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Air-sourced affordable warmth: An independent view of air-source heat pumps

Authors: NEA on behalf of NIBE, Mitsubishi and Daikin
Published: April 2012

The number of ‘off gas’ properties is much higher in rural areas than urban, with the problem increasing as settlements become more dispersed. Households without gas have to rely on more expensive fuels. Estimates from 2008 suggest that households off the gas network face typical energy bills of £1,700 per annum against £1,000 for those with mains gas. Air source heat pumps (ASHP) can effectively address rural fuel poverty. This is because, compared to off gas alternatives, heat pumps use fuel that is more stable in price; is more efficiently converted to heat i.e. more heat for less money; and allows customers to spread payments and engage in a competitive and regulated market. Although heat pumps are now fully available to the UK market, there is still limited take up, impacting upon the ability of this technology to reduce fuel poverty. Barriers to retrofitting air source heat pumps remain, as evidenced in the Barriers to Renewable Heat report to DECC, the EST field trial report and information gathered through NEA’s experience installing and monitoring heat pumps. Many of these are non-technical barriers i.e. they are about how the user is supported to use their system through simple controls and good instruction, whether the system is set-up for their particular needs, and whether housing and energy professionals are confident in choosing and deploying this technology. It is intended that this project will assist in overcoming some of these issues.