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Case study

Gwilym: installing a ground source heat pump in an old home

Gwilym and his family set about making their heritage home more sustainable by installing insulation, solar panels and a ground source heat pump.

Please scroll down to read this case study in Welsh.

Gwilym and his family live in an 1860s home in Dyffryn Nantle, North Wales. His home had previously been very inefficient and relied on a gas Rayburn for hot water and a gas boiler for heat. Gwilym and his family set about making their heritage home more sustainable by first draught-proofing and insulating what they could in the roof and walls, and by fitting secondary double glazing. He then installed a ground source heat pump, underfloor heating and new larger radiators and solar photovoltaic panels.

Why did you decide to install a heat pump?

We had spent a lot of time researching how to make our older home more efficient to prove that an old house can also be a green house. I’d seen that heat pumps were widely used in Scandinavia and so thought that if it would work there, then surely we could make it work here as well. I grew up in this house and wanted to help future-proof it for my children. We now have an inexhaustible source of heat via the ground loops. With the work that we’ve done on the house now we are able to keep all the rooms in the house warm throughout the year, and with the solar panels around half the electricity we use is generated here. Before we made the improvements, we were spending around £300 every month on gas. These costs have been cut right down.

Snowdonia National Park in Gwynedd, North Wales

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

Not relying on fossil fuels for heating. It’s also been great to show others that this kind of work can be done in an older home and that it can be affordable and comfortable.

Do you receive any payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive? Was this a factor in your decision to install a heat pump?

We do receive RHI payments and it did help tip the balance. It makes the repayment period much shorter. We were fortunate and privileged in that we had the upfront capital to pay for many of these things and the time and inclination to do lots of the research and management. It would be great to see people being supported with the upfront costs and given tailored advice because every home, and particularly older homes like ours, is different.

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

Don’t assume that because you live in an older home or a home that is inefficient, that renewable heating isn’t for you. We have really enjoyed the process of making our home more environmentally friendly. It is important to do your research and seek advice if you can but there is no better feeling than being warm in our home and looking out at our solar panels knowing that it’s all renewable energy that’s being generated on-site.

Last updated: 6 March 2024