If you’re looking for a replacement for your heating system, or you’re building your home from scratch and need a new heating system, an air source heat pump can be considered as an alternative to the traditional gas boiler.
An air source heat pump can be cheaper than gas, but the initial purchase and installation costs must be recuperated over time. As gas becomes increasingly more expensive, an electric air source heat pump can become a much more viable option for heating a home.
Our air source heat pump was installed when the house was built and so we can’t directly compare our electricity bills to gas.
Both air source heat pumps and traditional gas heating systems have their pros and cons but whether one is cheaper than the other can depend on a range of situational, environmental, and local factors.
We discuss more about whether air source heat pumps can be cheaper than gas in more detail below.
An air source heat pump can be a more environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional gas boiler because air is a renewable resource. It works by extracting heat energy stored in the outside air and using it to heat a home.
For air source heat pumps, outside air is absorbed into liquid refrigerant, which heats up into a gas. This gas is further compressed to generate more heat from higher pressures, and this heat energy can be distributed into a home through a number of ways such as central heating.
See our article on how an air source heat pump works for more information.
Regular gas boilers run on fossil fuels, which are becoming increasingly expensive and can be damaging to the environment.
See our article comparing air source heat pumps and gas boilers for more information.
Instead of using fossil fuels, an air source heat pump runs off electricity, which can be an eco-friendlier option. They can also be hooked up to solar panels if you want to convert your heating system into a carbon-neutral system.
We have an article that explains air source heat pumps in more detail for more information.
One of the biggest reasons people hesitate when considering an air source heat pump is the cost.
They can be significantly more expensive than a traditional gas boiler for both purchase and installation.
Traditional boilers can cost around $4,000 to buy and install. Air source heat pumps can cost around $5,000 and $6,500 to buy, but not install. However, due to how efficient they are, air source heat pumps can cost less in the long run for operating expenses in terms of heat generated from energy put in.
For many families, buying a traditional boiler can already a significant purchase. Installing an air source heat pump can be more a more costly up-front install, especially if apparatus also needs to be upgraded inside a home such as larger radiators and a new hot water tank.
See our article on how much an air source heat pump costs for information.
The average home is built with a gas boiler in mind, not an air source heat pump, and so an air source heat pump can typically cost you a little more. Installers may have to do some extra reconfiguring that can jack up the installation cost.
A traditional boiler will likely have a lower installation cost because there can be very few alterations that need to be made to work with your home’s design.
A downside to air source heat pumps is therefore that initial purchase and installation costs can be higher than gas, and is an extra cost if replacing a gas heating system with a heat pump system.
However, these initial costs can be recuperated through use of a heat pump over the lifetime of the system.
Although air source heat pump systems can cost more to install than gas, especially when replacing a gas system, the cost of the energy needed to power the machine and the maintenance costs can be lower than those of a traditional gas heater.
Air source heat pumps can last up to 20 years and can require very little maintenance, only needing to be cleaned a few times a year and checked up on once per year. The cost to run them can also be lower, especially if you invest in a clean energy source such as solar panels.
In many cases, if you choose to invest in an additional clean energy source for your home, such as solar energy, an air source heat pump can help virtually eliminate your home heating costs and make your home heating very carbon neutral.
It’s always important to speak to an installer to understand costs for your particular situation because energy costs, purchase costs and installation costs can vary significantly between locations and installations.
Every heating option, including the air source heat pump, has advantages and disadvantages.
In this section of the article, we’ll summarize the advantages and disadvantages of this heating system so you can decide whether it’s right for you.
The main advantages of installing an air source heat pump instead of a traditional gas heater are higher efficiency performances, potential lower long-term heating costs, and being more environmentally friendly.
Air source heat pumps only require electricity as a source of power and don’t use any fossil fuels like gas to generate heat. Heat is generated by extracting heat energy stored within outside air, which is a renewable energy source.
Air source heat pumps, especially modern ones, can have very good coefficient of performance (COP) ratings which identify how many units of heat can be generated from one unit of electrical energy.
Our air source heat pump has a COP of greater than three, meaning that it’s very efficient at generating heat for our home compared to the amount of electricity it uses.
See our article on air source heat pump efficiency for more information.
The main disadvantage of the air source heat pump is that it has a high upfront cost. This can make it a difficult product for many families to invest in.
You may need to pay more than the price of a traditional gas boiler heater system just to buy an air source heat pump. After you purchase it, you may need to have your heating system rearranged to make it compatible, which can also raise the installation cost.
However, as heat pump technology progresses the cost of air source heat pump units will come down.
It’s also important to understand that heat pumps generate heat over a longer period of time compared to traditional gas heating systems. To compliment this, larger surface area apparatus such as underfloor heating and modern double or triple radiators should be used.
A heating system that utilizes an air source heat pump may therefore need to be left on longer to get the same heating effect as a gas system, but this doesn’t mean increased costs.
A hot water tank with immersion heater may also be required, like the one we have to store domestic hot water for use as an air source heat pump can’t provide very hot water on demand on its own. See our articles on using a hot water tank with an air source heat pump and using an air source heat pump to provide hot water for more information.
A more modern and better insulated house will also help to keep the heat in for longer with than air source heat pump that releases heat more slowly than gas.
Another downside can be the cost of running an air source heat pump where electricity costs are relatively high compared to gas.
We spend just over £200 ($260) a month on electricity (no gas bill). Much of this will electricity usage will be from our heat pump.
Even though we may pay the same with a gas heating system, there’s no gas supply in our area. In our situation all the other benefits of using an air source heat pump therefore outweigh the use of an oil or gas heating system, even if using an air source heat pump may not currently be cheaper than gas.
See our list of all of the pros and cons of air source heat pumps for more information.
An air source heat pump is an excellent alternative to the traditional gas boiler option. However, it’s not always cheaper in the short term to use an air source heat pump over a traditional gas heating system.
Air source heat pump systems may not be cheaper to install, and electricity costs may currently be higher than gas depending on where you live.
However, installing an air source heat pump is a long-term investment that will only become more favorable as gas energy costs increase and gas usage becomes phased out.
It’s therefore always important to have an installer give you a price so that you can understand the whole-life costs of an air source heat pump compared to gas.
If you’re looking at the initial cost of purchase and setup, you can be looking at a situation where an air source heat pump won’t be cheaper than gas.
If you’re looking at the cost over the product’s lifetime, you can end up saving money by investing in an air source heat pump.