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  • Cut your carbon footprint

Are Air Source Heat Pumps Worth It in 2022?

 An air source heat pump can save you £1,760 over its lifetime

You can save £5,000 on installation costs with the Boiler Upgrade Scheme

Getting a heat pump can shrink your carbon footprint by 44%

With gas boilers soon set to be banned in newly built houses, air source heat pumps are poised to take up a large part of the slack – and it’s clear to see why.

One of these machines could save you money, slash your carbon emissions, and cool and heat your home.

They’re also extremely considerate – they operate so quietly you’ll barely hear them, and they fit neatly on the outside of your home, instead of taking up room inside.

It’s absolutely worth getting an air source heat pump – and below, we’ll give you the details as to why.

Want to skip the reading? You can compare the best heat pumps on the market by popping a few details about your home in our easy-to-use quote tool. We’ll pass on your details to our expert suppliers, who’ll send you free quotes for you to compare.

air source heat pump by house

Are air source heat pumps worth it?

Yes. An air source heat pump will typically save you £1,760 over its lifetime, compared to a gas boiler – which means you can actually cut your costs by going green.

This is down to a combination of rising gas prices, the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the gas boiler ban, the increasing efficiency of heat pumps, and the need to replace a boiler after 10 years – unlike a heat pump, which generally lasts 20 years.

You should also take into account whether you'll need to change your radiators or install underfloor heating, which could add to your expenses.

Let’s look at each of these factors in turn.

1. The changing cost of energy

Air source heat pumps are usually 300% more efficient than gas boilers (and up to 500% more efficient), but they’re powered by electricity, which currently costs 28p per kWh in the UK – four times more than gas’s 7p per kWh price.

However, the times are changing. The price of wholesale gas has risen by 335% over the past 12 months, causing millions of homes to pay hundreds of pounds more every year – and it’s expected to keep climbing.

The average price of gas will be 50% higher in 2030, according to the independent Climate Change Committee – which is considerably more expensive than it is today.

And while gas prices increase, electricity is getting cheaper.

We haven’t included this in our calculations as it’s a prediction for 2050, but the government’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) estimates electricity will cost 12.8p per kWh at that point.

The NIC predicts the average price could even fall to 11.7p per kWh if heat pumps become particularly popular, which would be a 58% reduction on the current level.

These changes are what's making 60% of UK residents want to switch from gas boilers to a renewable alternative.

And you could save even more money by investing in solar panels to supply power for both your heat pump and electricity needs.

2. Government grants

The government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) closed in March 2022.

If you secured access to the RHI before then, the government will send you quarterly payments for seven years, based on the amount of electricity your air source heat pump is estimated to produce.

The last RHI tariff was 10.92p per kWh, which compares favourably to the top Smart Export Guarantee rate of 7.5p per kWh.

In April 2022, the RHI was replaced by the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. The new scheme will subsidise your air source heat pump installation by £5,000, and your new ground source heat pump by £6,000.

Considering an air source heat pump usually costs £10,000 to buy and install (though costs can rise depending on the heating setup of your home), you could get an excellent machine for half-price – a saving which will pay off in spades.

Heating your home with a gas boiler will typically cost you £28,600 in total over 20 years, while using the average air source heat pump will set you back £27,640 – a saving of £1,760.

This is partly because a heat pump only needs to be replaced every 20 years, while a gas boiler should be replaced every 10 years.

So heating your home with gas will mean you paying another £4,000 at a time when a heat pump would just be entering the second half of its lifetime.

Even with gas currently being cheaper than electricity, a heat pump will be cheaper overall.

There are also a handful of other grants that are available to low-income families across the UK. Want to find out more? Head to our page on government grants for air source heat pumps.

3. The gas boiler ban

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme has clearly been created with the gas boiler ban in mind (along with the related target to install 600,000 heat pumps in homes each year by 2028), even though the government has refused to commit to an exact date for the ban.

In November 2020, Downing Street announced the ban would start in 2023 before backtracking and saying there had been a “mix-up.”

The spokesperson also told BBC News that the Prime Minister’s Office had “consulted on introducing this by 2025 and will set out further details in due course.”

When asked by The Eco Experts if there was a set date for the gas boiler ban yet, a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson responded: “We do not comment on speculation.

“We will set out plans to decarbonise heat and buildings through our comprehensive strategy this year, and our approach will be guided by ensuring the transition is fair, affordable and practical.”

It now appears that the ban will arrive in 2035 – with a total stop to gas heating expected by 2040 – so it makes sense to take advantage of government initiatives to get in line with the new rules. Many Brits have welcomed the news, as 62% of UK residents claim they want the government to invest in green power and move away from gas.

If you want to speed up the process of finding your perfect heat pump, just use our quote comparison tool, and our experts will get in touch with their best prices.

4. Growing demand and increasing efficiency

While announcing the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the government pointed to the increasing popularity of heat pumps.

“We expect that the majority of applicants are likely to opt for air source heat pumps to transition to low carbon heat, as these are lower cost than other low carbon heat alternatives,” it explained.

“This also reflects the pattern under the RHI, where 81.5% of accredited domestic installations in 2019 were air source heat pumps.”

It’s likely that as demand rises, supply will too, which should significantly reduce air source heat pump costs over the next few years.

Heat pumps are also becoming more and more efficient. The average rate is 300%, but the top models have already hit 500%, which would net you an even higher amount of energy bill savings over a machine’s lifetime.

Put this together with the imminent gas boiler ban, and it just makes sense to get a heat pump.

Will you need to change your radiators?

Most homes will need larger radiators to use their new heat pump effectively.

Underfloor heating is also an excellent way to disperse warmth with a heat pump, though this is usually only possible on the ground floor of your home.

Why do you likely need to make these changes? Well, heat pumps produce low-flow heat, which means they create the same amount of warmth, but at a lower temperature, across a longer timescale.

That's why they require bigger surface areas to warm up your home.

This also means your radiators may not be hot when you touch them, even when they're actively warming your home – which is an added bonus if you don't like being burned.

You should contact a few heat pump companies for free quotes though, as it's worth checking whether or not you need new radiators or underfloor heating.

What are the benefits of an air source heat pump?

Air source heat pumps are incredibly efficient, can cool and heat your home, and can create energy from air – a completely renewable resource.

There’s a reason why 22% of homes in Europe, North America, and northern Asia are set to have air source heat pumps by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.

Plus, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme means you can save £1,760 over the course of your heat pump’s lifetime, compared to gas boilers.

As well as this financial benefit, you’ll also remove 2.6 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from your yearly total by replacing your gas boiler with a heat pump, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

That’s a stunning reduction, cutting your annual carbon footprint by 44% in one fell swoop.

You’ll save at least four tonnes of CO2 per year if you currently have an oil boiler, and even if you use electric storage heaters, getting a heat pump will save you more than two tonnes.

And after having your new heat pump installed – with a large, government-funded discount – you can kick back and enjoy the benefits for the next 20 years.

Heat pumps as air conditioners

An air source heat pump can also reverse its entire purpose to provide cool air on hot summer days – and those days are only becoming more frequent.

Instead of taking air from the outside and releasing its warmth into your home, a dual option heat pump can switch it up and remove warm air from inside your house.

What's more, it can also cool a portion of this hot air and release cool gusts of air into your home, just like an air conditioner.

Can a gas boiler do that? Absolutely not.

Are air source heat pumps noisy?

An air source heat pump is prohibited by the government from exceeding 42 decibels at one metre from a window or door of your nearest neighbour’s home.

This relatively low level of noise is the equivalent of a refrigerator’s background hum, a quiet library, or a suburban area at night.

It may be possible to circumvent the 42dB limit by applying for special planning permission, but it shouldn’t be necessary, as heat pumps have long been built with this 2012 regulation in mind.

The verdict

Air source heat pumps are absolutely worth the investment, especially with the introduction of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme from April 2022.

The prospect of saving 2.6 tonnes of CO2 per year for the next two decades – for a total saving of 52 tonnes – would be attractive on its own, along with the nice £1,760 saving bonus.

It’s even more appealing when you consider this grant and the upcoming ban on gas boilers in new homes will likely be followed with further restrictions to ensure the UK reaches net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

A total ban on new gas boilers is coming in 2035, so you may as well take advantage of government schemes to ease your transition to a greener, cheaper heating system.

If you want to do just that, you can get the best possible deal by filling out this short form, and our best heat pump suppliers will send you free quotes for you to compare.

josh jackman
Josh Jackman Senior Writer

Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past three years. His work has featured on the front page of the Financial Times; he’s been interviewed by BBC One; and he was the resident expert in BT’s smart home tech initiative.

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