Air Source Heat Pumps

A comprehensive guide to ECO 4 and air-source heat pumps, their benefits, disadvantages and what to be aware of when choosing one for your UK home.

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Global warming and rising energy prices hit some harder than the rest. If you find yourself in an energy-insecure position, have to budget more than before, and are looking for a way to save on your energy bill this winter, the ECO 4 (Ofgem Grant Scheme) is the best solution there is. Government-funded and completely free for eligible households, ECO 4 enables you to consider eco-friendly options to both heat your home and preserve heat that’s already there.

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1. What Is An Air-Source Heat Pump?

2. Air-Source Heat Pumps: Benefits

3. Air-Source Heat Pumps: Disadvantages

4. Government Incentives And Subsidies

5. Things To Be Aware Of When Choosing Heat Pump

6. Installing a ASHP

7. Getting The Most Out Of Your Air-Source Heat Pump

8. FAQs And Responses

9. Final Considerations

Funding Available on a First Come First Served Basis

£4bn in Funding Available

3.5 Million homes are Eligible

1. What Is An Air-Source Heat Pump?

An air-source heat pump is an Eco-friendly way to heat your home. In essence, the pump draws heat from the outside air and pushes it into your home. The system uses a heat exchanger to keep the already existing heating system in your home warm and uses up to 75% less energy while doing so when compared to heating your home using electricity or natural gas. Although electricity costs more than gas, with the rising prices, heat pumps are already cheaper to run than gas boilers, even very efficient ones. 

Where Can I Use A Heat Pump?

A heat pump can be used in any type of property – as a heating for residential high-rise buildings, smaller homes, offices, and even commercial buildings. For as long as it is possible to install one, you can get it. If you apply for the ECO4 scheme, and you qualify, you will be able to save while keeping your home at a reasonable temperature. This is a highly energy-efficient alternative to the bulky heating unit and is likely to make your life much more comfortable. 

Heat pumps provide heating through radiators. Beware that heat pumps are most efficient when combined with a low-temperature heating body, such as a low-temp radiator. This makes them a perfect solution for a vast number of UK households, especially those with good insulation and energy-efficient windows.

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2. Air-Source Heat Pumps: Benefits

Using an air-source heat pump in the UK has many benefits, and being eco-friendly is only one of them. With the rising energy prices and energy poverty that many UK households face today, it is necessary to rethink the way we heat our homes, and the energy savings that you can reach with an appliance like this can help you save a significant amount of money. Other benefits of heating your home with a heat pump include: 

  • Energy savings, 
  • An increased energy efficiency of your home, 
  • Reduced carbon footprint and helping mitigate climate change, 
  • Increased property value, and a higher resale value, and 
  • Improved comfort and health of both you and your family members. 
Energy Savings

One of the biggest benefits of switching your old heater for a heat pump is energy savings. Most heat pumps can easily keep your home warm while using less electricity and costing less overall than alternative sources of heat, such as gas, electric heating or even solid fuel heaters. By switching to a heat pump, you will be able to save as much as 75% on your heating bill and divert the money to where you would rather see it go. 

Increased Energy Efficiency

As heat pumps do not generate heat, but rather extract it from outside air, they are very energy-efficient. The technology that is behind this energy efficiency is similar to the technology that powers your fridge – it extracts heat from food items you place in it, and expels it through the backside radiator. In reality, this approach to heating can produce a maximum of 6 kWh of heat for every 1 kWh of electricity it uses – around 6 times less energy used each day. 

Reduced Carbon Footprint

With higher energy efficiency comes a reduced carbon footprint. With all the talk about climate change and the summer of 2022 being one of the hottest on record in the UK, this is a way to go. Reducing your carbon footprint and switching to a more ecologically conscious way of heating your home is the best thing to do, especially as it helps mitigate climate change, provides higher energy independence for your home, and secures a cooler climate for the generations yet to come. 

Increased Property Value

Recent years have brought about a high interest in ecology and eco-friendly solutions. That being said, energy-efficient homes, with heating systems that consume little electricity are being sought after. This means that your home will increase its value, and many are glad to pay a premium for a lifetime of lower bills. 

Comfort And Improved Indoor Air Quality

Air-source heat pumps are small compared to other heating bodies. They require very little input from the homeowner, and can run for months without a need to tap into settings or replenish the fuel (as there is none). Heat pumps keep the indoor temperature stable throughout the heating season and increase your comfort. They also make for a cleaner indoor air, especially as there are no fuels that burn and release toxic fumes.

3. Air-Source Heat Pumps: Disadvantages

Although there are many advantages to having an air-source heat pump, there are also some disadvantages. The initial cost of installing a pump can be quite high, although ECO 4 can provide funding for the entire cost, leaving you with one less worry on your mind. Furthermore, some state that performance at extremely low temperatures can decrease their energy efficiency and up energy bills, although the mild climate in the UK is a perfect solution for pumps like this. 

Cost Of Air Source Heat Pump Installation

The upfront investment into an air-source heat pump can be very high, but if you apply and get one through the ECO 4 program, you need not worry. The program will cover ALL your expenses, including the installation costs, for as long as you are eligible to do the installation. In reality, you can expect to pay as little as £0.00. Still, even in the case you are not eligible, installing an air-source heat pump is a sane decision, as low maintenance and running expenses will save you money in the long run. 

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Performance In Extremely Cold Temperatures

Most heat pumps are designed to work in conditions where the outside temperature does not fall below -15°C. However, newer models can withstand temperatures of -30°C and even more below the freezing point. Although this is a legitimate concern, all air-source heat pumps have special heaters installed which enable them to work in extremely low temperatures. This means that you will never be left without heating, you will enjoy high energy efficiency all winter long.  

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4. Government Incentives And Subsidies

The energy crisis does not have an equal impact on all UK residents. Those that are often hit the hardest are lower-income households, which may find even simple energy-efficiency measures to be unattainable. To help offset these costs and to further the reach of green measures, the UK government offers the ECO4 scheme. 

ECO4 (Ofgem Grant Scheme) Air Source Heat Pump Grant

The ECO4 scheme, run by Ofgem, is a key component of the UK’s efforts towards achieving net-zero emissions. This program offers householders the opportunity to have energy-efficient measures installed at no cost, making it an excellent opportunity to reduce both energy costs and CO2 emissions. The scheme provides funding for the installation of energy-efficient technologies, including air source heat pumps, to households that meet specific eligibility criteria. 

How Air-Source Heat Pumps Qualify For Funding

Air-Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) can be eligible for funding through the ECO4 scheme. The scheme is designed to help households reach energy and cost savings by having energy-efficient measures installed at zero cost. To qualify for ECO4 funding, a household must meet certain criteria, such as being in receipt of a qualifying benefit or being a low-income household.

To get the most out of the ECO4 scheme, it is recommended to combine the installation of an ASHP with other energy-efficiency solutions, such as internal and cavity wall insulation or solar panels. This will help to further reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions and can lead to even greater energy and cost savings.

It’s important to note that the funding for the ECO4 scheme is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, it is essential to apply for funding as soon as possible to secure your place in the program and take advantage of this opportunity.

Steps To Apply For Funding Through The ECO 4 Scheme

The ECO4 scheme provides a fantastic opportunity for UK residents to receive funding for energy-efficient measures, such as air source heat pumps. Applying for the funding is straightforward, and involves a few simple steps:

  1. Determine Eligibility: To be eligible for ECO4 funding, you must be a homeowner or a tenant living in a privately rented property. The property must also be classed as “hard-to-treat” and have insufficient insulation.
  2. Contact a Supplier: You will need to find an approved supplier who is participating in the ECO4 scheme and can carry out the installation of the air source heat pump.
  3. Assess Your Home: The supplier will carry out an assessment of your home to determine your eligibility for the funding and determine the most appropriate energy-efficiency measures for your property.
  4. Choose your provider: Based on the results of the assessment, you’ll be given a list of approved providers who can install the energy-saving measures.
  5. Sign the contract: Once you’ve chosen your provider, you’ll need to sign a contract and agree to have the work carried out.
  6. Installation and payment: Your chosen provider will then arrange the installation of your heat pump and insulation, and the funding will be applied directly to the cost of the work.

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5. Things To Be Aware Of When Choosing Heat Pump

Choosing any appliance is not a small deal. To ensure that you get the heat pump that you need, make sure to check out the type of heat pump, the size, and the location where it will be installed (as some heat pumps can be quite large), and to see if you need a backup system or not. Being aware of your energy needs can also help a lot.

The Type Of Heat Pump That Best Suits The Household’s Needs

The type of air-source heat pump that a household needs depend on a variety of factors, including the size of the home and the level of insulation. Generally, larger homes will require a larger heat pump, while smaller homes can use a smaller unit. However, even the largest homes can benefit from installing an air-source heat pump due to the significant energy bill savings that it can provide. It’s important to assess the home’s energy usage and take into account the current level of insulation in the home. 

What Size Of Air Source Heat Pump Do I Need

Determining the size of the air source heat pump you need depends on several factors, including the size of your home, the amount of insulation, and the level of heat you need. Larger homes typically require a larger heat pump, as they need more energy to heat the space. It is important to assess your home’s heating requirements to ensure that you select the right size air source heat pump. This can be done by a professional energy assessor or an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) contractor. An average home will need a heat pump in the 6-9 kW wattage range. 

The Location And Type Of Insulation In The Home

The location and type of insulation in the home are key factors in determining the size of the air source heat pump needed. Good insulation helps retain heat, so a smaller heat pump may be sufficient. If the insulation is poor or absent, a larger heat pump may be required to compensate for heat loss. Good loft insulation and thick external wall insulation will generally work better than internal wall insulation and an open loft space. 

6. Installing a ASHP

Installing an ASHP is a complex process and should be entrusted to a professional. Attempting to install the heat pump on your own may cause damage to the appliance, your heating system, and even your electrical network. Never attempt to do this kind of work on your own. 

Who Can Install an ASHP

An ASHP can be installed onto your existing home heating system. In the UK, ASHPs can be installed by any accredited MCS Installer – Microgeneration Certification Scheme Installer. This is to ensure that the appliance is installed appropriately and safely, securing both your security and the security of your device. 

How is an ASHP Installed 

Installing an air source heat pump (ASHP) requires the expertise of a professional. The process typically takes several days and may cause some inconvenience to the customer, as the installation team needs access to various parts of the property. However, the disruption is usually minimal and the installation is completed with minimum fuss. During the installation process, the outdoor unit will be fitted outside the property, while the indoor unit will be fitted inside. The team will also connect the unit to the existing heating and hot water systems, ensuring that the ASHP is fully integrated and ready for use. 

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7. Getting The Most Out Of Your Air-Source Heat Pump

Although a heat pump is an energy-efficient appliance, there are still ways to improve its operation and save even more. Proper cleaning, maintenance, investing in insulation, and even installing a smart thermostat can all help you save significantly. Let’s check them out in more detail. 

Proper Maintenance And Cleaning

Maintaining an air-source heat pump is relatively simple, and mainly involves cleaning the filters and checking the system’s performance. It’s recommended to have a professional carry out an annual service to ensure the system is functioning at its optimal level and to identify any potential issues before they become bigger problems. Cleaning the filters regularly helps to improve the system’s performance and efficiency, reducing the need for repairs or maintenance. In terms of inconvenience, regular maintenance should only take a short amount of time and cause minimal discomfort. 

Upgrading To A Smart Thermostat

Combining a heat pump with a smart thermostat can lead to significant energy savings. The smart thermostat can be programmed to optimize the use of the heat pump, ensuring it runs at its most efficient setting, reducing energy consumption and resulting in lower energy bills. The smart thermostat can also be controlled remotely through a smartphone app, allowing for even greater flexibility and convenience, especially when you will be away for a long time. 

Improving Insulation And Air Sealing In The Home

Improving insulation and air sealing in the home can greatly enhance the performance of a heat pump. An energy-efficient heat pump will still consume a large amount of energy if used to heat a poorly insulated home, resulting in higher energy bills. Combining a heat pump with improved insulation and air sealing can lead to significant energy savings, making it a cost-effective solution for low-income households.

8. FAQs And Responses

The size of air source heat pump that is good for you will depend on the size of your home and the amount of insulation you have. It’s best to consult a professional who can assess your home and help you determine the appropriate size.

An air source heat pump works by extracting heat from the air outside and using it to heat your home. It’s a highly energy-efficient solution that can save you money on your energy bills.

The cost of installing an air source heat pump will vary depending on the size and type of heat pump you need, as well as the location of your home. However, with the ECO4 scheme, you may be eligible for funding to offset some of the cost.

No, an air source heat pump is not expensive to run. In fact, it is one of the most cost-efficient heating solutions available, and can significantly reduce your energy bills compared to traditional heating systems.

9. Final Considerations

Heat pumps are an excellent investment for homeowners looking to improve their energy security and help fight climate change. With the right installation and maintenance, heat pumps can provide clean, efficient, and cost-effective heating and cooling. With government incentives and subsidies, such as the ECO4 scheme, and the combination with other energy-efficient measures, like insulation and air sealing, the upfront cost of a heat pump can be offset, leading to long-term savings on energy bills. 

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