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Make sure you are well insulated to save money with an air source heat pump

DSCF9919With the new Renewable Heat Incentive launched recently, I thought I would write a brief post about air source heat pumps. If you are thinking of replacing a boiler running on oil any time soon, then it would certainly be worth looking at replacing it with an air source heat pump. An engineer came to my house recently to service mine and told me that you can save as much as two thirds on your heating bill when compared to oil. This is certainly what we are experiencing but then we have the ideal conditions for it to be efficient. We live in a very well insulated new build home and the heat pump runs water through oversized radiators at low temperature. If your house is poorly insulated then you will need to run your ASHP at a higher temperature which will make it inefficient and expensive to run as otherwise the majority of heat will disappear through the walls before you feel it in your home. This is why oil fired radiators feel hot to touch, at least that way some of this heat will stay in your home! ASHP’s also run very well combined with underfloor heating as this works best at low temperature.

Therefore if you are thinking of installing a heat pump, it is best to ensure you have a well insulated house or refurbish to achieve this. With the right amount of insulation you will also qualify for the RHI fund that I wrote about in a previous post. With an average cost of £8000*  to install a heat pump, you could recoup most of this over a 7 year period from the government.

*Heat Pumps the Great Debate;home building and renovating magazine; April 2014

May 25, 2014

The Renewable Heat Incentive- get paid to install renewable technologies and save money on energy bills

The Renewable Heat Incentive is a government scheme where you actually get paid to install a renewable heat generation technology. So far these include Air Source Heat Pumps, Ground Source Heat Pumps and Solar Thermal (solar hot water heating), but there are plans to include Solar Photovoltaic (solar electric) panels to the scheme. This could mean that the reduction in feed in tariffs is more than compensated for with this scheme, but we will have to wait and see.

Broadly the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme aims to pay you back the cost of installing the renewable technology over a seven year period. Each home owner will need to have a green deal assessment and receive an Energy Performance Certificate as well as have sufficient insulation to ensure that installing the renewable heat source isn’t a waste of time. That will mean a minimum of 250mm insulation in the loft and cavity wall insulation (if possible) to qualify.

This scheme will also apply to self-builders and the energy rating will be based on SAP calculations.

A table in the Home Building and Renovating magazine shows the likely savings from the scheme against cost of installation (average):

HB&R RHI table

Link to the Home Building and Renovating Article here


May 11, 2014

Rainwater Harvesting

IMG_2758I recently visited a client’s house where the works are nearly finished. Over tea they told me about how they were getting on with their new rainwater harvesting tank which is 1800 litres capacity. To get an idea for how big that is, have a look at the picture left which shows the builder, Dale Walton in the hole required to fit the tank. They use the collected water from the roof for flushing toilets and washing clothes and they have calculated that the tank lasts them 6 weeks before it is dry and the next rain shower(s) will fill it up again. What this highlighted for me is how much water we actually use. They have two small children, so that is four people’s flushes and laundry. But it is effectively 10 litres a person a day just for loo flushing and laundry, not counting showers, baths, drinking water. This water can also be used for washing cars and watering plants and if everyone did this it will really help relieve pressure on the surface water system and help to prevent flooding which we saw had such a devastating effect on Somerset recently. Even if you just install water butts for plant watering and washing the car, you will really be helping to stop overloading the drains which cause flooding.

The link to the rainwater tank they used is here: Free Rain Rainwater Tank These tanks are strong and don’t require concrete backfill.

May 2, 2014
Rainwater Harvesting