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Why is an air source heat pump the perfect heating solution for new build projects?

Whether you’ve undertaken a self-build previously or you’re currently planning a project, you’ll understand the importance of choosing the right heating system for the build.

With numerous things to consider, air source heat pumps are ticking more and more boxes for self-builders. With SAP ratings, financial implications, quality and installation procedure all important considerations when choosing which heating system to opt for in a project, air source heating is becoming ever more relevant in new builds for a number of reasons.

Changes to modern Building Regulations

Changes to Building Regulations over the last decade have made newly built properties more thermally efficient than ever before. With heat losses and heat demand both significantly lower than in the past, hot water provision has overtaken space heating as the primary heat load in most new builds. Air source heat pumps utilise integrated technology to smartly manage heat demand and provision between space heating and hot water to ensure that a property’s heat demand is continuously met in the most efficient manner. Doing so ensures appropriate provision at all times.

Quality of heat

Installing an air source heating alternative in a new build also improves the quality of heat emitted within the property. Whereas traditional heating systems and fuels such as gas and oil provide heating in ‘blasts’ either when required or as per programming, heat pumps provide high-grade heat at lower temperatures over a longer period of time. The result is a more ambient type of heat provision that is boosted further by the increased heat retention in new dwellings. When space heating is required, an air source heat pump operates continuously throughout the day to ensure the property is always at the customer’s desired temperature. This guarantees a friendlier living environment and guarantees a home is warm when required and reduces running costs.

Saving on energy bills

Typically, a heat pump is somewhere between 30 and 50 percent more cost-effective to run than their traditional heating alternatives. An air source heat pump works by taking in air from outside a property and upgrading it into high-grade heat by mixing it with a special fluid and compressing it. As a result of this process, the pump is capable of outputting more than three time as much heat energy as the electricity they take to run, leading to noticeably reduced heating costs and a more attractive selling or rental proposition. Furthermore, the savings that can be made by installing an air source heating system will only increase when the price of fossil fuels inevitably rise in the future. Switching to a renewable heating alternative now provides an element of future-proofing to a project.

The Renewable Heat Incentive

As well as the energy savings a heat pump provides to customers, there is also a government-backed, financial incentive scheme, now easier than ever for self-build customers to enter thanks to the abandonment of the ‘183-day occupancy rule’.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme was initiated to provide financial incentive to customers installing a renewable heating alternative as a way to bridge the gap in cost between renewable and non-renewable alternatives. The scheme pays domestic customers over a seven year period for every kilowatt of heat generated by their system, provided the installed system meets set criteria. Previously, self-build customer looking to enter the Domestic RHI scheme would have to install additional metring or occupy the property for 183-days before being eligible. The ruling changes means applications on such projects can now be made after building control sign-off and applicants begin recouping their investment six months sooner.

This combination of energy savings and RHI payments means that an air source heat pump installation will regularly repay itself within the first seven years.

Building Regulations contribution

Installing an air source heat pump heating system over an oil or gas alternative, for say, will also score favourably when it comes to SAP ratings and Building Control sign-off. Most self-builders are aware that including a solar installation on a property will help pass building regulations, but not many people realise that including a renewable heating technology exceeds the Standard Assessment Procedure significantly. Considering a heat pump over a traditional alternative lessens the financial demands of other aspects of SAP regulations, such as windows and insulation, and opens up all the other advantages listed here.

Easy to install, run and maintain

Due to the nature of work undertaken on a building site, air source heating can be installed in a multi-fit fashion that ensures no disruption to the overall project and no delays. As a wet central heating system is all-but-always installed anyway, the heat pump installation can be completely integrated to maximise the efficiency of both and reduce installation time and the number of suppliers needed.

Also, integrated smart technology and various operational modes make modern heat pumps easy to run. Systems are installed and set up to match the heating requirements of the customer with minimal interaction required from the user. In addition, heat pumps are easy to maintain. Annual servicing is necessary to validate any product warranties and most other issues resolved either through the manufacturer or installing company.