Peter Hughes: buying a newbuild with an air source heat pump
Pete bought a newbuild property where the developer had installed air source heat pumps for all five properties in the area.
Our partnership development manager for the Welsh Government’s Nest scheme, Peter Hughes, has been a proud heat pump owner since 2016. He bought a newbuild property where the developer had installed air source heat pumps for all five properties on the development and has halved his family’s energy bills since using the renewable heating system.
Can you tell us about your heat pump?
We bought a new home nearly five years ago, which came complete with a new air source heat pump, so it was already installed. We live within a small development where all our neighbours have similar systems.
The system heats our domestic water and powers an underfloor heating circuit downstairs and a separate circuit running convector radiators upstairs. The pump is located at the side of the house and is around seven years old now. It is quite a large unit compared with heat pumps available now, as the technology is moving on so fast.
Do you receive payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive?
We looked into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which is great for householders who wish to convert an existing system to renewable heating. Our heat pump was already installed so we don’t qualify for RHI.
Applying for RHI support looks to be a straightforward process. It will involve doing your research carefully, using an MCS-registered installer, and then apply within 12 months of installing. The RHI scheme is currently open until 31 March 2022.
What are some of the benefits of owning a heat pump?
Being heat pump users for five years we noticed a number of benefits:
Low energy costs – in our first year at the property our total annual energy bill was less than £600, compared with around £1,300 in our previous similar sized property, using a gas/electricity tariff. The savings really do depend on getting a good value electricity tariff and learning how to use the pump and controls to maximise the benefits. The fabric of the building also makes a difference, so they are a much cheaper option in a thermally efficient property like ours.
It’s great off-gas solution – in the part of West Wales where we live, two-thirds of households have no access to mains gas, and bulk LPG and oil-fired heating is commonplace. This costs more than mains gas, plus you have minimum fuel delivery amounts costing hundreds of pounds, which can be a real problem for residents on low incomes. With a heat pump you can pay monthly or via prepay like all electric customers.
It’s cleaner and greener – it feels good to be using a renewable technology and reducing our carbon footprint. There are no oil or gas fumes, leaking oil tanks or flammable gas to think about, and there are no ‘tanker miles’ associated with bulk LPG and oil deliveries. I can also use a green tariff for my electricity to power the heat pump. For every unit of electricity used to run the pump, it gives around 3-4 units back by converting the air temperature outside to run our heating. It’s also nice and quiet when running.
Underfloor heating – this type of heating goes hand in hand with many air source heat pump installations. And it is luxurious feeling the warmth under your feet!
What advice would you offer someone considering installing a heat pump?
In a way, we have become experts through engaging with the technology, learning how the system works and how to maximise the benefits. My advice would be to do your research on the available technologies and the building itself. Use experts like Energy Saving Trust and speak to MCS-registered installers who will advise on costs and suitability. Wherever possible, obtain three quotes for the work. There is a great tool here to help you with this. Finally, enjoy being part of the transition to renewable heating!
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.