Think of a refrigerator, but in reverse. An air source heat pump extracts heat from the air outside and releases it into your home. In the same way that a refrigerator gets hot on the outside, your home will become warmer as heat is extracted from the air outside and used in your central heating or hot water system. Air source heat pumps can be used all year around and can even be used in reverse during the summer when they can have a cooling effect.
Air Source Heat Pumps Click here for an overview
Although an air source heat pump is considered to be a renewable energy solution, it does require some electricity to run – just as a refrigerator does. In addition to the unit price of electricity, the cost of running the heat pump will depend on two inter-related factors: the building’s heat demand and the efficiency of the heat pump - otherwise known as the coefficient of performance, or COP.
Heat demand can be explained as the room or water temperature you wish to achieve with the system. It goes without saying that higher temperatures will require more energy to achieve and therefore incur higher running costs. The efficiency of your heat pump system can depend on various factors including: - The type of heating system your building runs. Air source pumps are most efficient when used in conjunction with underfloor or air convection heating systems, due to the lower temperatures needed. - The level of insulation in your building. A well insulated home costs far less to heat because generated heat is prevented from escaping. Rooms therefore take less energy to heat and retain their warmth for longer periods. - Placement of the air source heat pump. If the pump system is installed in a place that naturally receives more sunlight and has plenty of space around it to achieve a good air flow, the heat extraction process will be more efficient.
The COP measures how much heat is generated for each unit of electricity input. For example, a COP of 2 means that that 2kw of heat have been generated for every 1kw of electricity input. An average home is likely to require around 12,000 kWh of heat per year, whilst an average heat pump is likely to produce 3kw of heat for every 1kw of electricity it consumes – a COP of 3. This means that the heat pump will consume 4,000 kWh of electricity to satisfy an annual heat demand 12,000 kWh. If the unit price of electricity is 13p per unit, then the annual cost of running the heat pump would be £520.
The real running costs of an air source heat pump may actually be lower than the figures suggested by the factors listed above, thanks to the offsetting effect of the UK government's Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. This scheme aims to reward homeowners who turn to renewable heating and power solutions by paying them some money towards the upkeep of those systems. The exact figure will depend on the type of heating system and the type of building you have, but the grant is generally well worth applying for.
The calculations for installation and running costs can seem confusing at best. If you are unsure whether an air source heat pump is the best solution for your building, why not get in contact with us at Franck Energy and let us help you decide. Our friendly team have up-to-date knowledge on all the factors that come into play when you decide to switch to a renewable energy source. We will help you to assess your unique situation and make the most cost effective decision. We can recommend a reputable supplier and/or installer and assist you through the whole process. Take the stress out of becoming more sustainable and contact us today.