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Does cold weather effect heat pumps?

Does cold weather affect heat pumps

Heating and Plumbing engineer love to help our customers in whatever way we can. Sometimes they have queries about heat pumps, particularly about their efficiency, now the weather is getting colder. The most well-known- and so common- type of heat pumps are: air source renewable heat pumps. They have many benefits- they’re relatively cheap to install, can provide instant savings on heating bills, and they can offer both heating and cooling in just one system. However, their main drawback is that cold weather does indeed affect their efficiency. And not in a good way!

So, to find out more about these renewable air source heat pumps- to see how they work and to understand why, and how cold weather affects them, please continue reading.

Air source heat pumps

What are they?

Air source heat pumps are used in order to deliver heat and hot water to properties. They are very efficient- sometimes 300% or more. Compared to modern boilers (which typically have 90% efficiency ratings), this seems particularly impressive!  So, it isn’t hard to see why they’d be an appealing investment.

The types & how they work

Two types of air source heat pumps exist, air-to- air, and air-to-water.


Air-to-air heat pumps remove heat from air outside the property. This is then fed into the home via fans. This is the less common type and they can’t be used to produce hot water.


Air-to-water heat pumps are greatly more popular. They take heat from outside the property and transfer it to water. This can then be used for heating or as water.

Since air source heat pumps include compressors and fans, they need electricity to run. Don’t worry though, due to their efficiency they aren’t as costly as you would probably expect. However, do note that it’s really important to minimise heat loss from your home, before installing a heat pump, to increase its efficiency. So, we encourage you insulate your home- adding insulation to your loft, walls and floor will certainly make a big difference. This allows for your home to be heated effectively, without putting too much strain on the pump. Putting strain on pumps- or any part of your central heating system- leads to higher bills.

Renewable Heat Incentive

The renewable heat incentive was launched to encourage house-owners to use, and generate renewable energy- heat pumps are a part of this. So, you end up getting the initial costs of the instalment pretty much covered! A standard property can be expected to get around £7000-10,000. However, you’ll have to find the money to start with, as you’ll receive the payments over 7 years.  To find out more about the renewable heat incentive, please click here.

Cold Temperatures 

Air source heat pumps can operate at cold temperatures- they can run at -250C! However, the efficiency certainly decreases, as outside temperatures drop. So, if you are living in a particularly cold place, you may also need an additional heating provider. To get the hot water temperature that you’ll likely desire, you may need an additional boiler, for example.

Do you want more information on renewable air source heat pumps?

Renewable air source heat pumps certainly have their benefits, but like with anything they have some drawbacks too- their biggest weakness is their decreased efficiency in colder weathers. If you would like more information on renewable air source heat pumps, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will always be happy to discuss any concerns and queries, and we love providing our advice and recommendations to our customers!