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Air source heat pumps absorb the heat from the external air for use in radiators, underfloor heating, warm air convectors and to heat water. An air source heat pump extracts heat from the outside in a similar way that a fridge extracts heat from the inside. It is able to get heat from the air even when the temperatures are as low as -15oC. Heat pumps also have little impact on the environment as the heat extracted comes from the ground, air or water it is continuously being renewed naturally.
Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the air at low temperatures turning it into a fluid. This fluid is then passed through a compressor where its temperature is increased and transfers its considerably higher temperature to the heating and hot water circuits of the house. There are two main types of air source heat pumps, the air-to-water system and the air-to-air system. The air-to water system involves distributing heat through a wet central heating system. With this method heat pumps tend to work more efficiently at lower temperatures than standard boilers. This as a result makes them more suitable for under floor heating systems or larger radiators as they give out heat at lower temperatures for longer time. The air-to-air method produces warm air that circulates your home using a fan and is less likely to provide you with hot running water.
There are many advantages to air source heat pumps such as there are lower fuel bills, particularly if you are replacing conventional electric heating systems. There is also the benefit that the potential income comes via the UK government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), lower home carbon emissions, zero fuel deliveries needed. They are easy to install and require minimal maintenance.
However unlike traditional gas and oil boilers air source heat pumps deliver lower heat temperatures for longer periods of times. This is a great advantage as in the cold winter months the temperature can stay constantly warm without costing as much as it would with traditional boilers.
Installing these systems can cost between £7,000 and £11,000 as estimated by the Energy Saving Trust (EST). The cost of running these systems can vary depending on several factors such as the size of your home, how well insulated it is and also the type of room temperatures you are looking to achieve. These are however far cheaper to run than ground source heat pumps. The payback for this depends on how efficiently your system works, the system you’re replacing, whether you can gain money with the RHI and how you will be using the heat.
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