HEAT PUMP OR AIR SOURCE PUMP: WHAT ARE THESE? AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

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A Heat pump or air source pump is an alternative way to heat your home. It will enable you to generate your own renewable heat and potentially save money on your energy bills. They deliver heat at lower temperatures than gas and oil boilers. So you'll need to run them for much longer periods to heat your home to a comfortable temperature. 

Heat pumps can save you more on your heating bills if you're replacing an expensive system such as electric storage heaters, oil, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), or coal, rather than gas. But remember, a well-insulated home is essential – otherwise the heat the pump is generating escapes more easily.

In simple terms, an electric heat pump works like a reverse fridge, extracting warmth from the outside air, the ground, or a nearby water source before concentrating the heat and transferring it indoors.

They can usually be found outside a home, and they look like a standard air-conditioning unit.

What is an air source heat pump?

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An air source is a low-carbon way of heating your home. They absorb heat from a cooler place and use it to increase the temperature inside your home.  Air source heat pumps look similar to air-conditioning units.

Their size depends on how much heat they'll need to generate for your home - the more heat, the bigger the heat pump. There are two main types of air source heat pumps: air-to-water and air-to-air.

They work in different ways and are compatible with different types of heating systems.

Air source heat pump advantages and disadvantages

Air source heat pumps require little maintenance and can provide heating and hot water, but they aren't flawless systems. Here are some of the key advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages for Air Source Heat Pump 

  • Energy efficient generate less CO2 than many conventional heating systems 
  • Less disruptive than installing a ground source, especially if you're retrofitting
  • Air-to-water qualify for Renewable Heat Incentive payments 
  • You could save money on heating compared with some older systems. 

Disadvantages for Air Source Heat Pump

  • You'll need enough space in your garden for the external condenser unit 
  • Condenser units can be noisy and blow colder air into the area immediately around them
  • Electricity is needed to drive the pump so they're not zero-carbon (unless the electricity comes from a renewable source such as solar panels or a wind turbine).

Are air source heat pumps efficient?
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An air-source heat pump system can help to lower your carbon footprint as it uses a renewable, natural source of heat – air. How much CO2 you'll save depends on the fuel you are replacing.

For example, the figure will be higher if you are replacing coal or an oil boiler rather than natural gas. 

A heat pump needs a power source, usually electricity, to power, so there will still be some resulting CO2 emissions. To get the best from your heat pump, you'll need to know how to use it most effectively. Often you'll need to set your heating to come on for longer than with a traditional system. Your installer should show you how to control your heat pump system.  You should also have your service every two to three years.

Check that any grills are free of leaves and debris on a regular basis and follow any other maintenance checks advised by your installer.

Why do we need heat pumps?

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About 85% of UK homes use gas boilers for heating, making it one of the most polluting sectors of the economy. The fossil fuels used in our homes for heating, hot water, and cooking make up more than a fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions, meaning low-carbon alternatives are critical if the UK hopes to meet its climate targets.

Do they work as well as a gas boiler?

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A properly installed heat pump, which is the right size for the property, should keep indoor temperatures toasty. They are designed to keep indoor spaces at a steady temperature with gentle top-ups throughout the day, rather than ramping up quickly with a quick blast of fossil fuels like a traditional gas boiler. As a result, they are popular across Nordic countries where winter temperatures are far colder than in the UK.

Heat pumps work best in homes with properly insulated windows, walls, and roofs. Using an accredited heat pump installer is a crucial step in getting the best advice to make sure your home does not leak too much heat and has space for the right heat pump.

If you have plenty of outdoor space you could consider a ground source heat pump, which requires a 100m borehole nearby. If space is tight an air source heat pump can sit directly outside a home, and should make only as much noise as a fridge. Both options require a cupboard for an indoor water heater. If you're on your home project and want to install heat pumps, get in touch with us now! Property Contractors 247 offers affordable construction services. Call us now! 02079162087

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