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Can Air Source Heat Pumps cool your home?

Air source heat pumps are one of the best ways to heat your home dependably, comfortably, and without having to worry about gas in your home, you’ll also not have to worry about emissions as heat pumps produce no CO2!

But can ASHPs also cool your home? Some indeed can, but this function comes with particular downsides that mean they’re not always desirable for all areas.

Here is what you need to know:

Air source heat pumps move heat

The most important piece of information to begin with is that heat pumps move energy from one place to another (read all about how they work here) – in much the same way that a fridge keeps itself cold by taking heat from inside the fridge and releasing it outside. However, heat pumps work the other way around; they extract heat from the outside air and transfer it into your home.

Air-to-air heat pumps are reversible

Because air conducts heat quite well, it’s quite straightforward to reverse this process in air-to-air heat pump systems. You can either move heat into your home in order to warm it up, or move heat out of your home to cool it down. This is how a lot of air conditioners work – these types are often referred to as “HVAC” systems..

Importantly, air doesn’t enter or leave your home with these systems, it’s just the heat from the air that’s transferred.

Can I get an air-to-air heat pump?

While you absolutely can get an air-to-air heat pump, this is something you may want to avoid doing in the UK for several reasons.

The first is cost

The government BUS grant (which is currently very generous) doesn’t cover air-to-air heat pumps.

This is because the intention with the BUS grant is to reduce overall energy consumption across the country, but switching to air-to-air systems means that energy consumption essentially increases as homeowners use electricity to heat their homes in the winter and use more electricity to cool their homes in the summer.

They’re awkward to retrofit in UK homes

Secondly, almost all UK homes are heated through water-based central heating – so switching your heating system means you need to pull up all your floors in order to remove the heating pipes and/or install bulky ducting or multiple in-room units around your home.

This is much more challenging and time consuming for installers to do, so significantly increases the cost of installation.

You then need another way to heat water

Thirdly, air-to-air systems can only heat (or cool) your home’s air – which is great for the ambient temperature but then means you need a completely different system to heat your water for showers, baths, and sinks.

This, in turn, further increases energy consumption and installation costs while also making maintenance more complex; after all, you’ll now have to organise maintenance of two systems.

They’re not especially necessary

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, they’re not usually necessary in UK domestic properties because of our climate. While we may get a few weeks of high heat, our summers rarely get as scorching as they do in places like California, Greece, or southern Spain. So it’s a great deal of work and a significant investment to refit a home’s heating for the sake of a few hot days a year.

What’s the alternative?

Heating your home with water-based central heating has worked perfectly well for over 50 years, so why change that? What you can change is the source of your heat. 

Make the switch from gas to an air-to-water heat pump – these replace your gas boiler with a super efficient and dependable way to heat radiators and tap water, and they can be powered by zero carbon tariffs for a truly green home.

Learn more about air-to-water heat pumps here.

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