For decades, engineers have been working to create more efficient and eco-friendly ways to heat our homes that are also more affordable and practical.

Every year it seems that boilers are getting better and smart metres have certainly played a major role in helping the UK’s homes but there might be another solution that’s passed you by.

What’s an air source heat pump?

Air source heat pumps are semi-renewable and low-maintenance boiler replacements that could dramatically cut back your heating costs with minimal fuss and initial outlay.

As the name implies, these are heat pumps that use air as their primary source of energy, drawing it from the outside and converting it into heat.

Imagine how an air-conditioning unit works – well and air source heat pump works in essentially the same manner, only in reverse.

How do they work?

Air source heat pumps work in three stages:

  1. The pump draws in air from a compressor unit installed outside your home and uses this as an energy source to heat a liquid refrigerant. This turns it into a gas.
  2. The pump uses an electrical charge to compress the gas. This increases its temperature before it’s transferred into your home, where the gas condenses back into a liquid.
  3. The hot liquid can then be sent through the piping system in your home to create hot water in your showers, baths, and sinks and to heat your underfloor heating and radiators.

Note that this is how a typical air-to-water heat pump system works. There are also air-to-air systems that retain the air without converting it to liquid and circulate it around the home with a network of fans. This is an expensive job though.


The pros of air source heat pumps

  • They are incredibly low maintenance, efficient and more eco-friendly than traditional boilers as they produce fewer carbon emissions than boilers.
  • Heating costs in your home could be dramatically lowered.
  • They last a lot longer than a boiler, lasting on average around 20 years before they need to be replaced.
  • As the compressor is installed outside, it frees up space inside your home.

The cons of air source heat pumps

  • You’ll need adequate outdoor space to install the compressor.
  • The temperatures they reach are generally lower than conventional boilers, though as long as you’re using adequate insulation and draught-proofing you shouldn’t notice much of a difference.
  • Older models tend to have quite noisy fans on the compressors.

Is an air-source heat pump right for my home?

Ultimately, that’s a question that only you can answer. It’s worth noting, however, that they work best in well-insulated homes. So, if you’re considering installing an air source heat pump, you’ll want to ensure at a minimum that your loft and cavity walls are insulated and that you have double glazing on all your windows.

It’s a major change, we understand. But it’s also one that could completely alter the way you think about heating your home. It’s estimated that you could save hundreds by replacing your old boiler and they are remarkably easy to install. As long as your local heating engineer knows what they’re doing, of course.