Advertising watchdog halts air-source heat pump ad

An advert for air-source heat pumps claiming the technology could cut winter fuel bills by 40% has been criticised by advertising watchdogs.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced today (August 3) an advert for ACS Renewable Solutions could not appear in its current form again.

Its ruling, which can be read in full here, upheld three issues with the advert put forward by rivals Calor Gas and dismissed two others.

The claim that air-source heat pumps 'reduce your winter fuel bills by 40%' was based on five customers case studies and BRE standard house set models.

However, the ASA found, because the advert claimed an absolute saving of 40% for all customers, which would not be the case, the claim was misleading.

The judgement also ruled against the claim that 'for every unit of electricity used to power the pump, three units of heat are produced, which is why an air source heat pumps can be more than 300% more efficient than conventional gas, LPG or oil fired boilers' as 'no data existed' to substantiate the claim.

It also criticised the claim 'For every one kilowatt of energy used an air-source heat pump will generate approximately 3.5 kilowatts of heat making them over three times as efficient as a traditional heating system.

The ASA ruled this was an 'absolute' claim that the heat pump would generate approximately 3.5 kilowatts of heat, but also noted from the site monitoring report that the unit COP of the heat pump had not been three in all circumstances - it therefore understood the system COP would also be less than three in those cases.

In mitigation ACS Renewable Solutions said the mailing was targeted to homeowners without connection to mains gas, which was why the comparisons in the mailing were specific to oil or LPG powered heating.

It said the claim 'reduce your winter fuel bills by 40%' was based on actual customer savings, which was presented as a table.

ACS explained the information came from both Mitsubishi Ecodan customer case studies, where the calculations were verified to be correct by those customers, and from data provided by ACS customers.

Two other claims one of 'every year the cost of conventional fuel rises, the more cost efficient an air-source heat pump becomes', and a claim of consumers using the product would see a significant increase in their electricity bills, were not deemed misleading.

After the hearing the firm who took the case to the ASA Calor Gas' head of strategy, Paul Blacklock, was delighted.

He said: "We are delighted the ASA has agreed with us that ACS Renewable Solutions' claims about the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of air-source heat pumps could not be substantiated."

Luke Walsh


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