Heat pump installation figures have increased noticeably since the onset of various government incentive schemes and are set to rise further in 2013. Daikin UK says current installations are proving the savings that heat pumps can achieve - and with new funding being introduced, predict the market will grow further in 2013.

Government schemes, such as the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) and Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT), have already been successful in encouraging wider uptake of air-to-water heat pump technology.

These are likely to pave the way for even more widespread heat pump installations, with further incentive schemes such as the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) being introduced in 2013.

A total of 2,492 vouchers have been claimed (to November 2012) for air-to-water source heat pump installations in Phases 1 and 2 of the RHPP. The scheme provides a one-off payment for householders who purchase certain renewable energy measures, but entitlement to vouchers for air-to-water heat pumps is currently confined to those who do not, or have not recently had, gas heating.

The CERT, government’s main domestic energy efficiency scheme implemented by the main energy supplier companies until the end of 2012, has achieved 6,617 heat pump installations to the end of September 2012.

Air-to-water heat pumps absorb heat from the air and convert it, via a condenser, to power central heating and hot water systems. They provide a greener source of energy, lowering the household’s carbon emissions when compared to other types of fossil fuel based heating measures.

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) statistical publication, published in December 2012, air source heat pump measures accounted for 44% of total megawatt heat capacity within the RHPP scheme.

From this, DECC said: “It is clear that the average capacity of installed air source heat pumps is greater than that of the other technologies.”

Energy Saving Trust (EST) figures suggest that air source heat pumps can make annual savings of approximately £600 when replacing electric heating systems, or approximately £300 when replacing oil. Carbon savings can be as much as 5,270 Kg when replacing electric heating.

However, Daikin’s simulations show that for its high temperature systems, the savings achieved by Daikin Altherma high temperature heat pumps can be as high as £630 a year compared with an A-rated gas boiler. Further savings may be applicable following the launch of the domestic RHI, due in Summer 2013.

For future installations, the Green Deal will provide upfront funding for air-to-water heat pumps up to the level of the estimated savings for any particular house, with householders repaying the loan out of the savings via their energy bills. On 14 January, DECC announced a £125M cashback funding scheme incentivising householders to apply for energy efficiency measures under the Green Deal, with packages which could be worth over £1000 cashback to qualifying householders.

Those on low incomes and vulnerable households may have air source heat pumps installed for them under a scheme running parallel to Green Deal: the ECO, or Affordable Warmth scheme.

For example, Amicus Horizon Housing Association gave residents at Stockers Brow in Kent the opportunity to improve their insulation and upgrade their heating systems in April 2011. Having decided to trial air-to-water heat pumps they opted for the Daikin Altherma air-to-water heat pump range. As a result, forward thinking householders are now enjoying lower heating bills, down from around £75 to less than £22 a month – initial findings to date show a saving of more than 70% pending current climate and fuel charges/rates.

Peter Verkempynck, managing director of Daikin UK, said: “Air-to-water heat pumps have an increasingly important role to play in the provision of energy from renewable sources. Renewable heating options not only provide security for the UK energy supply but are a greener source of energy with a lower carbon footprint.”

Air-to-water heat pumps are fast becoming an excellent alternative to traditional heating and hot water systems in both new build and refurbishment applications. There is likely to be increasing demand, particularly due to the proposed RHI incentives and the Green Deal and ECO (Affordable Warmth) targets, which encourage their take-up. This will assist the UK to move towards an energy infrastructure including 15% energy production from renewable energy sources by 2020.