Before you start...
If you're thinking about installing a system to generate your own heat, make sure your home is as well insulated as it can be so your heat-producing system can be most efficient.
Stop wasting energy; start taking action! This is the section to get you started on energy-saving, whether it's changing your habits or improving your home – save energy and save money!
The better insulated your home is, the less money you'll spend heating it. Find out more about different types of insulation, including draught-proofing, double glazing, and insulation for lofts and walls.
The latest on energy-efficient boilers to save you energy and money, and the right controls to use as little energy as possible, whatever the age of your boiler. No boiler? Find out about controls for electric systems too.
Renewable and low-carbon technologies are good for the environment and good for your pocket too - with government financial incentives, it’s never been a better time to install. Find out more now!
Get inspiration for your own community projects from a range of case studies in PDF and video format; find extensive advice about funding your project; and explore our range of project tools.
Heat your home with energy absorbed from the air around you.
Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, or warm air convectors and hot water in your home.
An air source heat pump extracts heat from the outside air in the same way that a fridge extracts heat from its inside. It can get heat from the air even when the temperature is as low as -15° C. Heat pumps have some impact on the environment as they need electricity to run, but the heat they extract from the ground, air, or water is constantly being renewed naturally.
Already decided it's for you? Read our buyer's guide to heat pumps.
Air source heat pumps (also known as ASHPs):
Unlike gas and oil boilers, heat pumps deliver heat at lower temperatures over much longer periods. During the winter they may need to be on constantly to heat your home efficiently. You will also notice that radiators won't feel as hot to the touch as they might do when you are using a gas or oil boiler.
Heat from the air is absorbed at low temperature into a fluid. This fluid then passes through a compressor where its temperature is increased, and transfers its higher temperature heat to the heating and hot water circuits of the house. There are two main types of air source heat pump system:
To tell if an air source heat pump is right for you, there are a few key questions to consider:
You may also want to consider ground source heat pumps, which use pipes buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground. Or use our Home Energy Generation Selector to find out which means of generating energy might work best for you.
Installing a typical system costs around £6,000 to £10,000. Running costs will vary depending on a number of factors - including the size of your home, and how well insulated it is, and what room temperatures you are aiming to achieve.
How much you can save will depend on what system you use now, as well as what you are replacing it with. Your savings will be affected by:
These are the savings you might make every year when replacing an existing heating system in an average three-bedroom semi-detached home with a typical ASHP installation and a good installation:
|Existing system||Air source heat pump performing at 220%||Air source heat pump performing at 300%|
A negative number means it could cost you more to run the heat pump than the system you are replacing. We've assumed average boiler efficiency for each fuel type; heat pumps produce more energy (as heat) than they use (as electricity), so their efficiency is more than 100%. Find out more about how we made these calculations.
You may be able to receive payments for the heat you generate using a heat pump through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This scheme should be launched in Summer 2013. Please note that this scheme is not available in Northern Ireland.
For systems installed after 1 August 2011, you may be able to get help with the installation costs of a new air source heat pump through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme. Please note that this scheme is not available in Northern Ireland.
Heat pump systems typically come with a 10 year warranty. You can expect them to operate for 20 years or more, however they do require regular scheduled maintenance. A yearly check by you and a more detailed check by a professional installer every 3-5 years should be sufficient. The installer should leave written details of any maintenance checks you should undertake to ensure everything is working properly. Consult with your supplier for exact maintenance requirements before you commit to installing a heat pump.
One of the yearly checks that you are likely to be advised to carry out is to check that the air inlet grill and evaporator are free of leaves or other debris. Any plants that have started to grow near the heat pump unit will also need to be removed. You may also be advised by your installer to check the central heating pressure gauge in your house from time to time. If so, you should be shown how to do this.
To prevent the heat pump from freezing in cold winter weather anti-freeze is used. Levels of anti-freeze and its concentration is one of the things that a professional installer will check when he comes to service your heat pump.
If your heat pump has external refrigeration pipes (very unusual for a domestic system) these will need to be serviced annually by a refrigeration engineer.
In 2010, the Energy Saving Trust published the results of our heat pump field trials - the UK's most wide-ranging survey of domestic heat pump installations to date. Our report includes recommendations for heat pumps.
Air source heat pump installations In Wales and Northern Ireland require planning permission. In England and Scotland they may be considered Permitted Development, in which case you will not need planning permission, but the criteria are complex so it is always a good idea to check with your local planning office.
From 1st December 2011, domestic air source heat pump systems will be classed as Permitted Development provided that they comply with certain criteria, including:
This list is not comprehensive. Read the full legislation here or contact your local planning office for full details.
A domestic installation of an air source heat pump in Scotland is currently permitted unless:
In addition, before beginning the development the developer must apply to the planning authority for:
Generating energy – what suits your home? Use our online tool to find the technologies that will work for you.