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What is an air source heat pump system?

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
What is an air source heat pump system?

How does an air source heat pump work?

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

How does an air source heat pump work?
Would my property benefit would benefit from an ASHP
Do I need planning permission to install an air source heat pump?

Why choose an air source heat pump from Nu-Heat?

Because we are experts in integrating heat pumps and underfloor heating – it’s what we do!

As a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited company, we know what it takes to provide you with an efficient system that effectively heats a home, whilst also keeping running costs low.

We are here to provide the perfect heating package, meticulously tailored to each home. You also benefit from one point of responsibility – we will carefully design everything – for complete peace of mind.

Bespoke heating design

Seamlessly integrating the air source heat pump and underfloor heating

Long warranty

NIBE air source heat pumps are covered by a 7-year warranty when commissioned by Nu-Heat
Installation guides and manuals

Supporting RHI applications

Access the RHI with our MCS support package which includes on-site commissioning
MCS approved heat pumps

Free lifetime support

We support Nu-Heat systems for life, so you can always call on us for technical support
Lifetime technical support

Award-winning customer service

We’re the only heating company to hold a Distinction from the Institute of Customer Service
Award-winning service

How are air source heat pumps installed?

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:

Step 1 – Finding the right heat pump supplier and design

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
Nu-Heat underfloor heating design

Step 2 – Installing an air source heat pump

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.

Air source heat pump installation

Step 3 – Getting the heating system up and running

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.
NIBE Air Source Heat Pump with Underfloor Heating

It’s definitely a far cheaper and greener option than oil – and we will receive around £1,000 back from the RHI each year. Nu-Heat were brilliant from the start; so professional and helpful.

Frieda Garrett – Homeowner

The heat emitter – underfloor heating or radiators?

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.

Does Underfloor Heating Increase Property Value

Is an air source heat pump system right for me?

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:

Is an air source heat pump system right for me?
ENERGY SOURCE INPUT COST EFFICIENCY OUTPUT COST
ASHP 15.0p/kWh 300% efficient  5.0p/kWh
Mains Gas 4.3p/kWh 89% efficient  4.8p/kWh
Oil 4.9p/kWh 91.6% efficient  5.3p/kWh
LPG 5.8p/kWh 89% efficient  6.6p/kWh
Electric 15.0p/kWh 100% efficient  15.0p/kWh
Logs 8.3p/kWh 80% efficient  10.4p/kWh
Coal 6.3p/kWh 80% efficient  7.9p/kWh
Wood Pellet 5.5p/kWh 90% efficient  6.1p/kWh

*Please use this table as a guide as energy prices can vary.

Why we supply NIBE air source heat pumps

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
  • Quieter
  • Covered by a long warranty period – 7 years when commissioned by a Nu-Heat engineer
Why we supply NIBE air source heat pumps

How much does an air source heat pump cost?

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

It’s possible to offset the initial cost of installing an air source heating system by applying for government incentives like the Renewable Heat Incentive and Green Homes Grant.

How much does an air source heat pump cost?

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 Renewable Heat Incentive

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.

Renewable Heat Incentive

The Green Homes Grant

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.

Green Homes Grant FAQ

Nu-Heat’s NIBE air source heat pump range

Nu-Heat design and supply high-quality NIBE air source heat pumps, backed by a long 7-year warranty when commissioned by one of our engineers.

We offer four different sizes of air source heat pump to suit small, medium or large homes.

More detailed information on the NIBE ASHP models, including their efficiency, size and sound level can be found below:

NIBE air source heat pumps

NIBE 6KW ASHP

Model size 6kW
Air source heat pump efficiency (CoP)* 3.5
Operating voltage 230V 50Hz
Net weight 66kg
Dimensions (height includes stand) H791 x W993 x D364mm
Sound power level at 6m free standing* 26.5dB(A)

*In accordance with EN 14511 for heat source entry at 7°C / hot water flow at 35°C

NIBE 6kW Air Source Heat Pump

NIBE 8KW ASHP

Model size 8kW
Air source heat pump efficiency (CoP)* 4.3
Operating voltage 230V 50Hz
Net weight 90kg
Dimensions (height includes stand) H945 x W1035 x D422mm
Sound power level at 6m free standing* 30.5dB(A)

*In accordance with EN 14511 for heat source entry at 7°C / hot water flow at 35°C

NIBE F2040 8KW Air Source Heat Pump

NIBE 12KW ASHP

Model size 12kW
Air source heat pump efficiency (CoP)* 4.5
Operating voltage 230V 50Hz
Net weight 105kg
Dimensions (height includes stand) H1045 x W1145 x D452mm
Sound power level at 6m free standing* 33.5dB(A)

*In accordance with EN 14511 for heat source entry at 7°C / hot water flow at 35°C

NIBE F2040 12kW ASHP

NIBE 16KW ASHP

Model size 16kW
Air source heat pump efficiency (CoP)* 4.53
Operating voltage 230V 50Hz
Net weight 135kg
Dimensions (height includes stand) H1500 x W1145 x D452
Sound power level at 6m free standing* 37.5dB(A)

*In accordance with EN 14511 for heat source entry at 7°C / hot water flow at 35°C

NIBE F2040 16kW ASHP

Find an air source heat pump installer

Find an experienced and reputable heating engineer to install your air source heat pump system with Nu-Heat’s Registered Installer Network.

I’m interested in installing a heat pump, what are the next steps?

Air Source Heating FAQs

Is my property suitable for an air source heat pump?

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.

Can air source heating be installed in an older building?

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.

Will an air source heat pump provide all of my heating and hot water, even when it’s freezing outside?

Yes. An air source heat pump works effectively year-round, even in temperatures as low as -20°C.

How efficient are they?

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.

What are the incentives of buying an air source heat pump?

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.

Do I need planning permission?

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.

How much space do I need for an air source heat pump?

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.

Where do I site the unit?

The main air source heat pump unit will be fitted outside the property with the domestic hot water cylinder and associated parts installed indoors.

How far away does the heat pump need to be from my neighbour’s house?

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.

Can any plumber install and air source heat pump?

Yes. Any competent plumber can install an ASHP to MCS standards with our support.

How can I ensure it is installed correctly?

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.

How long does it take to install?

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.

Are air source heat pumps noisy?

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.

What are the maintenance processes and costs?

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.

What is the lifespan of an air source heat pump?

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.

Will an air source heat pump work with my existing radiators?

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.

Can you program an air source hear pump to provide heating at certain times?

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.

Can I use it 24 hours a day?

Yes, absolutely. It’s the most efficient way.

Is an air source heat pump just an off-grid option?

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.