Air to Air Heat Pumps Costs, Pros & Cons (UK)

Last updated: November 15, 2023

With the government’s net zero goals of 2050 and the recent launch of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, you like many others are probably considering installing an air source heat pump.

So how exactly do air to air heat pumps compare? What are their limitations, costs and what else should you be aware of?

Here we will answer the most frequently asked questions regarding air to air heat pumps, so that you can understand whether or not they are the best option for your home.

How do Air to Air Heat Pumps Work?

Air to air heat pumps are one of two major types of air source heat pumps, the other being an air to water heat pump.

Air to air heat pumps are installed on the outside of the home and effectively absorb heat from the outside air and then pump it back into your home using a fan system, hence the name “air to air”.

Quick fact: often air to air heat pumps are simply referred to as “air conditioning”.

The major advantage of this system is that it can also run in reverse e.g. it can absorb heat from the inside air of your home and pump it outside, which is very useful during warmer the summer months.

Air to Air Vs. Air to Water Heat Pumps

There are two main types of air source heat pumps available for domestic installation, these are as follows:

  • Air to air heat pumps – these absorb heat from the outdoor air and distribute it into your home via a fan system.
  • Air to water heat pumps – these absorb heat from the outdoor air and distribute it into your home using a west system e.g. central heating and/or underfloor heating.
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Air to Air Vs Air to Water Heat Pumps

In terms of whether to choose an air to air or air to water heat pump, it’s important to be aware of their pros, cons and limitations.

In general, an air to water heat pump is the go to system in the UK as it is able to be installed with traditional wet central heating systems and can provide both heating and hot water.

For illustration, according to the English Housing Survey, around 90% of households in the UK utilise central heating with radiators as their primary heat source.

As a result, if you reside in the UK and have an existing central heating system, you will likely want a heat pump that is compatible with your heating system.

Advantages of Air to Air Heat Pumps

Now you know the advantages of installing an air to water heat pump, you are probably who would be interested in an air to air heat pump?

Air to air heat pumps do have some inherent and unique advantages, these include the following:

  • Ability to provide both heating and cooling, ideal for year round climate control.
  • They are much cheaper to buy and install than air to water heat pump systems.
  • They can help you save space in your home since they do not require the use of radiators, so you can potentially remove them providing you with more space.
  • Air to air heat pumps are very efficient and have a seasonal efficiency rating (SCOP) reaching 3.0-4.0. This means that for every 1 kW of electricity used 3 to 4 kW of heat is produced.

Disadvantages of Air to Air Heat Pumps

Unfortunately, air to air heat pumps are not perfect systems and have a number of drawbacks you should be aware of, including the following:

  • They will not heat your water, so you will need to consider another system to meet your hot water demands.
  • They are not compatible with traditional wet central heating systems, so if your plan is to replace your gas boiler and continue as normal, they are not suitable.
  • They are not eligible for government funding via the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS).
  • They can be expensive to run, this is especially true when outside temperatures plummet to -10°C or below, in which case their electric power consumption generally increases by a large margin.
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Air to Air Heat Pump Costs in the UK

The average cost of an air to air heat pump in the UK is between £1,500 and £4,000.

The exact price you pay for the air to air heat pump unit depends on the brand and warranty of the unit.

Air to Air Heat Pump Installation Costs

As well as the cost of the heat pump unit itself, you will also need to consider the cost of the installation.

The good news is that compared to air to water installation costs, their install costs are relatively inexpensive, since it is a much more straightforward process.

Can You Use the Boiler Upgrade Scheme for an Air to Air Heat Pump?

Unfortunately, you can not apply for the boiler upgrade scheme for the purchase and/or installation of an air to air heat pump.

The boiler upgrade scheme can only be used for the installation of a new Ground Source Heat Pump or an Air to Water Heat Pump.

How Efficient are Air to Air Heat Pumps?

Like all heat pumps, air to air heat pumps are incredibly efficient.

Many air to air heat pumps have a seasonal efficiency rating (SCOP) reaching 3.0-4.0. This means that for every 1 kW of electricity used 3 to 4 kW of heat is produced.

Air to Air Heat Pumps FAQ

Here are some of the most common questions regarding air to air heat pumps:

Will an air to air heat pump save you money?

Possibly but the actual operating costs of the heat pump will depend on a number of factors including the design of the unit and how it is used.

See also  Electricity Generation Sources UK (2024)

In reality, there is no reliable data available for air to air heat pump operation costs in the UK, so it’s very difficult to predict how much you may end up paying.

To get a better idea of how much a new heating system will cost to run it’s always advised that you consult an independent installer who will be able to assess your home and the the system you are thinking of installing.

Do Air to Air Heat Pumps work below freezing?

Air source heat pumps including air to air heat pumps are generally designed to operate at temperatures as low as -15°C.

However, for households that are in regions where there are fluctuating sub-zero temperatures, it’s generally advised to opt for a ground source heat pump instead.

This is because air source heat pumps rely on the outside temperature of the air so are very sensitive to fluctuations, which can result in performance fluctuations and increased running costs.

On the other hand, ground source heat pumps do not rely on the air, but instead the temperature of the Earth, which is much more consistent.