Heat your home carbon free with an air source heat pump

Last updated: 1 month ago

More and more people in the UK are moving towards zero carbon heating, installing an air source heat pump is one of the biggest first steps you can take. 

Air source heat pumps offer low carbon heating because they cool or heat your home with the outside air. They use this air as their primary energy source. They provide an alternative method to heat your house, providing you with a greener substitute to boiler heating systems. You will drastically reduce the carbon your home emits by switching from electricity or a coal-based heating system. If you wish to produce heat and save costs on your energy bills, it might be the perfect solution because they are low maintenance.

What is an air source heat pump & how does it work?

The outside air provides energy for the heat pump regardless of the weather, including extreme cold conditions, which then converts into heat. You can save more with a heat pump if swapping from an electric, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), coal or oil system rather than a gas one. It is essential that your home is well insulated before installing an air source heat pump—or else the generated heat is more readily released.

A compressor unit placed outside absorbs air heat, converting it into a liquid refrigerant then turns it into gas. The pump then uses electricity to compress this gas and heats it in the process. As the heat transmits into your home heating system (hot water, underfloor heating, warm air convectors, and radiators), the gas condenses. The cycle repeats itself. Basically, it’s the reverse of how air-conditioning and fridges work. Although they require electricity to operate, the heat output is higher than the energy input as it extracts renewable heat from the atmosphere, making it energy-efficient.

The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a public funding initiative to support the use of renewable heating. They offer payments to homeowners generating their own heat. Changing to energy-eligible heating systems would help the UK minimize its carbon emissions and fulfil its clean energy carbon free objectives. A considerable number of air source heat pumps are entitled to payment under this government scheme.

The UK Government also released the Green Home Grant scheme late last year to help households make their homes more energy efficient.

Variations of air source heat pumps (ASHPs)

Air source heat pumps are available as air to air and air to water variations.

Air to air

This type will absorb heat from outdoor air, transferring it inside your home to provide heat using a fan or warm air circulation system. This system provides space heating but cannot heat water. It is also not eligible for the RHI scheme.

Air to water

This type absorbs heat from outdoor air transferring it inside your home using the wet central heating system. This system provides underfloor heating, hot water heating, and radiators. In comparison to a standard boiler system, heat pumps are more efficient at lower temperatures, making them more preferable for larger radiators and underfloor heating.

However, these systems are less useful in colder areas as the heat pump requires to work extra hard. Areas with exceptionally colder winters would be more suitable with water and ground source heat pumps.

Pros of ASHPs

  • On average, they will last up to twenty years which is longer than a standard boiler.
  • They are super-efficient, running well with minimal energy waste.
  • They can heat both space and water.
  • Are low maintenance.
  • Can be used for both cooling and heating.
  • Can be powered by solar or wind energy.
  • Are easier to install, more so for retrofit, than ground source heating pumps.
  • They will likely reduce the heating costs of your home.
  • Can work in lower temperatures.
  • Will save you cash on energy bills.
  • In comparison to most conventional heating systems, they produce fewer carbon emissions.
  • They will lower your carbon footprint as they use a renewable resource, air.
  • They are RHI approved.

Cons of ASHPs

  • Your home should already be well insulated and draught-proof to enhance the efficiency of the system.
  • It requires electricity to run, meaning it isn’t entirely zero-carbon unless the energy is generated by a renewable source like a wind turbine or solar power.
  • You may need to spend more to install an underfloor heating system.
  • Comparing to the low price of mains gas, they offer lower savings.
  • They provide a lower heat supply compared to conventional heating systems like boilers.
  • Condenser units may be noisy and may blow out cold air to the immediate atmosphere.
  • Comparing to the conventional air-conditioning unit, you’ll require a lot more space for your external condenser unit.
  • Below 0°c, the efficiency is lower.

Electricity alternatives

Every so often, a power outage is inevitable. It helps to have an alternative energy source, especially during winter. A solar electric system, also known as solar pv or solar photovoltaic, is a great alternative. It absorbs light from the sun and uses it to run appliances. It is similar to solar panels though panels supply electricity on a larger scale. Installation of solar pv systems is easy, and they are durable, lasting over 40 years.

These systems use cells that consist of a single or double layer of semiconducting material that converts solar radiation into electric energy. The most common semiconducting material is silicon, an element closely following in abundance to oxygen.

After the solar pv system generates energy, it can be channelled to a Tesla Powerwall, a battery that detects outages, stores energy, and becomes the energy source for your home automatically upon a power outage. The most significant advantage of using a Tesla Powerwall to a generator is noise reduction, as it will keep your phones charged and lights on without noise, upkeep, or fuel. It helps you keep your appliances running for days when the grid is down.

In conclusion

Consider converting your home and office systems to renewable heating to reduce your carbon footprint and help keep the environment carbon-free. Using an air source heat pump is one of the most effective ways to achieve this. Don’t forget to have an alternative energy source system to ensure a continuous energy supply. Using a renewable energy source will attain this goal of heating your home carbon-free even faster while providing year-round heating and saving money.

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