22 November 2020 | by Gemma McFarlane
When we moved into our house 9 years ago it was a wreck, it had 1960’s decoration and needed everything updating. We had two very young children and moved into the house in November so fixing the heating was a priority. We would have loved to have put in a renewable energy system but they were so expensive and we had so much work to do to the house! We didn’t feel we had any other option but to install a gas boiler. Over the years we looked into renewable energy systems but the information was so confusing and quite negative about the options. It also sounded too expensive for us to think about contacting a local supplier.
A few weeks ago I met a lovely lady from a nearby village in a zoom meeting. She told me how some of the residents in the village had installed air source heat pumps. She herself had installed a solar array which she is very kindly going to write about for us. After talking to the residents, they welcomed me to have a look.
Today I went to see them. Both residents are really happy with their new system and say it was a no brainer to do. They both took advantage of the Renewable Heating Incentive scheme. https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/domestic-rhi
” Both residents are really happy with their new system and say it was a no brainer to do.”
This enables them to, after paying for the system initially, receive around £300 every quarter for 7 years which in their case will cover the cost of their systems. This scheme ends in March 2022. To take up this initiative you will need to have an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) to find out how energy efficient your house is. This costs around £50.
There is a new grant being offered from October 2020 until March 2022 called a Green Homes Grant. Homeowners are offered a grant of £5000 towards a renewable energy system or up to £10,000 for low income households or receive qualifying benefits. This has been very popular and installers are booking up.
Click the link to find out more: https://greenhomesgrant.campaign.gov.uk/
The first resident I went to see lives in an older flint house which is not as well insulated as a newer house. She is very happy with the air source heat pump. She had an oil system before which consists of a large oil tank outside the property and a water cylinder inside. The air source heat pump takes a little less space than the oil tank and the cylinder was a similar size to the one before. With the oil system there would be periods of the day when the house was quite cold but she is now able to run the air source heat pump at a lower temperature throughout the day which keeps the house at a warm, comfortable temperature all day. To turn on from cold does take a little while to heat up so you couldn’t turn on the system and expect your house to be warm within half an hour. The system can be programmed to allow the radiators to heat up gradually before you know you’ll need it. The system can be turned off if you are out of the house for long periods of the day but will need to be programmed to turn on a couple of hours before you come home.
The second house I visited is a newer house. Because of the type of house, it is insulated downstairs but not upstairs. This house also had an oil system previously. The owner was very conscious of the smell from the oil tank and didn’t like the thought of burning oil. Talking to other residents who had changed their system encouraged her to do the same. Again the air source heat pump sits in the space of the oil tank and the cylinder replaced the old one in a boiler cupboard built into the side of the house so this didn’t cause any disruption inside. She keeps the thermostat at 20°c (14°c during the summer) and leaves the air source heat pump to work as needed. Her electricity bill has increased but is not as much as she was previously paying for oil.
Both systems were fitted in two days. They used the same local company who arranged electricians and carpenters if required.
Neither resident needed to change the radiators in their houses or have any extra pipes other than from the pump to the cylinder. The installer advised them to live with the radiators they have at first. If they found a room too cold they could then change the radiator for a larger one. They haven’t had to do this.
The radiators don’t get hot so you can’t dry your clothes on them. The cylinder is very well insulated and doesn’t lose any heat.
The system will stop heating the house when it’s heating the water. The first resident heats the water from 2 – 4am and that’s enough for the day.
The second resident heats her water twice a day but she suspects she may only need to heat it once a day.
For both these houses, the air source heat pump and cylinder sit in the space of the oil system. If you have a combi gas boiler, you will need to find space for a unit outside and space for a water cylinder inside the house. The outside unit was roughly 1 metre wide and 80cm high. It came out from the wall about 50cm and will need space in front to take in air. The water cylinder which sits inside the house is roughly 50cm wide but needs space around for the pipework. It was roughly 180cm high.
I was impressed with what they told me so we’ve applied for the grant and are waiting to hear. Now to save for the solar panels.
Speaking to people has helped us to decide to change over to an air source heat pump. If you have a renewable heating system or have made any changes in your lifestyle to be more sustainable, please tell us about it. It may help someone else to make a change.