If you’re looking at installing an air source heat pump, this guide will explain everything you need to know about the installation process.
Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air to provide your home with heating and hot water, even when the air is below freezing. They work similarly to a refrigerator (but in reverse), producing heat rather than a coolant. Because air source heat pumps do not rely on fossil fuels to heat your home, they are greener heating solutions with a significantly lower carbon footprint than conventional heating systems.
When sized and installed correctly, an air source heat pump will meet all your heating and hot water requirements and can give you up to twenty years of trouble-free operation. But what happens during the installation process, and how much will it cost to install one?
This guide explains what installing an air source heat pump entails and what you can expect to pay to get one installed.
Who can install an air source heat pump?
You should hire an installer certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MSC) to install your air source heat pump, so the first step is to search for one that covers your local area. Whilst there is no legal requirement for an installer to have a certification, using an MSC approved installer ensures they are technically safe and competent and your heat pump is sized correctly for your property.
When choosing an installer, we recommend you get at least three quotes before agreeing to use a company, then go with the one you feel you can trust. It’s also a good idea to read customer reviews to check satisfaction levels and make an informed decision.
What happens before the installation work starts?
Once you have chosen an installer, they will inspect your property to ensure your home is suitable for an air source heat pump and the most appropriate solution is recommended for your needs. The installer will assess various things, including the size of your property, how well insulated your home is, and your heating requirements.
When the assessment is complete, the installer will create a report with sketches to help them complete the installation work as efficiently as possible. They will then recommend an appropriate type and size of air source heat pump for your home and needs.
Will I need planning permission before installing an air source heat pump?
The first installation of an air source heat pump is usually permitted development, meaning you do not need to apply for planning permission. You will, however, require the consent of your local authority before the installation if you live in a listed building, world heritage site or conservation area or you have an existing wind turbine on or within the curtilage of the property.
If you’re unsure whether you require planning permission, always play it safe and contact your local planning authority for further guidance.
What happens during the installation?
The actual air source heat pump is installed somewhere outside your home on a flat concrete base, usually at the back or side of your property. Your installer will ensure the unit has plenty of space around it with no obstructions to allow for sufficient airflow. They will then need to connect the correct size return and flow heating pipes and electrical cables to the unit whilst outside. Once complete, your installer will move inside your home to carry out the rest of the work.
Your installer will connect your new system to your radiators or underfloor heating when working inside your property. The installer may advise you to replace your radiators, something they will do for you, before connecting to your new air source heat pump. They will also install any sensors, controls and thermostats before tidying up and talking you through how your new system works.
How long does it take to install an air source heat pump?
The time it takes for your installer to complete the work will depend on the size of your air source heat pump and how much work is involved. It usually takes around two or three days to complete the process, and your installer will tell you how long it will take them to carry out the installation before they start the job.
How much will it cost to install an air source heat pump?
A typical air source heat pump installation will cost between £5,000 and £11,000, but the only way to know for sure is to get an installer to complete an initial survey. The cost depends on several factors, like the size of the heat pump and the complexity of the work.
The good news is that there is a way to reduce the total cost of installing an air source heat pump if you get one fitted between April 2022 and April 2025, thanks to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). This UK government-run scheme offers upfront capital grants of £5,000 for homeowners who want to replace their fossil fuel boilers and install air source heat pumps.
You may be eligible for a Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant if you own your property, live in England or Wales and have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with no outstanding loft or cavity wall insulation recommendations. Also, your installer must be MSC certified and will apply for the grant on your behalf.
What about maintenance costs?
A good quality, well-installed air source heat pump can last for at least 20 years and requires relatively little maintenance. You can carry out visual checks yourself, such as inspecting the pipework insulation for leaks and ensuring the outdoor unit is free of leaves and debris. All non-visual maintenance checks will require the expertise of a qualified engineer.
You will likely need to contact an experienced engineer to carry out an annual service on your air source heat pump to keep the manufacturer’s warranty intact. The cost of servicing a standard-sized air source heat pump is between £150 and £200, but the price could be more or less depending on where you live.