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Energy Saving Trust
Case Study

Ben Whittle: switching to an air source heat pump

Energy Saving Trust's Ben Whittle decided to make the switch to a renewable air source heat pump.

Ben Whittle works as a technical manager in Energy Saving Trust’s renewables team, based in Cardiff. He has over 15 years of renewables experience in heat pumps, solar PV and biomass.

Why did you decide to install a heat pump?

Having been in the renewables game for 20 years, I knew I had to put my money where my mouth was. And let’s not forget that this really is a big financial decision. My 25-year-old boiler broke down and I was just about to build an extension, so I did the sensible thing and dealt with both at once.

What’s the main benefit of having a heat pump?

Cheaper heating costs, convenience (no more organising fuel deliveries), and as anyone in my team will tell you, an unparalleled air of smugness!

Do you receive payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive?

I am expecting to receive payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). I think anyone who says that incentives are not part of the decision-making process is possibly not being 100% honest. They won’t pay for the installation outright, but over seven years about 75% of the capital cost will be covered and the fuel savings will make up the rest with surplus on top.

What advice would you offer someone considering installing a heat pump?

I think there is a parallel here to draw with owning an electric vehicle. Once you have agonised over details like efficiency, value for money, whether you can afford it or not, you bite the bullet. And then it all seems like a real non-issue. Life goes on and you wonder why you spent so much time worrying about it! And you would definitely never go back.

My best advice would be find an installer who you get a good feeling about and ideally comes with personal recommendations. You are better off having an average heat pump installed by a competent installer for a fair price that will still be in business in a year’s time than finding the cheapest ‘deal’ from the latest company to jump on the band wagon.

I also stick by the idea that local installers have a reputation to protect, and national operators are more likely to cut corners. Finally, never respond to a leaflet through the door – companies that operate like this are mostly playing a numbers game.

Thinking of installing a heat pump?

Explore our low carbon heating advice pages to find out whether an air source or ground source heat pump could work for you.

Find out more

Last updated: 5 April 2021