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Air Source Heat Pumps: What are the Running Costs?

Nick Geary
By: Nick Geary
Updated: 9th March 2022

What are the running costs?
The running costs of an air source heat pump can vary greatly depending on different conditions around your house, whether you'll be using a high or low temperature heat pump and what you will be using to power it. In this article we'll cover the average running costs of air source heat pumps in properties of different sizes, and some ways you can reduce these running costs significantly.

Air source heat pump running costs

A big consideration when checking the running costs of air source heat pumps is what size of property will they be providing heating and hot water for? Bigger properties require larger heat pumps with higher outputs. This means they require more electricity to run and will have higher running costs. That's why we've provided running cost figures for several different property sizes.

Working out the running costs

To work out the average yearly running costs of an air source heat pump we have done the following:

  • Taken the average yearly heat requirement of the property in kilowatt hours (kWh)
  • Found the average SCOP (seasonal coefficient of performance) of the air source heat pump*
  • Divided the average yearly heat requirement by the heat pump's SCOP
  • Taken the resulting amount of kWh and multiplied it by 18.9p (the average cost per kWh of electricity according to ofgem)

For example: If a property requires 12,000 kWh of heat a year and is fitted with an air source heat pump with a SCOP of 3.5 we would do the following sum:

(12,000 ÷ 3.5) x £0.189 = £648 running cost for 1 year

* The SCOP of an air source heat pump states how many units of heat it provides for each unit of electricity used on average over a year. E.g. a heat pump with a SCOP of 4 would produce 4kWh of heat for every 1kWh of electricity used.

Running costs for a flat or apartment

The average yearly running costs for a 1 bedroom flat or apartment are £362.47

How we worked the running costs out:

Smaller properties such as flats and apartments will only require a small air source heat pump to provide adequate heat. They generally have the lowest heat requirement per year too. A 1 bed flat with a floorspace of around 50 square metres would require a 2.5kw air source heat pump. These generally have an average SCOP of around 3.65. The average heat requirement of a 1 bed flat is around 7,000kWh, so the equation becomes:

(7,000 ÷ 3.65) x £0.189 = £362.47

Running costs for a terraced house

The average yearly running costs for a 2 bedroom terraced house are £572.73

How we worked the running costs out:

The average annual heat requirement for a 2 bed terraced house is around 10,000kWh. A property of this size would require a 5kw air source heat pump with an average SCOP of around 3.3. The running cost equation becomes:

(10,000 ÷ 3.3) x £0.189 = £572.73

Running costs for a semi-detached house

The average yearly running costs for a 3 bed semi-detached house are £708.75

How we worked the running costs out:

An average 3 bed semi-detached house in the UK will have a floor area of around 100 square metres. Depending on how well insulated the property is and some other factors, a house of this size will require a 5 – 7kw heat pump to ensure it is kept at a comfortable temperature. 7kw air source heat pumps have an average SCOP of around 3.2, and the average heat requirement of a 3 bed semi detached house is around 12,000kWh. With this data we can complete the following equation:

(12,000 ÷ 3.2) x £0.189 = £708.75

Running costs for a detached house

The average yearly running costs for a 5 bed detached house are £1,126.73

How we worked the running costs out:

A large detached house with 5 bedrooms has an average floor space of 150 square metres. A property of this size would require a 12 – 15kw heat pump to ensure it was kept at a comfortable temperature. The average SCOP of a 15kw air source heat pump is around 2.6. While this is lower, it would still make you eligible for the boiler upgrade scheme. On average, a 5 bedroom detached house has an annual heat requirement of around 15,500kWh. With these figures, we can implement the following running cost equation:

(15,500 ÷ 2.6) x £0.189 = £1,126.73

How to reduce running costs

While the average figures we have provided are just guidelines for different property sizes, there are several ways you can lower the running costs of an air source heat pump to further lower your heating bills.

An energy efficient home

Making your home more energy efficient is an excellent way to lower running costs. An air source heat pump's seasonal coefficient of performance (SCOP) is directly affected by how energy efficient your home is. The more heat that is allowed to escape from your home, due to poor insulation or energy efficiency, the lower your heat pump's SCOP will become. A lower SCOP means higher heating bills, so making your property as energy efficient as possible is very important.

There are several ways to make your home more energy efficient and we've listed the most popular below:

  • Get loft insulation
  • Get double glazed windows fitted
  • Have cavity wall insulation installed

Each of these solutions will help your home to hold more heat, improving the efficiency of any air source heat pump you have installed.

Utilise solar power

As air source heat pumps are powered by electricity and do not need a lot of energy to run, it is possible to keep them running with the use of solar power. While traditional solar panels will only be capable of running a heat pump during the day, by using a solar battery you could keep an air source heat pump powered throughout the night too. The best case scenario when using solar energy to power a heat pump is that you require no electricity from your supplier to run your heating. This effectively means you could be heating your property for free.

Make the most of economy rates

Depending on your energy supplier and your electricity metre, you may be able to get an economy 7 electricity tariff. This tariff has 2 different electricity rates based on the time of day. There is a day rate and a night rate (with the night rate being approximately half the cost of the day rate). By running your air source heat pump between the hours of the night rate, and using it sparingly during the date rate hours, you could lower your heating costs significantly.

Nick Geary

About the author

Nick Geary

Nick has a wide range of experience writing about conventional and renewable heating solutions, and is always increasing his knowledge by researching any new heating technologies on the horizon.

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