A heat pump extracts heat energy from the air or ground, even when it is cold outside, and uses it to warm your home.
A well-designed heat pump system transfers around three to four times more energy into a property as heat then it uses to extract it. As a result, heat pumps are incredibly efficient.
- Provides heating and hot water from the energy stored in the air or ground
- Generates more energy than it uses
- Qualifies for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme £7,500 grant.
When looking at a heating system for your home, it can be difficult to decide which one will be right for you. Whilst gas boilers have historically been the answer, heat pumps can offer an energy efficient, low-carbon, future-proof alternative.
If you’re looking to find out more and weigh up your different options, check out our Heat pump vs boiler page.
There are two main types of heat pump: air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. Air source heat pumps are the most popular option as they require little space and cost less to install. Because of the land required, ground source heat pumps are generally better suited to larger sites.
Find out more about ground source heat pumps.
Which type of heat pump should I choose?
|Ground Source (ground loops)
|Much more efficient than boilers, but generally less efficient than a ground source heat pump
|Generally more efficient than air source heat pumps
|Unit located close to the property
|Ground loops are invisible once fitted
|All produce some noise, but some are much quieter than you might expect
|Very quiet operation
|Can fall under permitted development, but also need to meet MCS020 standards
|Planning permission is generally not required (subject to groundworks & archaeological considerations)
|Suitable for smaller sites
|Suitable for larger sites
|Suitable for most properties – number of required heat pumps is dependent upon property size
|Generally more suitable for medium to large properties
|Example installation cost for a 250m2property
|£15,000 – £20,000
|Example Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant (Oct 2023)
Nu-Heat Trainer, Dan Clist, talks you through everything you need to know about heat pumps in our helpful video:
An ASHP can be installed in a range of properties, whether small or large, rural or urban.
An air source heat pump is right for you if:
- You are looking for a low-carbon, eco-friendly and sustainable way to heat your home
- The property is well insulated – this is important for efficiency and keeping running costs low
- There is not enough outside space needed for a ground source heat pump – typically three times the total floor area of the property. For an ASHP, all you need is room for the unit to be fitted to an exterior wall, with enough space around it to get a good flow of air
- You are installing, or already have, an underfloor heating system. Air source heat pumps work particularly well with underfloor heating because they are at their most efficient when producing low water temperatures
Both new and existing properties can benefit from the energy-saving capabilities of a heat pump.
Swedish company, NIBE, has been manufacturing heat pumps globally for 40 years. Their industry-leading ASHPs not only look great, they also offer the highest levels of performance and functionality.
- Incredibly quiet thanks to Owl Wing fan design, producing maximum sound power levels as low as 50 decibels
- Intuitive control with smart connectivity
- Compact units available from 6kW up to 16kW
- Cascade and hybrid options to suit a wide range of properties
- MCS approved for accessing government grants
- 7-year warranty when commissioned by a Nu-Heat engineer
|CoP at 7/35 °C*
|Dimensions (height includes stand)
|H791 x W993 x
|H895 x W1035 x
|Max sound power level (dB(A))**
Another highly efficient option is the Panasonic air source heat pump range. Available as single units from just 5kW, they offer a lower initial investment for homeowners looking to make the switch to renewable, low-carbon heating.
- 5kW – 16kW models available
- Maximum sound power levels as low as 59 decibels
- Simple, compact controller
- Built-in filter and charge pump
- MCS approved for accessing government grants
- 5-year warranty when commissioned by a Nu-Heat engineer
Watch Our Heat Pump and Underfloor Heating Masterclass
Learn the essentials with our resident expert Jo Snell, Self-Build Manager at Nu-Heat.
Frieda Garrett – Homeowner
Whilst both underfloor heating and radiators can work with an air source heat pump, there are a few important things to consider before making a final decision.
For example, it is worth bearing in mind that as an air source heat pump produces lower flow temperatures, it will require larger heat emitters in order to work efficiently. This is why underfloor heating is such a great heat emitter for an air source heat pump.
Air source heat pumps are at their most efficient when producing low temperatures over a sustained period of time.
An underfloor heating system uses water that is around 40-45°C, circulating this across the entire floor area to heat your home. In comparison, a traditional radiator system needs to use water that is far hotter, around 70-80°C, in order to heat the room/s using a much smaller surface area.
This is why integrating an air source heat pump with underfloor heating is the preferred combination, ensuring you get the maximum benefit from your heat pump system.
Why you should pair underfloor heating with an air source heat pump:
- Low flow temperature solution – maximising the air source heat pump efficiency
- Up to 40% more efficient than a boiler and radiators system
- Reduces carbon footprint
- When choosing Nu-Heat, you have a fully designed and integrated heat pump and underfloor heating solution from a single supplier
Want help finding the right renewables solution?
We would love to speak with you to discuss your project. If you have a question about your existing Nu-Heat system, our technical support team are at hand.
Providing the property is well-insulated, an air source heat pump is likely to be suitable. Insulation is really important because it prevents heat escaping, enabling the heat pump to work efficiently at lower flow temperatures.
The levels of insulation in new build properties, and generally those built in the last 10 years, are likely to be suitable for an air source heat pump. Older properties will require insulation upgrades like loft, cavity wall and glazing improvements.
A heat pump could be a particularly cost-effective choice if your property doesn’t have access to mains gas. This is because for every unit of electricity the heat pump uses, it typically outputs three times the amount in heat energy. You can expect a heat pump to be more efficient and cheaper to run than an electric-only heating system or an LPG boiler.
Yes, it can, providing that the insulation is being improved – ideally as close to current build regulations as possible. This enables the air source heat pump to work efficiently and keeps running costs low.
Insulation should be up to modern Building Regulation standards to ensure the heat pump both effectively and efficiently heats the property.
An air source heat pump is around 300% efficient. This is because for every unit of energy it uses to extract heat from the air, it typically outputs over 3 units of heat energy into the property.
We can help you to find an installer for your heat pump through our Registered Installer Network.
If you already have an installer in mind, we can support heating engineers to fit heat pumps to Microgeneration Scheme standards, offering a range of commissioning packages.
The installer will need to have the following pre-requisite qualifications:
- Part L Energy Efficiency
- G3 Domestic Hot Water Systems
- Water Regulations 1999
They will also need to hold public liability insurance of over £2million.
An air source heat pump is a low-carbon, efficient renewable technology. A big benefit is that it offers a cleaner and greener way to heat a home – no fossil fuels.
Aside from their eco credentials, air source heat pumps are also eligible for a £5000 grant through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
The Microgeneration Certification Scheme or MCS is often described as the renewables equivalent of Gas Safe. You will need your heat pump system to be MCS compliant if you wish to benefit from any government grant, like the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
In the majority of cases an air source heat pump does not require planning permission, falling under Permitted Development in line with MCS020. Obviously, it is important to check this before getting started!
If the property is listed, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Conservation Area, planning permission will be required.
Yes! Heat pumps are at their most efficient when operating at lower temperatures, making this technology a perfect partner for underfloor heating (UFH), which operates at a much lower flow temperature than radiators.
Heat pumps can still be used in conjunction with radiators, but the radiators would need to be oversized in order to heat the property adequately.
Not much! The air source heat pump unit is fitted outside of the property. You will need some space inside for the domestic hot water cylinder, buffer tank and the other components.
For heat pumps up to 12kW, you need a footprint around the same size as a standard hot water cylinder – similar to a large airing cupboard.
The actual distance a heat pump needs to be from a neighbouring property depends on the unit used and any fences, hedges, walls etc. between the heat pump’s location and the assessment position. This is covered by MCS020 – something we take care of for you.
You can easily control your heat pump via a series of icons on the control panel that enable you to set heating and domestic hot water (DHW) schedules, as well as view live operating data and current temperatures. Every on-screen menu has a help button which provides clarification on each of the functions.
Yes. Any competent plumber can install an ASHP to MCS standards with our support.
Yes. Our heat pump systems come with a 7-year warranty when commissioned by a Nu-Heat engineer.
Nu-Heat offers a unique air source heat pump MCS support package. This includes an on-site commissioning visit from one of our engineers who will check that the ASHP has been installed correctly.
Nu-Heat supplies NIBE heat pumps that offer weather compensating technology.
Weather compensation works by adjusting the amount of energy it uses to achieve the desired inside temperature, according to the outside weather conditions. For example, your heating system will not have to work as hard to achieve and maintain a set minimum inside temperature on a warm summer’s day as it would in the depths of winter.
This is a more efficient alternative to a traditional central heating schedule, which will fire up the boiler to deliver heat to your radiators at certain times of the day or night, regardless of the outside temperature, and only regulates the heat output according to the temperature of the water circulating around the system.
Plumbing an air source heat pump takes a similar amount of time to installing a conventional boiler. Electrically, heat pumps are a little more involved, so it may take a couple more hours to wire than a boiler.
Yes. The most efficient way to provide domestic hot water (DHW) for your home is to allow the DHW cylinder to remain ‘topped up’, with the heat pump operating to replace the used hot water.
Most heat pumps can be set to switch on a standby electric immersion heater to ensure that you always have hot water when you need it.
No. An air source heat pump makes less noise than the flue of a gas boiler. NIBE ASHPs are the quietest on the market thanks to their Owl Wing Technology.
Yes. Heat pumps work effectively year-round.
The top 15m of the Earth’s surface maintains an average year-round temperature of 12ºC. Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) use this heat source to supply the energy required to heat domestic water, and a low temperature heating system such as underfloor heating.
Air source heat pumps work in a similar way, except they extract available warmth from passing air rather than from the ground. In theory they should be able to extract useful energy from the outside air down to temperatures as low as -15°C. The storage cylinder provides both domestic hot water and a boost of heating energy in the coldest weather.
An air source heat pump should be serviced yearly to maintain the warranty and to ensure the system is working as it should be. The cost of an annual service will be around £200-£300.
Yes, absolutely. It’s the most efficient way.
NIBE air source heat pumps come with a 7-year warranty when commissioned by a Nu-Heat engineer but you can expect a life expectancy well in excess of 10 years.
No, we would not recommend it. Air source heat pumps are at their most efficient when producing low flow temperatures. Because of this, they should be paired with low temperature heat emitters, like warm water underfloor heating.
This stops the heat pump from overworking and keeps running costs low. Radiators are still an option but they would need to be oversized to effectively heat the room/s with lower water temperatures.
Yes, you can, but we would advise against it. This is because an air source heat pump is designed to work as a weather compensation system, running as and when needed to heat the home, rather than at predefined times.
No. Well-insulated properties that have access to mains gas are still suitable for an air source heat pump. Providing it is designed and installed correctly, the running costs will be low – comparable to mains gas – but with the added bonus of lower carbon emissions.
You will find that air source heat pumps are generally more popular in off-grid areas, and this is because they offer far lower running costs in comparison to oil, LPG or electric-only heating systems.
Making sure your air source heat pump system is set up correctly and maintained will ensure that its efficiency is maximised, keeping running costs low and improving your impact on the environment.
When using an air source heat pump system, make sure to bear the following steps in mind:
- Before considering an air source heat pump, ensure the property is well insulated to reduce heat losses and allow the heat pump to work effectively producing low temperatures. Ideally, insulation should be as close to current building regulations as possible.
- Air source heat pumps work at peak efficiency when gathering lower temperatures over a longer period of time. They are set up and controlled very differently to a boiler. One of our Field Engineers will ensure that the heat pump is set up appropriately during the commissioning visit.
- Ensure the ASHP is serviced annually and in line with recommendations by the manufacturer.
- Check that nothing impedes the flow of air into your ASHP vents.
- Make sure that the pressure gauge on the unit falls within the correct range as specified by the manufacturer.
We would recommend positioning an air source heat pump in a location that minimises the pipe and cable runs from the heat pump into the plant room.
You will also need to be mindful of its proximity to bedroom windows, the requirements of permitted development/planning permission, and sound assessment (MCS020) results.
We take care of all of this as part of our air source heat pump design.