Air Source Heat Pumps: What are they & do you need them?

Air source heat pumps is an energy efficient heating which has been used across the globe for many years, and just recently, they are now finally becoming far more established in the UK. Knowing the benefits of Air source heat pumps could sway your decision when it comes to choosing the right type of heating and cooling product. Luckily, air source heat pumps make it possible to generate heat sustainably and at a low cost.

To explain further, Dominic Little, Director of Chill Air Conditioning Ltd, provides his experience on the ever-growing trend of air source heat pumps and why you might want to consider it for your home or commercial space.

The basics of air source heat pumps

Even in winter, air contains heat. Air source heat pumps draw in air and capture it in a liquid known as a refrigerant. This refrigerant circulates around the pump. As it does so, the pump compresses the liquid. This raises its temperature and causes it to turn into a gas.

The warm gas is then transferred where it is needed for example to your radiators. As the heat is used up, the gas condenses back into liquid form and the process begins again. The pumping process is driven by electricity. It is, however, more economical than using gas from the mains. Also, electricity can be created from renewable sources. This makes it even more sustainable.

Modern air source heat pumps can continue to generate heat down to temperatures of -15°C. This means that they can operate during the winter in at least most of the UK. Air-to-water air source heat pumps can power both heating and hot water. They are eligible for the UK Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

You can also buy air-to-air heat pumps. These only heat air, not water. They are not very common in the UK and are not eligible for the RHI scheme. They may, however, still have some niche applications. For example, they could be useful in some commercial buildings which do not require hot water.

The practicalities of air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps need to be outdoors. They’re usually attached to a wall but they can be put in the ground. Either way, you obviously need somewhere to put them. This is usually the single, biggest challenge when it comes to using air source heat pumps.

The other key point to bear in mind is that air source heat pumps produce a continuous stream of low heat. You can’t just push up the temperature to get a place warmed quickly as you can with regular gas or electric heating. This means that you may need to have your air pumps running for much longer than you would have regular heating switched on.

You also need to make sure that the heat you generate stays where you want it. In other words, you need to make sure that your insulation is up to modern standards. That said, this is strongly advisable with any form of heating.

It’s also worth noting that the running costs of air source heat pumps will typically increase as temperatures drop. This is because the pump will need to work harder. Again, however, this is comparable to any other form of heating.

Are air source heat pumps right for you?

If your existing heating system is functioning well, then the most practical option is likely to be to let it run its natural course before you make any significant changes. Once you are ready to upgrade, however, it could be well worth looking at an air source heat pump as an economical and sustainable way to heat your home or commercial property.