Navigating Building Regulations For Air Source Heat Pumps

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By Debarghya Roy

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Air source heat pumps are an efficient and popular green HVAC technology that can be used to both heat and cool a property. 

In this blog post, you’ll learn about how these regulations apply to residential properties as well as commercial buildings and the steps required for buildings with air source heat pump installation to comply with them.

Key Takeaways

  • Air source heat pump installation must comply with Building Regulations in order to be legally installed
  • MEES regulations apply to air source heat pumps through prescribed Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, noise levels and sound insulation requirements
  • Proper insulation is necessary for the efficient and reliable operation of an air source system while reducing energy consumption.
  • Accreditation is essential prior to installation of an air source heat pump for compliance certification & registration.

Overview Of Air Source Heat Pumps 

The system works by using renewable energy from the surrounding air, converting it into usable electricity through a complex process.

air source heat pump building regulations

Air source heat pumps can be used either as stand-alone units for cooling and/or heating or combined with an existing conventional system. 

They are suited for both new builds and existing properties alike; offering greater flexibility than some other forms of heating solutions while maintaining high levels of efficiency.

As well as residential homes, they can also provide much needed comfort cooling to commercial buildings such as offices or shops. 

Reports show that air source heat pump efficiencies can reach between 300%-600%, compared to boiler efficiencies at 78-88% – representing huge potential savings on running costs over time.

Part L Of Building Regulations Of Air Source Heat Pumps

Part L of Building Regulations is the set of rules and guidelines that outlines mandatory requirements for energy efficiency in new properties. 

These regulations apply to air source heat pumps as well, since they offer cost-efficient heating solutions, with lower CO2 emissions compared to other methods.

Since June 15 2022 changes to Part L have come into effect, including specific provisions for air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. 

The Technical Guidance Document L 2021 covers various aspects such as the generator’s efficiency rate, controls of space heating or hot water systems and air conditioning standards too.

The I.S EN378-2:2016 standard ensures safety environmental measures apply when using refrigerating systems and heat pumps as part of a renewable energy solution too.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) To Be Maintained By Air Source Heat Pumps

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) are a set of regulations that aim to reduce fabric heat losses and improve the performance of building services in order to make them more energy-efficient.

MEES requirements apply to domestic properties rented out privately and those which require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). 

For conditioners, air source heat pumps, boilers, fans and other heating systems installed since 1 April 2018, their minimum Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) must adhere to strict standards as prescribed by the legislation.

For air source heat pumps there is often confusion surrounding what constitutes compliance with the applicable codes. 

In general terms these refer commonly referred values such as: 

  • Sound Pressure Levels
  • Noise impact distance from neighbor
  • Planning standards for MCS approved installations
  • Risk assessment for equivalent standards system commissioned post 2022 etc. 

This ensures owners have taken care when choosing installer/system design so they can be sure it complies both legally & technically with all relevant Building Regulation requirements on installation completion.

Standards For Insulation

While installing an air source heat pump, it is necessary to meet certain insulation standards for the overall system and components. 

Proper insulation ensures maximum efficiency and reliable operation of a unit while reducing energy consumption.

Insulation should be installed in a way that will reduce convective, conductive and radiative heat losses from walls, roofs, ducts etc., to ensure that no significant additional heating load is created.

Insulation In Residential Building

In most residential buildings, all internal pipework needs to be insulated with at least 10 mm of material approved for this purpose or more if on the outside of the building envelope (for single wall pipes above 1 inch).

Insulation In Commercial Building

In commercial buildings there are often stricter requirements related to insulation based on specific industry regulations such as BS EN 13144-1: 2018 Heat pumps  Measurement guidelines Standard Rate Tests.

Compliance With Building Regulations For Air Source Heat Pumps In Residential Properties

Ensuring compliance with building regulations for air source heat pumps in residential properties requires obtaining certification and accreditation, planning permission, and assessing key considerations such as sizing, location, ventilation, building codes, noise levels and sound insulation.

Certification And Accreditation Of Air Source Heat Pumps

Certification and accreditation for air source heat pumps are essential to ensure the quality, efficiency, and compliance of such systems. 

Certification programs provide third-party validation that products meet certain industry standards and criteria, so building professionals can trust they’re making informed decisions on their purchase.

These certifications look at energy efficiency, climate features like noise impact or distance from neighbors needed for installation, level of emissions produced by equipment itself etc., so a comprehensive evaluation is carried out.

AHRI Standard 210/240 – Unit Air Conditioners & Heat Pumps is an example type of certification program popular among air source heat pump providers. 

It ensures manufacturers have met various requirements demonstrating high performance and reliability in their units plus been tested to comply with any regulation governing noise levels also including environmental friendliness requirement in order to be certified compliant as per guidelines mentioned therein.

Moreover other government approved bodies such as,

Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) 

Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) offer comparable accredited standards providing consumer protection offering assurance customers getting the same standard regardless of type or purpose built property it is being installed into.

Planning Permission And Permitted Development Rights

Air source heat pumps for residential and commercial buildings require certain planning permission and permitted development rights in order to be installed.

Residential PropertiesAir source heat pumps may be permitted under Class G of the Town & Country Planning subject to a compliance certificate ensuring that the system has been properly designed and meets the requirements of Part L of building regulations. 
Commercial BuildingsPlanning permission is usually required even though convenient small-scale renewable technologies like air source heat pumps and wind turbines fall into some types of permissible activities.

Appropriate Sizing Of Air Source 

Proper sizing is essential to ensure the unit is efficient enough to meet the building’s heating or cooling needs without excessive wear on the system components.

An undersized system will not be able to provide adequate levels of comfort, while an oversized one will waste energy and result in significant performance drops as it ages.

Location Of The Unit

Location plays an important role too. The external environment should be taken into consideration – ideally selecting a sheltered spot away from direct sunny areas and prevailing wind directions

Ventilation Of The Unit

In order to maintain preferred ventilation all around the year; otherwise airflow must be addressed by locating units correctly with respect to obstructions like walls rather than trying to counterbalance them through over-sizing appliances leading towards suboptimal results regarding both efficiency and economic impact.

Compliance With Building Codes And Standards

It is an essential part of installing and maintaining an air source heat pump. Compliance with building regulations helps to ensure the safety, efficiency, and proper functioning of systems like HVAC systems and air source heat pumps (ASHPs).

As an example, California’s Energy Code Title 24 part 6, includes energy efficiency requirements which must be met when installing central AC systems including ASHPs in residential buildings.

Noise Levels And Sound Insulation Requirements

How To Ensure Compliance With Air Source Heat Pump Building Regulations?

By understanding the necessary planning standards, hiring a qualified installer and ensuring proper installation and regular maintenance of an air source heat pump system, compliance with building regulations can be achieved.

Understanding The Planning Standards For Air Source Heat Pump Systems

Planning standards for air source heat pumps are in place to ensure that installations and operations are carried out safely and effectively, maximizing the efficiency of energy use, while minimizing emissions.

The specific requirements laid out by these regulations vary depending on whether a commercial or residential building is being served by an air source heat pump system. 

For example, when operating within a domestic environment, any air source heating equipment must meet certain minimum noise levels as stated under Part L – Conservation of Fuel & Power – of Building Regulations (for England & Wales).

Hiring A Qualified Installer

Hiring a qualified installer is essential for ensuring that air source heat pumps are properly installed and meet all the relevant building regulations.

Qualified installers have specialized knowledge and experience in the installation of these systems, enabling them to carry out installations correctly according to both manufacturer’s instructions as well as local requirements.

Any reputable installer should be able to provide certification of competence along with copies of their qualifications, insurance policies, CSCS cards proving their level of expertise and formal diplomas or accreditations such as Gas Safe registration.

Importance Of Proper Installation Of Air Source Heat Pump

When air source heat pumps are installed and maintained properly, the result can be an efficient, attractively designed HVAC system that delivers energy savings as well as improved indoor air quality.

Proper installation is important to ensure a smooth and quiet running system, compliance with building codes, and safe operation. 

Poorly installed systems may produce more noise than expected or fail to meet certain safety standards creating hazardous conditions for users.

Additionally, improper installation may lead to inefficient performance or reduced lifespan of the unit due to insufficient cooling or heating capacity that causes damage over time.

Regular Maintenance Of Air Source Heat Pump

Regular maintenance is also very important for proper functioning of air source heat pump systems. 

Without regular care such as filter changes, cleaning coils and other moving parts regularly can cause malfunctions due to accumulated dirt and debris reducing air flow in addition this needs correct inspection of leakage effects on the pressure side which in case of wrong determination could reduce efficiency .

Furthermore neglecting these maintenance tasks can lead to higher utility bills if not addressed furthering increasing costs.

Monitoring Energy Efficiency And Emissions  Of Air Source Heat Pump

The ability to monitor energy efficiency and emissions is of crucial importance when installing air source heat pumps, in order to ensure compliance with building regulations.

Standard tests such as the Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) test or specified energy performance metrics can be used to measure how well a system performs over time. In addition, regular testing can detect malfunctions and enhance system optimization for greater efficiency and fewer carbon emissions.

Monitoring energy efficiency also allows for higher ratings on various accolades including LEED certification, which can increase the value of residential or commercial projects.

By monitoring the performance of the unit regularly during installation and after it has been put into service, systems can be adjusted based on feedback from these tests to not only improve their operating lifespans but reduce their environmental impacts too.

Benefits Of Complying With Air Source Heat Pump Building Regulations

Adopting air source heat pump building regulations provides a wealth of benefits, such as increased energy efficiency, reduced costs and emissions, improved air quality, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

Increased Energy Efficiency

Air source heat pumps are an energy-efficient heating and cooling system for residential and commercial buildings. 

They typically use less electricity than traditional furnaces or boilers, making them very cost-effective over time.

Heat pumps also do not combust any fuel, helping to reduce air pollution inside a building and improving indoor air quality. 

As such, using an appropriate sizing, locationing, and ventilation of the unit as well as warranted with strict compliance with building codes and standards can significantly increase energy efficiency in residential or commercial environments while also meeting minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES).

Reduced Costs And Emissions

Compliance with air source heat pump building regulations is an important step in reducing costs and emissions. 

These systems must meet energy efficiency and emissions standards, as well as other requirements, that are established within building regulations in order to qualify for government incentives or subsidies.

By investing in a compliant system the homeowner or business owner can benefit from reduced long-term operating costs and improved energy efficiency which will result in lower bills and a decreased carbon footprint.

Improved Air Quality

Air source heat pumps are a cost-effective and energy efficient way to improve indoor air quality in buildings. 

Heat pumps run without combustion, so they do not emit pollutants like other heating systems relying on traditional fuels such as natural gas or oil.

By replacing fossil fuel burning systems with electric heat pumps, it is possible to achieve drastic reductions in emissions of greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.

Studies have shown that using an electric reverse cycle system for heating rather than gas decreases overall pollution levels by up to 12%.

Air source heat pumps must comply with the statutory building regulations applicable to all installations. 

The exact requirements depend on the location of the premises and context, but generally speaking, an energy performance certificate (EPC) should be obtained for a property before installation of a heat pump.

Additional compliance certificates or declarations may also be required from qualified builders or providers who have followed specific regulatory guidance.

Buildings must also meet standard requirements for insulation including wall cladding pieces that have good thermal insulating characteristics.

Non-compliance can result in large financial penalties along with potential legal action taken against those responsible for failing inspections.

Choosing A Qualified Installer For Your Air Source Heat Pump

Finding a qualified, reliable installer for your air source heat pump is essential to ensure compliance with building regulations. 

With the right accreditations and certifications, you can enjoy peace of mind that your system will be installed correctly and safely.

Look For Accreditation And Certifications

When it comes to choosing an installer for an air source heat pump, one of the most important considerations is finding a qualified and experienced installer who has all the relevant certifications and accreditations.

Accreditation demonstrates that your chosen technician has both competence and quality workmanship in top-notch condition. 

Furthermore, these technicians are committed to customer care with continual improvement.

Examples of qualifications you should look out for include MCS certification, Section 608 certification (for HVAC specialists), certifications for ground source heat pump installers, as well as UKAS accredited environmental chamber laboratories which can assess heat pump products.

Ask For References And Portfolio

When choosing an installer for your air source heat pump, it is important to ask for references and a portfolio of previously completed work.

This will ensure that you are hiring someone who is properly qualified and experienced to carry out the installation correctly. 

Working with a qualified and experienced professional can help protect you from the risks associated with working with an unqualified or inexperienced installer.

A qualified and experienced installer can also provide valuable insights into how to best size, locate, and install the system in order to maximize energy efficiency while remaining in compliance with local building regulations.

Obtain Multiple Quotes

  • Finding the best installation team for your air source heat pump system is critical to ensuring compliance with building regulations and obtaining favorable performance from your unit.
  • Before signing on any contracts, ask potential installers for quotes based on the proposed system size and complexity.
  • It also pays to obtain at least three different bids before making a decision so that you can compare prices and services being offered. 
  • Additionally, make sure each quote includes all related costs such as labor, materials, taxes etc.

Importance Of Proper Installation

It is extremely important to ensure that an air source heat pump (ASHP) is installed properly in order to obtain the expected benefits from it. If not, a range of safety hazards can arise, as well as decreased energy efficiency and even non-compliance with building regulations.

Hiring a professional contractor qualified in the installation of ASHP systems is key for project success. This will help minimize the risk of poor workmanship or incorrect installation methodology due to lack of experience or improper training which can negatively impact system performance and effectiveness.

The installer needs to be familiar not only with local building codes but also any other applicable industry standards such as MCS Planning Standards or equivalent standards in order to meet requirements.


Air source heat pumps are an efficient and popular green HVAC technology. The installation of these systems must comply with the relevant building regulations in order to operate safely, accurately, and efficiently.


How much does it cost to install an air source heat pump? 

The cost of installing an air source heat pump can vary, depending on the system type and size, location, installation complexity, as well as other factors. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000-$12,000 for a standard installation in a residential property.

What is the lifespan of an air source heat pump? 

Air source heat pumps typically have an estimated operational life span ranging from 10-15 years with regular maintenance and servicing. However with proper care and attention they may last longer than this.

Is there any noise associated with using an air source heat pump? 

Most modern models should be below 50 decibels at one meter away from the unit – equivalent to what you would hear in a library or at home when people are naturally talking. Older systems may produce more noise due their outdated technology

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