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Heating your home

Air-to-air heat pumps

Air-to-air heat pumps transfer heat from the outside air to the air inside your home, increasing the air temperature in each room. This warm air enters your home through a series of fan coil units, or ‘blowers’.

Air-to-air heat pumps are sometimes referred to as air conditioning. While many people think of air conditioning as a way of cooling buildings, it can also be used for heating.

An air-to-air heat pump doesn’t heat water delivered to the taps. You’ll need to consider an alternative way of heating water for showering and bathing.

Find out more about how heat pumps work.

Is an air-to-air heat pump right for me? 

In the UK, air-to-air heat pumps aren’t typically used for heating larger homes. Air source heat pumps are most common in the UK. More often, air-to-air heat pumps are installed in smaller properties, such as flats and park homes.

Elsewhere in Europe, air-to-air systems are more common. This is partly because they can be used for cooling as well as heating, which is especially useful in warmer climates.

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether an air-to-air heat pump is right for you.

Will an air-to-air heat pump save me money?

Running costs depend on how your heat pump is designed and how it’s operated. Savings on your energy bill are also affected by the system you’re replacing.

There’s currently little independent data on how air-to-air systems perform in the UK, so it’s difficult to predict how much money you’d save by fitting one. However, we can give some general guidance on what to expect.

Saving money on fuel bills isn’t everyone’s primary motivation for installing a new heating system, but you need to be sure you can afford to run the system once installed. Ask your installer for an indication of running costs based on their design of the system for your home.

Installing and siting the blowers

The pipes running to the blowers are all connected to the outside unit. For this reason, blowers are often installed on the inside of an exterior wall near the outside unit to reduce the length of piping you need inside.

With multi-head systems, the installer normally aims to minimise the length of piping to each blower location. So, before the installer starts work, ask anyone surveying your house about the possible pipe routes.

Installing ducted systems

Ducted systems are typically used in energy efficient houses such as ‘Passivhauses’. Some types of ducted systems are referred to as exhaust air heat pumps (EAHPs), though EAHPs can also supply hot water.

Air can’t carry large amounts of heat in the same way that a wet central heating system can, so ducted systems may not be suitable for older or larger houses with a high heating requirement.

The ducts used by installers are designed to allow large volumes of air to move around the house through pipes that are slim enough to be hidden inside the ceiling voids. All that’s visible inside each room is two grills mounted in the ceiling: one for flow in and one for flow out of the room.

The air is warmed in an air handling unit, which is roughly the size of a boiler and is normally installed in a loft or utility room.

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Last updated: 15 April 2024