What is an air to air heat pump?

Heat pumps are an often misunderstood way to condition your home, so in this blog we are going to demystify the air source heat pump and find out if they could be a good option for your home.

How do air to air heat pumps work?

Air source heat pumps have been around for a long time. More people know them by their common name: the air conditioning unit. In the UK, they are more often found in offices than in the home, but they are becoming more popular for domestic properties, particularly in new builds. The difference with modern heat pumps is that they can actually heat a property, as well as cool it.

The unit works by taking in heat from the outside air. This heat is amplified using a compressor and then released into the home. With an air to water heat pump, the heat is transferred to the central heating system and the heat distributed through radiators or underfloor heating. With air to air heat pumps, warm air is emitted directly from the unit.

Of course, with an air to air heat pump, you will need to have ducting around the house to allow the air to circulate. With an air to water system, a conventional radiator or underfloor system will be required.

Are air to air heat pumps good for domestic properties?

Air to air heat pumps are a very efficient way to heat a property. That is why many larger commercial buildings will use a heat pump with integrated ducting to condition a property. They also have the added advantage of being able to cool during the summer and heat during the winter, where central heating systems do not.

Air to air is often not practical for domestic properties because of the additional ducting required, but for a large scale retrofit or new build, it could be a viable option. Using warm air to heat a home is actually really efficient and will get a room warmer much quicker than radiators.

You must remember that whilst air to air heat pumps are pretty efficient, they are usually more expensive to run than a gas central heating system because of the relative price of gas to electricity. We usually recommend sticking with gas central heating if that is available where you live, if cost is the major consideration.

One more thing to remember is that an air to air heat pump will not heat your hot water, whereas an air to water pump can be used to help heat your hot water too. This can save money because immersion heating of hot water is very expensive.

How much do air to air heat pumps cost?

Because central heating is not required, air to air heat pumps will actually cost less to install than an air to water equivalent. The more difficult part of the installation is working out how to include the ducting, as this is not normally considered in a home heating installation. Depending on the size of the property, you will likely be looking at £3-5,000 for the heat pump unit, plus the cost of the ducting.

Are there any grants for heat pumps?

The government’s Renewable Heat Incentive is available for air to water and ground source heat pumps, but not available for air to air pumps. The RHI pays out a few thousand pounds over 7 years following the installation of an air to water heat pump, so it may be worth going for this option once you have crunched the numbers.

There are currently no government grants available for air to air pumps.

Air to air vs. air to water heat pumps

As we have touched on, there are a couple of factors you need to consider when deciding between the two, so we have made a list of pros and cons for you to help decide:

Air to air

  • Cheaper to install than air to water, dependent on the cost of ducting.
  • Provides excellent conditioning of rooms and heats quicker than radiators
  • Can also be sued to cool property as well as heat.

Air to water

  • RHI funding available to help cover cost
  • Can hook up to existing radiators or underfloor in most cases
  • Can heat your hot water as well as central heating

So we hope this has helped you work out what is right for your property. You can more information about heat pumps in our Guides. If you are interested in installing a heat pump, drop us a message and we will be happy to help you find a good installer near you.

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