Many traditional central heating systems using gas, electric, oil and LPG can be costly, inefficient and often not up to scratch. In many cases, an air source heat pump system could provide the best solution. Whether you’re looking to replace your entire heating system, improve your energy efficiency or simply keep your home warm in winter and cool in the summer, I-HT can offer some considerations below that could help with your decisions.

How do Air Source Heat Pumps Work?

The way in which an air source heat pumps works is by extracting warmth from the outside air and using it to heat your home. Amazingly they can achieve this even at sub-zero temperatures; this technology can therefore be relied upon all year round.

There are two types of air-source heat pumps, air-to-air and air-to-water.

Air-to-air heat pumps

Air-to-air heat pumps are commonly known as air conditioning; they not only provide heating by blowing warm air into your home, but they also can provide cooling when the system is effectively in reverse action.

Air-to-water heat pumps 

Air-to-water heat pumps generally heat water that is used to heat radiators, underfloor heating and hot water in wet central heating systems. They are also used to provide hot water to taps.

Both Air to Air and Air to Water systems have their pros and cons; I-HT can provide some of these below to also assist you with making the correct decision.

Just how efficient are Air Source Heat Pumps?

Air-to-air and air-to-water heat pumps both rely on electricity, but they’re still much more efficient than traditional heating systems. The efficiency of heat pumps is measured by what’s known as the Coefficient of Performance (CoP). Typically, air-to-water heat pumps have a CoP of around 3, which means they generate three units of heat for each unit of electricity used. The CoP varies according to the external temperature, becoming less efficient when the weather is really cold. However, air-source heat pumps do perform strongly all year round and have proven popular in colder climates, including Scandinavia.

To get the most out of a heat pump, it’s vital that your home is well insulated and the unit is correctly sized for your property. As long as it’s installed correctly, it will help you reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint.

What are the Benefits of an Air-to-Water Heat Pump System?

Air-to-water heat pumps are designed to replace your entire central heating system, although hybrid systems can work in conjunction with a boiler. In some cases, it’s possible to use your existing radiators, but more often than not, you’ll need to replace them with larger versions or underfloor heating.

This is because air-to-water heat pumps are only efficient in low-temperature heating systems, which need to deliver heat over a larger surface area. Traditional radiators are smaller in size but operate at higher temperatures. Due to the necessary reconfiguration and the high equipment costs, air-to-water heat pumps don’t come cheap. A typical installation can cost between £10,000 and £15,000. However, if you’re building a new property or carrying out major renovation work, it can bring the installation costs down considerably.

What are the Benefits of an Air-to-Air Heat Pump System?

Air-to-air heat pumps or air conditioning systems are considerably cheaper. In a small property, it’s sometimes possible to have single split systems installed for as little as £1,200 – £3,000.

Costs are always generally dependent on the capacity of the required units and how easy the installation may be. They’re always easy to fit into any property and don’t need to make any other changes to your home. Installations are always quick and unobtrusive. Air conditioning systems also have higher CoPs than air-to-water heat pumps, reaching over 5 for some models but most average around 4. There’s much more choice available too, ranging from units that can all provide cooling as well as heating if required.

Air conditioning also works alongside your existing heating system, meaning you can use it according to your needs. By monitoring your energy use, you can work out at what times it’s more efficient than your heating system and vice versa.

The only downside to using air conditioning as opposed to air-to-water heat pumps is you would still need a separate hot water system as they can’t provide hot water. You also need space for the indoor units, whether you’re planning on fitting them on the walls or within the ceiling. Air-to-air heat pumps also produce a nice different kind of heat. They can heat the room much faster, but there will always be some degree of air movement and a little fan-related noise. However, the right kind of heating for you just comes down to personal preference.