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Key Factors to Keep in Mind When Installing an Air Source Heat Pump

The goal of the UK government is to install 600,000 air source heat pumps annually by 2028 and provide subsidies to homeowners adopting green technologies, leading to the increasing popularity of this new low-carbon heating method.


Meanwhile, according to a recent study, only half (54%) of UK homeowners are familiar with heat pumps, and many are unaware of the options for adopting green technologies in their heating and hot water systems, as well as the regulations surrounding this relatively unknown equipment.


What is an air source heat pump, and can it replace gas boilers?

More and more homeowners are realizing the upcoming changes in home heating, specifically the phasing out of new gas boilers by 2035. However, many are uncertain about what this means for them and whether they need to start considering more environmentally friendly technologies for their homes.


Many people believe that they have to choose between a heat pump or a boiler, but by using a combined solution that includes both heat pumps and boilers, households can take advantage of the benefits of both technologies and fully utilize low-carbon electricity. Heat pumps can also be used alongside oil or liquefied petroleum gas boilers, making them suitable for homes without access to a natural gas network.


Currently, the most common type of heat pump in UK households is the air-to-water heat pump. This type of heat pump has an outdoor unit (about 1 meter wide x 1 meter high x 330 millimeters deep) that collects heat from outdoor air and heats it, providing heating for radiators or underfloor heating. Heat pumps can also supply hot water to the home’s cylinder for showers and taps.


Heat pumps are an energy-efficient and cost-saving solution for home heating and hot water, as they generate about 3 kilowatts of heat from 1 kilowatt of electricity on average (depending on the system size and outdoor temperature).


heat pump installation

Is installing a heat pump expensive?

The benefit of installing an air source heat pump is that it will save you significant costs in the long run on your monthly expenses, especially as natural gas costs rise and living costs impact most households in the UK.


As a relatively specialized new technology, the cost of heat pump equipment and associated labor is a substantial investment. However, as a low-carbon energy technology, the operational costs of heat pump equipment are much lower.


Currently, the UK government provides subsidies for air source heat pumps, with homeowners eligible for a £5,000 grant towards the cost of the heat pump and a zero-rated VAT for clean heating installations.

Looking for heat pump provider?

Shenling will be the best solution of how to use a heat pump in winter

Do I need planning permission to install an air source heat pump on my property?

Understanding the necessary planning regulations applicable to your property is crucial when planning to install a heat pump.


Air source heat pumps do fall within the scope of “permitted development,” which refers to property alterations that don’t require formal planning permission from the local council. Common developments that fall under permitted development include small single-story extensions or outdoor structures.


However, for a heat pump to qualify as permitted development, it must meet several requirements; otherwise, full planning permission is necessary. If you need planning permission, the council will consult your neighbors to confirm whether they agree to the installation of the heat pump on your property’s exterior. If complaints are raised by neighbors regarding the heat pump installation and proper planning hasn’t been obtained, the council has the authority to have it removed.


Permitted development conditions include:

Noise: Noise calculations must be done before installing the heat pump to ensure limited impact on neighbors. The calculations should include the sound power level of the heat pump, any reflective surfaces (such as walls or floors), the distance between the heat pump and the nearest habitable room of the neighbor, and whether there are any obstacles (like fences) between the heat pump and the neighbor.

Size: The heat pump must not exceed 0.6 cubic meters (although most standard-sized units are within this limit).
Location: The heat pump must be installed at least one meter away from your property boundary. If installed on a flat roof, it must be at least one meter away from the edge of the roof.

Your property: Permitted development doesn’t apply to listed properties or properties located within conservation areas.

First heat pump only: Permitted development applies only to the first heat pump on your property (or wind turbine).

Who installs air source heat pumps?

Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certifies contractors who meet the planning standards for low-carbon energy technology installations.


When installing a heat pump, selecting a contractor with MCS certification is crucial. They not only have unparalleled knowledge and training in the regulations and requirements of air source heat pumps but also have a legal responsibility to address any issues that may arise.


They have experience in designing and installing heat pumps, can provide advice on the best installation location for the heat pump, allowing you to operate within permitted development conditions if achievable.


Furthermore, homeowners must use installation personnel certified by MCS to apply for the government’s £5,000 grant. Thus, ensuring your installers have the correct certification is a straightforward matter.

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