1,050 per year.

Factors Affecting Costs

When it comes to an air to water heat pump operational costs, the main factors to consider are the outside temperature levels (which should register positive values if the pump is to be cost-efficient), the level of insulation and the frequency of use. While there is not much one can do about outside weather conditions, one can roughly estimate his/her domestic hot water needs in order to minimise the use of water whenever possible, and also ensure a proper house insulation that will pay off later on.

Even though the Coefficient of Performance (COP) is expected to be around 3, the UK’s Energy Saving Trust states that the actual COP for a one year period for air source heat pump in the UK varies between 1.2 to 3.3—which is lower than expected. This is due to:

  • Inadequate Installation—the heat pumps are wrongly installed.
  • Inadequate Usage—a lot of property owners use traditional radiators as means for heat distribution, which considerably lowers the pump’s COP. It is recommended to use an underfloor heating system or large radiators if one wishes to use the pump at its highest potential.
  • Customer Behaviour—although most of the air source heat pumps are easy to operate, the failure to properly understand and follow the instructions on how to use the pump makes it less efficient.

Fuel Savings

Below we present the savings you might expect to get by replacing an old heating system with a new air source heat pump system in an average four-bedroom detached house. The price of an air source heat pump will differ depending on the type of heating system you are switching from.

England, Scotland, and Wales

Existing system Fuel bill savings (£/year) Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payment (£/year)
1 April 2015 to 31 December 2015
Carbon dioxide savings (kg CO2/year)
Gas older (non-condensing) £295-425   1,600-2,400 kg
Electric (old storage heaters) £715-1,295   6,700-11,400 kg
Oil older (non-condensing) £360-555 £905-1,365 2,500-3,900 kg
LPG older (non-condensing) £1,200-1,805   2,300-3,500 kg
Coal £525-875   7,100-11,000 kg

*Source: UK Energy Saving Trust

Northern Ireland

Existing system Fuel bill savings (£/year) Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payment (£/year) Carbon dioxide savings (kg CO2/year)
1 April 2015 to 31 December 2015
Gas older (non-condensing) £35-50   1,600-2,400 kg
Electric (old storage heaters) £720-1,365   6,700-11,400 kg
Oil older (non-condensing) £110-135 Domestic RHI is available in Northern Ireland through NI Direct. 2,500-3,900 kg
LPG older (non-condensing) £1,010-1,535   2,300-3,500 kg
Coal £305-555   7,100-11,000 kg

*Source: UK Energy Saving Trust

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