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Air Source Heating FAQs
Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) are a popular low-carbon, renewable heating system. They are suitable for a wide range of properties and are also eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.
An air source heat pump (ASHP) is a low-carbon, renewable heat source that is suitable for a wide range of homes. Aside from their eco credentials, an air source heat pump system is also very efficient. For every unit of energy it uses to extract heat from the air, it typically outputs three times more as heat, meaning air source heat pump efficiency is around 300%!
- Low carbon, environmentally friendly heat source
- Highly efficient, transferring around three times more energy into a home as heat than it uses to extract it from the air
- MCS approved for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
- Little outdoor space required, meaning an air source heat pump system is suitable for most urban properties
- NIBE air source heat pumps are exceptionally quiet thanks to their innovative Owl Wing Technology
An air source heat pump extracts heat from the air, absorbing this into a refrigerant fluid. The fluid is then passed through an electric compressor which increases the fluid’s temperature, using this higher temperature to fuel the home’s heating and hot water.
Air source heating systems work effectively year-round, even in temperatures as low as -20°C.
In this video you’ll discover
Installing an air source heat pump is simple. There’s no need for extensive groundworks and any plumber or heating engineer can install an ASHP with our support. Nu-Heat can even take on all of the MCS paperwork and commissioning for the system, ensuring the heat pump is installed correctly and meets the criteria required for the Green Homes Grant and the Renewable Heat Incentive.
There are 3 key stages to installing an air source heat pump:
Choosing an experienced ASHP supplier is essential when it comes to heat pump system design. You need to be confident that the system will be efficient and work as expected, keeping running costs low. Nu-Heat offers the following as standard:
- Advice and guidance on the suitability of an ASHP for the project
- Full heat loss calculations for the property in order to correctly size the ASHP
- An accurate quotation for the system components in line with MCS and RECC standards
- Support with MCS compliance, including on-site commissioning
- Mechanical and electrical drawings specific to the installation as well as clear installation manuals and customer user guides
Installing an ASHP is relatively simple for any plumbing and heating engineer. The heat pump controls and pipework layout are very similar to a traditional gas or oil boiler, configured as a Y or S plan industry standard layout.
- The ASHP is placed on a flat concrete base external to the property with the appropriately sized flow and return heating pipes and electrical power cable running from the unit into the property
- Electrical work should be carried out by a qualified electrician in the conventional way as you would for a gas or oil boiler
To simplify the process, Nu-Heat provides a complete set of ‘as installed’ mechanical and electrical drawings, which will provide a fault-free template of the complete air source heating system layout.
Once the installation of the mechanical and electrical heat pump components is completed, the ASHP unit will be ready for commissioning. As an MCS accredited company, we can help with this final step by providing:
- The MCS paperwork – Pass over the cumbersome compliance paperwork to Nu-Heat, freeing up time to spend on the ASHP installation. Nu-Heat also completes and provides all of the relevant MCS support documentation for the homeowner’s RHI application, warranties and guarantees.
- Onsite commissioning – To ensure the system is MCS compliant, Nu-Heat can send out one of our own field service engineers to commission and explain the system set up and functionality of the heat pump controls. We can also support with the handover to the homeowner.
Frieda Garrett – Homeowner
Air source heat pumps work most efficiently when producing low flow temperatures. It’s the lower flow temperatures required by underfloor heating that make it the perfect partner for air source heat pumps.
By integrating the two systems together, both technologies play to their strength and maximum efficiency can be achieved without compromising comfort.
If traditional radiators are the preferred option, it’s worth bearing in mind that they will need to be sized in line with the lower water flow temperatures associated with heat pumps; this means they are generally twice the size of those used with a gas or oil boiler.
An air source heat pump can be installed in a range of properties, whether small or large, rural or urban.
An ASHP 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 need for a ground source heat pump – typically three times the total floor area of the property
Off the gas grid? An air source heat pump is also one of the most cost-effective ways to heat your home. Take a look at this running cost comparison:
|ENERGY SOURCE||INPUT COST||EFFICIENCY||OUTPUT COST|
|Mains Gas||4.3p/kWh||89% efficient||4.8p/kWh|
|Wood Pellet||5.5p/kWh||90% efficient||6.1p/kWh|
*Please use this table as a guide as energy prices can vary.
At Nu-Heat, we only use the highest quality, tried-and-tested components for all of our systems. That’s why we design and supply NIBE air source heat pumps – they are the best in the ASHP market.
NIBE air source heat pumps are:
- More efficient
- Covered by a long warranty period – 7 years when commissioned by a Nu-Heat engineer
A high-quality and well-designed air source heat pump system costs start from £6,000. This includes:
- A bespoke design, tailored to the property
- Installation schematics
- The air source heat pump, domestic hot water cylinder, buffer tank, circulation pumps and all of the connecting brassware for the components
- MCS support to successfully apply for the RHI
- Lifetime technical support
|RHI Payments||Air source heat pump|
|RHI Tariff payment pence / kWh||10.71p|
|Potential RHI payments over 7 years using a NIBE air source heat pump*||£7,000|
*An average three-bed house using 15,000kWh of heating per year with a SPF of 2.7 for the ASHP. February 2020.
The cost to have an air source heat pump installed varies, but as a rough estimate, it is usually around half of the cost of the unit itself. Looking for an installer? We can help through Nu-Heat’s Registered Installer Network.
The Government recognises that air source heat pumps play an important role in reducing carbon emissions from the UK’s homes. This is why air source heat pump grants have been included in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
To help offset the cost of installation, the RHI air source heat pump grant is set at a tariff rate of 7.3p/kWh. The exact ASHP grant amount over seven years depends on how much energy the household uses.
A typical home using around 20,000kWh per annum of heating requirement could receive around £7000 in payments over a seven-year period – a considerable sum to go alongside the savings on energy bills. Visit Ofgem to find out more about air source heat pump grants.
The government has also introduced a new grant that can be claimed from the end of September 2020 until March 2021. The Green Homes Grant offers vouchers to help reduce the upfront cost of low carbon and energy efficient home improvements.
There are a number of home improvements for which vouchers can be used, including the installation of air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and solar thermal.
The Green Homes Grant and the RHI scheme can be used together, with the voucher value being deducted from the RHI payments.
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.
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.
Yes. An air source heat pump works effectively year-round, even in temperatures as low as -20°C.
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.
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, an ASHP is also inexpensive to run and cost-effective in most projects, especially when you factor in the potential payback through the Renewable Heat Incentive.
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.
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 main air source heat pump unit will be fitted outside the property with the domestic hot water cylinder and associated parts installed indoors.
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.
Yes. Any competent plumber can install an ASHP to MCS standards with our support.
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.
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.
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.
An air source heat pump should be serviced yearly to maintain the warranty and to ensure the system is working as it should be. Servicing is also a requirement under the Renewable Heat Incentive. It costs around £200-£300 for an annual service.
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.
Yes, absolutely. It’s the most efficient way.
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 and quarterly RHI payments.
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.