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Discover air source heat pumps, learn how they work, types, installation, costs, and available grants for greener homes.

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A guide to air source heat pumps

Are you looking for an eco-friendly and efficient way to heat your home? Think air source heat pumps (ASHPs).  We’re here to demystify ASHPs, so you can make an informed decision about integrating this energy-efficient and cooling technology into your home. 

From understanding the working principles and types of ASHPs to assessing installation costs and exploring financial incentives and grants, we've got you covered. Whether you're a homeowner looking to reduce your carbon footprint, lower energy bills, or enhance home comfort, ASHPs might just be the answer.

Once you know an air source heat pump is a suitable choice for your home, find a great deal on installation with SpotDif. Our ASHP comparison tool lets you explore and compare air-source heat pump suppliers from across the UK.

Heat pumps

How do air source heat pumps work?

Air source heat pumps are innovative devices that use the natural heat present in the outdoor air to provide heating and hot water for your home. The key components of an ASHP include an outdoor unit, an indoor unit, and a refrigerant. 

As you might imagine, ASHPs work in a different way to ground source heat pumps — let’s break the process down.

Absorbing heat

The outdoor unit of the ASHP contains a fan that draws in air. Even in cold weather, there's heat energy present in the air. The refrigerant in the outdoor unit absorbs this heat.


The absorbed heat causes the refrigerant to turn into a gas. A compressor then increases the temperature of this gas.

Heat exchange

The hot gas is passed through a coil in the indoor unit, releasing the heat into your home's heating system.


The now-cooled refrigerant returns to the outdoor unit to start the process all over again. This cycle continues efficiently, providing consistent warmth to your home, even in winter.

Types of air source heat pumps

When it comes to heating your home, air source heat pumps (ASHPs) are a smart and energy-efficient choice. But did you know there are two types: air-to-air and air-to-water? Each serves a unique purpose. Let's explore how they differ and what they're best for.

Air-to-air heat pumps

Think of these as an all-in-one climate control solution for your home. They transfer heat from the outside air to the inside air. In summer, they work just like traditional air conditioning systems, keeping your home cool. Then during colder months, they reverse the process, providing warm air.

These systems are a great fit if you're looking for both heating and cooling without the need for a separate water-based heating system. They're efficient, versatile, and perfect for homes without existing radiators or underfloor heating.

Air-to-water heat pumps

Air-to-water ASHPs, on the other hand, transfer heat from the outside air into a water-based heating system inside your home. This makes them ideal for houses with underfloor heating or traditional radiator systems.

These systems excel in efficiently distributing heat throughout your home. They're particularly well-suited to properties with larger heating demands or those looking to maximise the efficiency of their underfloor heating systems. Unlike air-to-air pumps, they don't provide cooling, but they're champions in creating a cosy, evenly heated space.

Air source heat pump

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Comparison with other heating systems

Wondering how ASHPs stack up against traditional heating systems like gas oil, or electric boilers? Here's a quick comparison of how air source heat pumps compare to other systems. 

Efficiency: ASHPs are highly efficient, as they don't generate heat — they merely transfer it from the outside air. This can lead to lower energy bills.

Environmental impact: Air source heat pumps are eco-friendly, producing fewer carbon emissions compared to fossil fuel-based systems.

Versatility: ASHPs can also cool your home during the summer, acting as air conditioners.

Space-saving: An airSHPs are compact and don't require a fuel storage area, making them ideal for homes with limited space.

5 Signs that air source heat pumps are right for you and your property

If you're considering adopting air source heat pumps (ASHPs) for your property, you're on the path to a more sustainable and energy-efficient heating and cooling solution. ASHPs can be a perfect fit for many homeowners, but how do you know if they're the right choice for you and your property? Here are five signs that ASHPs might be the ideal solution.

You seek energy efficiency

ASHPs are renowned for their energy efficiency. If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint and lower energy bills, these systems are designed to provide high levels of energy efficiency. They harness the heat from the outdoor air, making the most of renewable energy sources, and can significantly reduce your heating and cooling costs.

Your property has adequate insulation

While ASHPs work well in various settings, having good insulation in your property is essential to maximise their efficiency. If your home is well-insulated, ASHPs can maintain comfortable temperatures effectively, ensuring that you make the most of their heating and cooling capabilities.

You value versatility

ASHPs not only provide efficient heating during winter but can also cool your home in the summer, acting as both a heating and cooling system. If you value year-round comfort and versatility, ASHPs offer a two-in-one solution that adapts to your needs.

You're interested in environmental responsibility

ASHPs have a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional heating systems, as they rely on renewable energy sources. If you're environmentally conscious and want to contribute to a greener planet, ASHPs align perfectly with your values.

You qualify for government grants

Many governments offer financial incentives and grants to encourage homeowners to adopt ASHPs. If you qualify for such grants, you can offset a significant portion of the upfront installation costs, making ASHPs a cost-effective choice.

Before making a decision, it's advisable to consult with a qualified HVAC professional who can assess your property's suitability for ASHP installation. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances and help you make an informed choice.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of air source heat pumps?

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) have gained popularity as a sustainable and efficient heating and cooling solution for homes and businesses. However, like any technology, they come with both advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before making a decision.


Energy efficiency

ASHPs are highly energy-efficient because they don't generate heat but instead transfer it from the outdoor air to the indoor space. This can result in significant energy savings, lower utility bills, and reduced carbon emissions.


ASHPs can both heat and cool your property, providing year-round comfort. This versatility eliminates the need for separate heating and cooling systems, saving space and installation costs.

Environmentally friendly

ASHPs use renewable energy sources, making them environmentally friendly. They produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional heating systems, contributing to a greener planet.

Low operating costs

While the upfront installation cost can be relatively high, ASHPs generally have lower operating costs than traditional heating systems. This means long-term savings on your energy bills.

Government incentives

Many governments offer financial incentives, tax credits, and grants to encourage the adoption of ASHPs. These incentives can offset the initial investment and make ASHPs more affordable.


Upfront cost

The initial cost of purchasing and installing an ASHP can be higher than traditional heating systems like gas or oil boilers. However, the long-term savings can often offset this initial expense.

Climate dependency

ASHPs work best in moderate climates. In extremely cold weather, their efficiency may decrease, potentially leading to increased energy consumption.


While modern ASHPs are designed for quiet operation, they can still produce some noise, which may be a concern for homeowners who are sensitive to sound.

Space requirements

ASHPs require outdoor and indoor units, which can take up space on your property. Adequate space for installation is essential for proper functioning.


ASHPs require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. This includes tasks like cleaning filters and checking refrigerant levels. While maintenance costs are relatively low, they should be considered.

Get a Free Air Source Heat Pump Quote

Utilise our comparison tool to start exploring the perfect air source heat pump for your home, or reach out to us today to learn more about the benefits of air source heat pumps and available financial support. 

What sets top air source heat pumps apart?

When it comes to ASHPs, not all units are created equal. Let's explore what sets top-quality ASHPs apart from the rest.

Performance and efficiency

The efficiency of an ASHP is measured by its Coefficient of Performance (COP). A higher COP indicates better performance. Top ASHPs boast impressive COPs, meaning they provide more heat energy for every unit of electricity consumed.

Quiet operation

Quality ASHPs are designed for quiet operation, ensuring they won't disrupt your peace and quiet.

Smart features

Some ASHPs come with advanced features such as programmable timers, Wi-Fi connectivity, and smartphone apps for remote control, making it easier to manage your heating and cooling.


Top brands often come with warranties and excellent customer support, giving you peace of mind in case of any issues.

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How much do air source heat pumps cost?

If you’re thinking about the cost of installing air source heat pumps, then you’re not alone. When you’re switching to a different heating system, the most important for many people is how much it will cost to get air source heat pumps installed, and up and running. 

Initial ASHP unit investment

The upfront cost of an air source heat pump unit includes the unit itself and installation. The price of the ASHP unit itself is a significant portion of the installation cost. ASHP units come in various sizes and models, and their cost can range from £4,000 to £8,000 or more, depending on capacity and features. 

High-efficiency models may be pricier but can result in long-term energy savings. While it might be higher than traditional systems, remember the long-term savings on energy bills and potential grants.

Installation costs

Hiring a professional ASHP installer is crucial for a successful installation. Installation costs typically range from £1,000 to £3,000, depending on the complexity of the installation, your location, and the specific requirements of your property. Proper installation ensures the system operates efficiently and effectively.

Running costs

While not an upfront cost, it's essential to consider the ongoing running costs of your ASHP. ASHPs are generally more energy-efficient than traditional heating systems, potentially leading to lower energy bills over time. Be sure to factor in the expected savings when assessing the overall cost of ownership.

Maintenance costs

ASHPs require regular maintenance to ensure they operate at peak efficiency. Maintenance costs are relatively low, typically ranging from £100 to £200 per year. This includes tasks like cleaning filters and inspecting refrigerant levels. Proper maintenance helps extend the lifespan of your ASHP and maximise its performance.

Where can I get financial support or grants for heat pumps?

Financial support and grants for air source heat pumps (ASHPs) are available to encourage homeowners to adopt this eco-friendly heating and cooling technology. Here's where you can explore these opportunities:

Government grants

Many governments offer grants and incentives to promote ASHP installation. These grants can significantly reduce the upfront cost of purchasing and installing an ASHP. Check with your local government or energy authority to see if you qualify for any grants.

Utility companies

Some utility companies provide rebates or discounts for homeowners who switch to energy-efficient ASHPs. Contact your utility provider to inquire about any available incentives.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

In some regions, the Renewable Heat Incentive provides financial support to homeowners who install renewable heating systems like ASHPs. The RHI offers payments over several years, helping you recover your investment.

Energy efficiency programs

Various energy efficiency programs and initiatives may offer financial support for ASHP installations. These programs aim to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable heating solutions.


Compare air source heat pumps with SpotDif

Unlock your ideal air source heat pump solution tailored to your home's needs with SpotDif’s dedicated comparison platform. We specialise in simplifying the selection process for air source heat pumps, focusing on your unique requirements for efficient heating, cooling, and cost-effectiveness. Our extensive industry expertise enables us to direct you towards grants and funding options, reducing the financial impact of adopting an air source heat pump. Trust SpotDif to help you find the right air source heat pumps that not only aligns with your home's needs but also fits within your budget, ensuring you enjoy energy-efficient comfort without straining your finances.
Frequently Asked Questions
Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist
Combining in-depth research with an interest in all things home improvement, I aim to keep SpotDif readers up to date with interior design trends, renewable energy options, and more.

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