Wendy and Steve Knight installed an air source heat pump (ASHP) heating system in their Grade II-listed, 18th century home in Hunton, North Yorkshire, and say they could not be happier with it.
Prior to its installation in the summer of 2020, they were relying on an oil-fired boiler and spending about £1,000 a year on two oil tanker deliveries. On top of that they were spending about £900 a year on electricity.
“We really wanted to get rid of the oil system on environmental grounds, and so when the 25-year-old boiler needed replacing we started looking at ASHPs instead as a way to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Wendy.
In simple terms, an electric heat pump works like a reverse fridge, extracting warmth from the outside air, the ground or a nearby water source before concentrating the heat and transferring it indoors. They can usually be found outside a home, and they look like a standard air-conditioning unit.
About 85% of UK homes use gas boilers for heating, making it one of the most polluting sectors of the economy. The fossil fuels used in our homes for heating, hot water and cooking make up more than a fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions, meaning low-carbon alternatives are critical if the UK government hopes to meet its climate targets.
The couple paid Yorkshire Energy Systems from Harrogate just over £14,000 for the heating and hot water system. It was connected to the existing underfloor heating in their kitchen. A specially made hot water tank was installed under the stairs and 10 radiators were installed – significantly larger than the ones that were in the property previously. In some cases they have been hung vertically to make the best use of the space.
“We were lucky in that we had already spent a lot of time and money insulating the house. It can get very cold here, -8C is not uncommon in the winter, and the house is always warm. It’s so warm now that we rarely need to put the radiators on in the bedroom. We have never run out of hot water, even with baths. You have to leave the heating running all the time in the winter, and turn the thermostat up and down as required. The house is so much warmer and drier than it was,” she says.
The couple will recoup £9,000 of the cost through the Renewable Heat Incentive paid over seven years. They now pay £160 a month (£1,920 a year) to their 100% renewable electricity supplier – meaning their running costs are around the same as before, and their annual bill now includes the recharging of an electric car for 6,000 miles a year.
“I would definitely encourage others to install one, but I would advise people to do their research on their chosen installer. Ours were absolutely brilliant, even helping us with the RHI application, but I have heard some horror stories. It’s quieter than the older boiler, and there’s no kerosene smell in the garden, and zero carbon emissions. It has been brilliant,” she says.