• /Blogs
  • /Do air source heat pumps work in UK winters?

Do air source heat pumps work in UK winters?



Heat pumps are a hot topic right now and that’s because they’re being hailed as the future of home heating and crucial to our fight against climate change. But if you’re considering investing in an air source heat pump and wondering whether it will work during a UK winter, it’s a fair question. It’s not a technology that a lot of people are familiar with and we all need to know that we can rely on our heating system to warm our homes and hot water in the colder, winter months. The good news is, air source heat pumps are a great choice for the British climate. In this blog we’ll explain why and also provide a few top tips on how to keep your heat pump in tip top condition over winter.

Do air source heat pumps work in UK winters?


First, it’s worth briefly explaining how an air source heat pump works. Air source heat pump technology uses a liquid refrigerant that absorbs heat from the air. The fluid is compressed, making it hotter and turning it into a gas. The heat from the gas is transferred into your home and released through your heating system – for hot water and into your radiators or underfloor heating system.  You can read more about how heat pumps work in our blog, How do heat pumps work? 


The refrigerant liquid used in most heat pumps ‘boils’ at around -50°C. Therefore any air temperature that is even as low as -20°C is still 30°C warmer than the refrigerant. Most air source heat pumps will therefore keep working at around -10°C, and some will keep working as low as -20°C. Of course it's very rare that temperatures drop to these extreme temperatures in the UK. The average temperature in the winter in the UK is above freezing –between 2 and 7°C. If you’re considering a ground source heat pump, they work the same way, but extract heat from the ground as opposed to the air. And the good news is, they can often work at even lower temperatures than air source models.


Tips for winter efficiency


Let’s look at three ways you can make sure your new heat pump works at its optimum efficiency throughout the winter months…


  1. Expert installation


The key to maximising winter efficiency lies in good planning and installation. A well-designed heat pump system, one that takes into consideration factors like available heat in the air and distribution within the home, is absolutely crucial. An experienced engineer, like our Plug Me In installers, will be able to assess these factors, recommend an appropriate heat pump model and design the optimal heating system for your home.


  1. Maintenance


Heat pumps are considered low maintenance, but much like a gas boiler, a heat pump needs servicing to keep it in tip-top shape and give you peace of mind that it’s working efficiently and effectively. An annual service from one of our qualified Plug Me In technicians involves cleaning and checks to ensure optimal performance throughout the year and to keep your heat pump running smoothly for its entire lifespan, which is over 20 years. 


  1. Home insulation


If your home isn’t well insulated, even the most efficient air source heat pump won’t help you save money on your energy bills. It’s vital to make sure that once heat is distributed around your home, it won’t escape too quickly. That requires investing in quality insulation, upgrading windows where necessary, and keeping draughts to an absolute minimum. 


Proof that heat pump technology is a no brainer in the UK, is Norway’s impressive commitment to embracing the technology. According to the International Energy Agency 60% of the country’s buildings are fitted with a heat pump – that’s one heat pump for every four people. Norway is closely following by Sweden at 43% and Finland at 41%. And all those countries have much colder winters than us. 


To date, the UK has fallen significantly behind the rest of Europe when it comes to heat pump installations, so it’s important to be clear that our winters are certainly not a deterrent or an obstacle. Hopefully, with the UK government’s £7,500 grants towards the purchase and installation of new heat pumps, the UK can get plugged in to a more sustainable future. 


If you’d like to know if your home is suitable for a heat pump and whether you’re eligible for the £7,500 grant, then talk to us today. We’ve got a national network of expert heat pump installers and we’d love to come and talk to you and assess your home and grant eligibility. Get in touch today!