Air source heat pumps can provide an eco-friendly way to heat and cool a home and can be an alternative to traditional heating systems that directly burn fuels to produce heat.
However, air source heat pumps only amount to a small percentage of global heating and cooling systems, partly due to their typically higher installation prices, and so is there any chance they’ll get cheaper in the future?
Air source heat pumps will likely get cheaper as their technology advances and there is more competition in the marketplace from manufacturers. However, due to their current typically high purchase and installation costs, grants have been offered to help make air source heat pumps more affordable.
Our own air source heat pump was installed when the house was built and so the purchase and installation costs of this heating system were reflected in the price of the house.
It would have been a relatively expensive install compared to more conventional heating systems but the lack of gas supply in the area meant that a more environmentally friendly system could be invested into.
This article discusses in more detail why air source heat pumps can be expensive and whether you can expect the implementation of heat pumps to become more affordable.
Why Are Air Source Heat Pumps Expensive?
Air source heat pump systems can be expensive due to their high energy efficiency, low market competition, and the complex parts required to fabricate them.
To determine whether air source heart pumps will be cheaper in the future, we need to understand where they stand in the present, and what is it that makes them more expensive than traditional systems.
The U.S. Department of Energy stipulates that air source heat pumps must have a minimum SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency) rating of at least 14.
An air source heat pump’s SEER rating refers to its heating or cooling output ratio during a typical winter or summer. This figure is divided by the energy it consumes, giving us its SEER rating.
The maximum SEER rating that an appliance can have is 21. Air source heat pumps typically have a rating of 18 and above.
The higher the SEER rating of a heating or cooling appliance, the more expensive it’s likely to be. This is due to the intricate parts involved in making an energy-efficient appliance.
Although appliances with high SEER ratings are expensive, they can also use less energy, which means you could save money in the long run when investing a bit more upfront.
Our air source heat pump (ASHP) uses the Coefficient of Performance (COP) rating, which is similar to EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio).
It has a relatively high COP, meaning that it’s very energy efficient and produces as much heat energy as possible from the energy it consumes.
The COP can vary depending on weather conditions but can have a COP of over 4 in the most ideal.
Air source heat pumps with higher COP/EER/SEER ratings can demand a higher purchase cost and can be more expensive in general compared to other heating systems due to being more efficient and the research and design behind it.
Lack Of Market Competition
Currently, air source heat pumps form only a small percentage of global heating and cooling solutions. There’s still a relatively low demand.
Brands like Mitsubishi, Carrier, Danfoss, and Panasonic manufacture air source heat pumps. However, because of the low demand, fewer other companies have ventured into the market.
The low competition in the air source heat pump market helps keep prices high for ASHP appliances.
An air source heat pump is composed of highly efficient and complex parts that provide one to three times more cooling or heat than the energy it consumes. Despite this, air source heat pumps can be low maintenance.
Unfortunately, these parts can be expensive to design and manufacture and so they’re a key factor in the high prices for air source heat pumps.
See our guide on all the main parts of an air source heat pump system for more information.
What Are Air Source Heat Pumps?
Air source heat pumps are energy-efficient and eco-friendly heating and cooling appliances. They absorb atmospheric heat into cold refrigerant liquid and compress it to increase output temperature. After passing through the compressor, the hot gas is transferred into your home’s heating system.
For more information we have an article where we explain air source heat pumps using our own ASHP as an example.
Will Air Source Heat Pumps Get Cheaper?
Air source heat pumps are likely to get cheaper in the future. Renewable energy sources will help reduce their upkeep costs, the demand for eco-friendly heating and cooling is increasing, and homes are becoming better insulated, making their heating and cooling more efficient.
Renewable Energy Cost Savings
Renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, has an insignificant carbon footprint when compared with traditional, highly polluting fossil fuel-based energy.
There is a growing international demand for renewable energy. As homeowners gradually replace traditional energy sources with greener options, running an air source heat pump can become cheaper.
If you live in an area with a sunny climate, for example, and have solar panels on your house, you can run your air source heat pump off solar power. Because solar energy is free and air source heat pumps run solely on electricity, your only running costs would be the maintenance of your air source heat pump and solar panels.
Even if air source heat pumps themselves do not become much cheaper in the short term, using them alongside a renewable power source can help save money in the long term.
Growing Demand for Eco-Friendly Heating and Cooling
International climate change summits, such as the COP UN Climate Change Conference, have highlighted the need for more eco-friendly heating and cooling options.
Many countries have agreed to reduce their carbon emissions by 45% from their 2010 levels by 2030. The goal is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Using environmentally friendly heating and cooling appliances is one of many measures needed to achieve this.
This commitment has encouraged governments to award grants to homeowners who replace fossil fuel-powered heating and cooling with more environmentally-friendly ones.
The United Kingdom, for instance, had the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme. The program paid air source heat pump owners for the heat energy the system provides.
Some renewable energy experts predict that the more countries encourage homeowners to install eco-friendly heating and cooling appliances, the more the demand will increase.
As a result, air source heat pump suppliers may begin manufacturing in larger quantities. As the economies of scale hit off, prices of air source heat pumps are likely to decrease.
Air source heat pumps have lower energy outputs than traditional furnaces or air conditioning units. This means that they cannot produce heat or cool as quickly, making them less suited to poorly insulated homes.
Luckily, with the growing need for more eco-friendly homes, new build houses are typically well-insulated.
Some owners of older, less well-insulated homes are now taking measures to improve insulation. Some popular methods include making windows and doors draught-proof and installing insulating material in the roof or walls.
In the coming years, most homes will likely be better insulated, and may increase the demand for air source heat pumps and potentially decrease their purchase costs.
Will Air Source Heat Pumps Get Cheaper?
Using an air source heat pump is an eco-friendly way of heating or cooling your home.
Right now, air source heat pumps can be more expensive to install compared to traditional heating and cooling systems, but ASHPs should be considered as a long term investment rather than short term to make their implementation worthwhile.
Looking into the future, air source heat pumps may become cheaper thanks to the growing need for environmentally-friendly heating and cooling methods. As demand grows, manufacturers can produce larger quantities, which may decrease prices.
People are using more renewable energy and insulating their homes more effectively, which can also help to reduce the cost of running air source heat pumps in the long run and reduce the whole life costs of an ASHP.
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