Should You Choose Air Source Heat Pumps For Your Home?
2025 is coming quick, and there are numerous articles out there advising of one heating form or another to take the place of gas boilers. But with so many heating companies and news outlets shouting about their favourite system, it’s hard to think straight over all the noise.
At Warm4Less, we want to cut out all the ruckus. We want to give you honest advice to help you make the right decision for your home.
Previously we have waded in on the Blue Hydrogen debate to give you an honest and insightful rundown of what it is, how it works and what to expect. This time, we’re talking about Heat Pumps, Air Source and Ground Source.
What are they?
Heat Pumps are an alternative, low carbon way of heating your home rather than the conventional gas or electric systems. They offer the ability to generate your own renewable heat and could potentially save you money, too.
An Air Source heat pump takes the heat from outside air and raises the temperature using a compressor, before circulating it through the heating system in your home. (Imagine a fridge, but backwards).
Step 1: The air source heat pump absorbs heat from the outside air into a liquid refrigerant at a low temperature.
Step 2: Using electricity, the pump compresses the liquid to increase its temperature. It then condenses back into a liquid to release its stored heat.
Step 3: Heat is then sent to your radiators and the rest can be stored in your hot water cylinder (Buffer Tank).
Step 4: You can use this stored water for taps, showers, or baths.
A Ground Source heat pump system takes natural heat from the ground by pumping water through buried pipes.
Ground Source systems are made up of a network of water pipes buried underground, known as a ‘Ground Loop’, and a heat pump at ground level.
A water and anti-freeze mixture is pumped through the ground loop, collecting warmth from the ground as it travels.
This mixture is then compressed and put through a heat exchanger, which extracts the heat and moves it to the heat pump. The heat is then pumped through your home heating system.
- Step 1: Ground Source uses fluid to absorb natural heat from the ground.
- Step 2: Using electricity, the fluid is compressed, and the temperature is raised.
- Step 3: Heat is sent to household radiators and the rest is stored in a hot water cylinder (Buffer Tank).
- Step 4: Stored water can be used for taps, showers, or baths.
In theory, these systems are an eco-friendly and cost-effective way of heating your home, especially if run using the Economy 7 tariff. In fact, Heat Pump companies often mention how the pumps can work out much cheaper than using a gas central heating system.
The working out for this is:
“A modern four-bedroom house may need about 19,000 kWh of heat per year (although this may vary).
In gas, this could cost around £874 (90% efficient gas cost of 4.6 kWh multiplied by 19,000 kWh).
Using an air source heat pump and electricity priced at 16p per kWh the cost would be almost identical (16p/kWh divided by coefficient of performance of 3.5, multiplied by 19,000 kWh).
If you did only half of your heating overnight – using the cheap-rate electricity – you could save 25%, which is about £215 – calculated at 2.3p/kWh based on EDF’s GoElectric tariff.
You save 25% because it’s half the cost of gas for half of the time.”
Read full article here: https://www.edfenergy.com/heating/advice/air-source-heat-pump-guide
So EDF are saying they can be cheap to run, but another thing enticing people to install these systems is the promise that they can earn back from their systems by selling on any heat they make but don’t use back to the grid.
Cheap to run and a source of extra income? Sounds great.
The install of a heat pump, dependant upon whether you choose Air or Ground Source can be expensive. But as with most products, there are some suppliers who sell cheaper systems and some who are at the top end of the price bracket.
Depending on which system you choose and which company you go with, Heat Pumps can cost anywhere from £4,000 to £8,000, and the install can be anywhere from £5,000 to £10,000. However, the Government is offering a £5,000 subsidy for anyone willing to install a Heat Pump system into their property as part of their campaign to be Net Zero by 2050.
This means that in a best-case scenario, you are only putting £4,000 of your own money into this system.
Now £4,000 for a complete heating system doesn’t sound all that bad, right?
The issue when it comes to install is that it is recommended that at the time of installation, you should increase your property’s insulation level as Heat Pumps don’t work very well in low insulated houses. In addition to this, you may also need to increase the size of the radiators currently in your property. Both of these things can increase the cost considerably.
Unlike conventional heating systems which are located within the home, the fans and tanks involved in a Heat Pump system are advertised as being installed outside the property, so many people are attracted to them as they will allow for more room inside the home.
However, the units are large and noisy. By placing them outside, not only are they unattractive but a popular complaint against the systems is that they cause a noise disturbance for neighbours.
Not only this, but to install the systems is invasive and messy, with both plumbers and electricians being required to wire the system through the existing hot pipes in the walls.
Along with this, to benefit from having hot water powered by the Heat Pumps, households require something called a ‘Buffer Tank’ or water cylinder. This tank is the size of a standard boiler.
So not only do you have an invasive install which leaves you with large, unattractive, and noisy units outside, you still need to have a form of boiler inside the house.
So that extra cupboard space you’ve been wanting is out of the question!
Whilst Air Source systems are rated for around 20 years of use, it is recommended by numerous sites that they receive a maintenance check every 3-4 years or annually if your system uses a compressor.
Going back to the description of how both systems work, in each system, a compressor is required to ensure the system can generate heat. This compressor requires a yearly maintenance check to ensure they are running properly.
These maintenance checks can cost upwards of £2,000 a year, and many people have found that this cost cancels out any savings or earnings they have made from the system, even costing them more than what they’re actually getting from the system.
Something that numerous Heat Pump sites recommend is that not only do you need to increase the insulation level of your property to accommodate the pumps, but you should also install a secondary form of heating as the pumps are known to struggle in lower temperatures!
Often, under-floor heating is recommended to help the heat pumps get to a comfortable temperature.
So you can be paying anywhere upwards of £4,000 (after your government subsidy) for a system which requires an invasive install, increased insulation level and a secondary form of heating which you receive no subsidy for.
Everyone wants to do their bit for the planet, but we shouldn’t have to sacrifice being warm or having an affordable heating system to do this.
Although in principle heat pumps have their benefits, once put into practice they aren’t the most sophisticated or accommodating system available.
The installation is messy and expensive, and the units themselves are bulky, loud and unattractive. In addition to this, they aren’t as cheap to run as companies insist they are.
If everyone is advising that you add in extra insulation and a secondary heating form, it must be because the system itself is not effective enough on its own.
Even if you set out to use the Economy 7 tariff, you would eventually need to run the system outside of the cheap times to get the heat required from it. Alternatively, you would need to run another heating system alongside it. This would mean running times would be longer, increasing costs, or you would have two systems running at once, again increasing costs.
Not only do these factors contribute to higher running costs, but with an annual maintenance fee, this will be supping any additional savings you’ve potentially made.
There are also the aesthetics to consider as although we may not want to admit it, image is important to many of us, and having an attractive system is just as high on the list as running costs and installation costs. With chunky units, with large fans, grates and pipes, Heat Pumps are not an attractive system in any shape or form. There are also many cases of neighbours filing noise complaints against the systems, so if you like your neighbours, it’s probably not a great route to take.
So, What Now?
So, if Heat Pumps don’t appeal to you after this article, I’m sure you’re wondering what options you have for an eco-friendly, subtle, stylish system that really will save you money and work.
At Warm4Less, our Far Infrared heaters tick all the boxes! With a sleek and modern design, our heaters are eco-friendly, cost-effective to run, and the install is easy-peasy!
Far Infrared systems are becoming more and more popular in the green community as they are electric, without the running costs associated with electric systems. Our panels will also work on variable loading to fit in with your solar array, and if you get in touch, we will do all the leg work to make the transition from your current system as simple as possible.
Give us a call today on 01205 821 796 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on your quote!