How Much An Air Source Heat Pump Costs (To Buy, Install and Run)

Air source heat pumps can be a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly way to heat and cool a home but work differently compared to traditional heating systems and so the cost of installation can vary depending on several factors.

Running costs for air source heat pumps can also vary because heat pumps only require electricity as the source of power, and electrical energy costs can vary depending on location.

Air source heat pumps can cost between $4,500 and $8,000 (£3,500 and £6,500) to install and cost approximately $1,370 (£1,090) per year to run. However, these costs can vary widely based on factors such as the brand heat pump, size of heating zone, insulation levels and demand for heating.

Our air source heat pump was installed when our house was built, and we’ve been using this heat pump for over 5 years now for our heating and domestic hot water needs.

Air Source Heat Pump
An air source heat pump can be a less expensive heating system if you look at the whole-life costs

We discuss in more detail below using our own heat pump as an example:

  • How much an air source heat pump costs
  • How much an air source heat pump costs to install
  • How much an air source heat pump costs to run

How Much Does An Air Source Heat Pump Cost?

According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of a new air source heat pump can be anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 per unit, and factors such as the maximum output, efficiency rating and brand can affect the price of an air source heat pump unit. 

The cost of an air source heat pump (ASHP) can depend on a variety of factors, including the brand of heat pump you buy, the size of your home and the footage of the area required to be heated/cooled (and therefore the power output required from the heat pump), the efficiency rating of the heat pump (high efficiencies can demand higher price tags) and any other requirements such as using the ASHP to also provide domestic hot water.

Although our air source heat pump was installed before we moved into our new-build house, we expect the cost of the external heat pump unit to have been around $5,000 (£4,000).

This would have been for the external heat pump only (the unit that sits outside the house) and not any of the internal apparatus. We discuss how the internal heating apparatus can affect costs in the next section of this article.

Air Source Heat Pump
The main purchase cost for an air source heat pump system can be the external heat pump unit itself

Factors that can affect the price of an external air source heat pump unit can include:

Size of property and indoor area. If you only want to heat and cool a few rooms, the size of heat pump required, and therefore cost of the unit, can be lower. However, if you want to control the temperature of your entire home, you’ll need a bigger unit, which will typically drive up the cost of the unit.

Our ASHP is a relatively large unit that’s been designed to provide both heating and hot water for our 5-bedroom home.

It’s a dual fan unit with a maximum power output of 11.2kW (3.2 ton heating capacity), which is the right size for its purpose.

Air Source Heat Pump
This air source heat pump was chosen as it had the right heating output to serve our size of house

HomeAdvisor shows that higher capacity heat pumps can have a higher total cost

The right sized ASHP should always be installed. Installing a smaller sized and lower cost heat pump can lead to problems as the unit would have to be working overtime to meet demand, which in turn can increase running costs, maintenance costs and reduce its life expectancy.

An air source heat pump should be considered as a long term investment to make them worthwhile financially.

Build quality of heat pump. Some manufacturers and systems have lower reputations, so the cost of the units themselves can be lower. Manufacturers with greater reputation can demand a higher price for them.

Our heat pump is a Mitsubishi, which are a reputable brand in the heating and cooling industry.

Air Source Heat Pump
Our air source heat pump is manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric, which can be considered as one of the major players in the industry and may demand a higher purchase cost

According to HomeAdvisor, Mitsubishi heat pumps can be more expensive compared to other brands.

We’ve never had a problem with our Mitsubishi heat pump in over 5 years of using it, which can be a sign of higher build quality, which itself would have been reflected in the potentially higher unit cost.

Efficiency ratings. Higher efficiency air source heat pumps, which are able to generate more heating with less electrical input, can demand a higher price tag.

You can look at several ratings, including the Coefficient of Performance (COP), Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (SSPF) and the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) to determine the efficiency of a heat pump.

Higher efficiency numbers can mean more heat from the same amount of electricity consumed. A COP of 3 or more is usually good. However, factors such as outdoor air temperature can significantly affect the efficiency of a heat pump and so efficiency ratings are often given in ranges.

The COP range for our heat pump is shown below for reference.

Air Source Heat Pump Plate
Very efficient air source heat pumps like ours (with the high COP shown) can be more expensive

Home insulation levels. An older, less well insulated home can require a greater capacity heat pump.

Air source heat pumps work more slowly compared to other more traditional heating systems and so good levels of insulation are required in a home to keep the heat in long enough for a home to warm up. If a home needs insulation to be upgraded, then this can also increase overall installation costs.

Requirement for domestic hot water. If you need an air source heat pump to provide hot water to taps etc. as well as for heating then this requirement can lead to needing a heat pump with a greater capacity, which again can increase unit costs.

How Much Does An Air Source Heat Pump Cost To Install?

According to HomeAdvisor, the total installation cost of an air source heat pump can be from $4,500 to $8,000, but factors that can vary the price can include difficulty of installation and any internal upgrades and other associated indoor heating apparatus that may be required.

While the cost of buying an external air source heat pump unit can be high, the overall cost of installation of an ASHP system can also vary (and be high) depending on the complexity of the work and any additional internal heating apparatus or home upgrades that would be required in order for an air source heat pump to work as effectively as possible.

For example, our entire heating system was installed brand new alongside our heat pump and so the total installation cost would have been high. However, as this was a new build, this cost would have been reflected in the price we paid for the house.

Air Source Heat Pump Hot Water Tank
To make the most out of our heat pump, all of this heating and hot water apparatus inside our home is designed to work effectively alongside it

If an existing gas boiler heating system is being replaced with an air source heat pump, and the existing indoor heating apparatus is sufficient for use with that heat pump, then installation costs can be lower.

For an older more outdated existing heating system, a total overhaul may be required to work with an air source heat pump, which can significantly increase installation costs.

Gas Boiler
Depending on the age and suitability of any existing heating system, installation costs for retrofitting an air source heat pump can vary significantly

Factors that can affect the cost of an air source heat pump installation can include:

  • Type of heat pump.
  • Difficulty of installation.
  • Requirement for any ducts.
  • The need for multiple refrigerant lines as part of a ductless mini-split system.
  • What existing heating apparatus is present and whether any of it needs to be upgraded or replaced entirely.
  • What the installation company charges per hour, or the fixed charge.
  • Whether the heat pump will be used for any other purposes, such as to provide hot water.

There are two main types of air source heat pump and the system chosen can affect the price of installation, and these include:

  • Air to air heat pumps
  • Air to water heat pumps

Air to air heat pumps work with apparatus inside a home that distribute warm air around a home, such as air handlers.

Air to air heat pumps can be part of a ducted or ductless system and are often chosen over air to water systems in hotter climates as they can more easily be used to cool as well as heat.

More internal heating apparatus required, such as numerous air handlers, can increase installation costs

Ducted systems can more expensive, especially if you don’t have the ductwork in your home already installed. A single ductless air source heat pump can be cheaper but may not be enough to control the temperature of your entire home.

See our article comparing ductless and ducted heat pump systems for more information.

Air to water heat pumps (like the one we have) work with a water-based system to heat a home using equipment such as radiators and underfloor heating.

Unlike air to air types, air to water heat pumps can also be used to provide domestic hot water.

Our air to water heat pump provides us with both heating and hot water, and so we have a hot water tank inside our home that would have been an additional cost at installation.

Air Source Heat Pump Water Heater Tank
As our air source heat pump is also used to provide hot water as well as heating, apparatus such as this hot water tank will have increased the costs

The type of heat pump chosen and the internal apparatus can therefore affect the cost of installing an air source heat pump system. If any existing heating apparatus needs to be upgraded, such as the size and number of ducts or radiators, then this can increase installation costs.

See our article comparing air to air and air to water heat pumps for more information.

The difficulty of installation can also play a role in overall installation costs.

Installers have to pick locations to house the internal and external units, and they have to find a way to connect these units throughout your house. The installation process is easier if there’s an easy-access space to run the lines, such as an attic. Installing a system on a second or third floor can be more costly.

How Much Does An Air Source Heat Pump Cost To Run?

According to EDF Energy, the cost to run an air source heat pump could be $1,370 (£1,089) per year, but this can depend on the type of heat pump, it’s efficiency, the household demand and local electricity energy costs.

Air source heat pumps only use electricity to operate and so while the installation cost might be high for some households, they could potentially save overall in the long term with lower energy costs.

However, the running costs of an air source heat pump may not necessarily be low than other forms of heating such as gas depending on factors such as local energy prices.

For example, our electricity bill comes to around $250 (£200) per month and within in this is the cost to run our heat pump system. This running cost may be similar to using a gas heating system but there are a number of positives that an ASHP can bring rather than simply financial savings.

The factors that can influence the cost of running an air source heat pump can include:

  • The type of heat pump.
  • The efficiency of the heat pump.
  • The build quality.
  • Availability of spare parts and their cost.
  • Whether a heat pump is being supplied by electricity from a renewable energy source, such as solar panels.
  • Home insulation levels.
  • Outside air temperatures.
  • Service intervals and associated cost.

Different brands have different levels of efficiency, so if you get a low-quality heat pump, you’ll most likely get low-quality results on the cost of running the unit. Additionally, if your units are old or need maintenance, their efficiency will likely deteriorate over time.

Our Mitsubishi heat pump hasn’t had any problems in the time we’ve been using it and so there haven’t been any large maintenance costs, but we have had to pay for yearly services.

Air Source Heat Pump
We haven’t need to fix anything with our ASHP in the 5 years we’ve been using it but there have been annual service costs

If you live in an extremely cold climate, your air source heat pump will have to work harder to meet the same desired indoor temperatures, therefore driving up the cost of running the unit.

If your property isn’t well-insulated, it will take more work for an ASHP to maintain a certain temperature in the home, which can also increase costs.

Furthermore, pairing an air source heat pump with a renewable energy source such as solar panels can help greatly reduce running costs, albeit with an upfront cost in having them installed. See our article on using an air source heat pump with solar panels for more information.

How Much An Air Source Heat Pump Costs

While the initial installation cost can be high, air source heat pumps are still an energy-efficient and more environmentally-friendly way to heat and cool your home compared to more traditional heating systems.

Ongoing running costs may not currently be significantly cheaper than gas, but air source heat pumps are a long-term investment and the price of fossil fuels may continue to rise and potentially even be phased out in the near future. Costs can vary significantly between each installation and so the only way to be sure of costs is to get quotes from installers for your specific situation and needs. Getting multiple quotes will allow you to get the best idea of purchase, installation and running costs for an air source heat pump system in your home.

Further Reading

Will Air Source Heat Pumps Get Cheaper?

Are Air Source Heat Pumps The Future?

Air Source Heat Pump Installation Requirements

What An Air Source Heat Pump System Looks Like