The government clearly sees air source heat pumps as playing a huge role in the fight against climate change. They may be part of the future of heating in the UK. Right now, however, you should do your research carefully before deciding whether or not they’re right for you. Here, Dominic Little, director of Chill Air Conditioning, shares his expertise into what you need to know before installing an air source heat pump system.

How air source heat pumps work

Air source heat pumps work by extracting the heat from the air and trapping it in a liquid (known as a refrigerant). The heat causes the liquid to evaporate and turn into warm air. This is then pumped around the host building to provide heating and often hot water as well. As the heat is used up, the air turns back into a liquid and the cycle restarts.

The practicalities of air source heat pumps

On a like-for-like basis, air source heat pumps are about the same size as air conditioning units. They need an electrical supply and benefit from a sheltered location. If you have a place to put them, then they are usually fairly straightforward to install.

Regular air source heat pumps work happily down to -5°. Some can work in temperatures as low as -20°. With that said, the lower the temperature drops, the harder the ASHP has to work and the more electricity it uses. This means that the running costs of air source heat pumps can fluctuate significantly between seasons.

With that said, air source heat pumps can be linked to smart heating systems. This maximizes their overall efficiency. ASHPs do depend on buildings having effective insulation but this is true of all forms of eating.

Financing air source heat pumps

The cost of an air source heat pump depends on three main factors. These are:

• The size of the unit
• The unit’s features
• The amount of effort needed to install it.

This means that the only way to get an accurate estimate of how much it would cost to install an ASHP on your property is to ask a professional installation company for a quote.

Realistically, the costs of installing an air source heat pump are likely to be higher than the cost of installing a gas boiler but the running costs are likely to be lower. Air source heat pumps can reduce them by up to 26%. What’s more, you may be able to get some help with the upfront cost of installing an ASHP.

Government funding for air source heat pumps

The government has pledged to have 600,000 heat pumps installed per year from now until 2028. For clarity, this includes water and gas source heat pumps as well as air source heat pumps. Even so, this is a really ambitious target. It’s therefore understandable that the government is moving it along with funding.

The current funding system is known as the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This will close at the end of March 2022. Its replacement is now officially known as the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (formerly the Clean Heat Grant). It is scheduled to run until April 2025. It offers grants of up to £5,000 towards the installation of ASHPs.

There are various qualifying criteria for the scheme. In a nutshell, new-build properties are excluded. Older properties will only qualify if they can demonstrate that they have sufficient installation in place by the time the air source heat pump is installed. There is an exception for self-built properties.

The funds will be provided in the form of vouchers to be redeemed by the installer. These vouchers will have a validity period. This will be three months for ASHPs. If the cost of the installation is more than the value of the voucher, then the property owner has to pay the balance.

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