air source heat pumps

Compared with a traditional boiler, air source heat pumps provide greater efficiency by supplying heat over a longer time period at a lower temperature. This makes air source heat pump costs approximately 4-6 times cheaper than oil.

Unlike oil, there is no delivery of fuel needed as heat pumps use a small amount of electricity to generate heat. They also require very little maintenance and often referred to as a ‘fit and forget’ solution to home heating.

Air source heat pumps – pros and cons

Pros Cons
Works down to temperatures of minus 15 degrees Celsius. Works best with underfloor heating but can still be effective when used with radiators.
Can be used to heat water for use within the home. The unit can be noisy when running (similar to that of an air-conditioning unit)
Low maintenance Requires a small amount of electricity to power the system.
Very little space required. The unit can be installed on the side of house which means no space is lost within the home. Although small, the unit will need to be placed outside, which means a garden or a suitable balcony is needed.
Works down to temperatures of minus 15 Celsius.
When replacing electricity, oil or solid fuel, air source heat pumps can save up to £350 a year off an average energy bill. It is not likely to be a viable option if the property is connected to mains gas.
Planning permission is not required in most cases. Your home will need to be insulated to a high standard in order to realise the energy savings.

The Renewable heat incentive will launch in the summer of 2014 and will pay you a tariff for the heat generated from your air source heat pump (similar to the feed-in tariff for solar panels). Those home owners who received a grant towards their system will still eligible to receive the RHI tariff when it is launched. Visit our air source heat pump reviews page to learn about specific models.

Further information


  • Home should be well insulated
  • Not ideal for homes on mains gas
  • Space required for unit outside

For maximum efficiency, your home will need to have adequate loft insulation already installed to prevent heat from escaping. Windows and doors should also be draught proofed.

If your existing heating system uses gas, you are unlikely to see any financial benefit from installing an air source heat pump. However, replacing a electric, coal or oil system is recommended as a heat pump should work out to be cheaper in the long-run.

Typically, an air source heat pump will suit most properties, but a heat pump installer will require a survey to be carried to ensure your property is suitable as this will vary.

Planning permission

In most circumstances heat pumps do not require planning permission, however it is recommended that you seek advice prior to installing a system. The property must not be located in a conservation area and there is no wind turbine installed on the property.

Air source heat pumps can generate a low level of noise that may cause disturbance to neighbours. You may also wish to discuss with the heat pump installer who will advise you on the likely decibel level.

What size air source heat pump will I need?


1kw for every 10m2 of your home.

You need to work out the number of watts you will require for your home to be adequately heated. Generally it is worked out at 1kW for every 10 metres squared of your home. However, if you live in a colder part of the country or have poor insulation you may want to increase this ratio.

The average heat loss associated with your home should be worked out by a professional before you make your purchase. However it is generally accepted that a new build home will lose 50kW, a refurbished home will lose 70kW and a home with no insulation can lose as much as 100kW.

Take the number of kW lost and multiply that by the square footage of the home divided by 1000. This will give an approximate figure which can then be referenced against any further losses resulting from the location and type of heating used. This will then allow you to find out the size air source pump required.

Of course this is very approximate as so many factors need to be taken into account. Your supplier will be able to give you a more detailed assessment of your home.

How much do air source heat pumps cost?

  • Air source heat pump costs are likely to fall between £5,000 and £9,000 depending on the size of system required.
  • Savings of up to £350 off heating bills.
  • Find local air source heat pump installers to receive a quote

It will depend entirely on your heating requirements, the size of property and how much work is involved to install the system.

Air source heat pumps are likely to cost between £5,000 and £9,000 and an air source heat pump installer will be able to provide a more accurate quote based on your property.

It is essential to ensure your home has adequate loft insulation as this will greatly affect the pay-back period.

How does an air source heat pump work?

Air source heat pumps extract heat from the air, even at freezing temperatures, and pump this back into your radiators or under floor heating within your property.

An air source heat pump works in a similar way to refrigerator, whereby heat from the air is absorbed into a fluid when is then pumped into a heat exchanger. The system then extracts the heat and concentrates it with a compressor until it is hot enough to send to your hot water system or radiators.

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