At home with a heat pump: ‘It makes hot water when it’s freezing outside’ | Energy bills

John and Carol Deed, Thriplow, Cambs
“We had an air source heat pump installed in January 2020 and that turned out to be a really good decision,” says John Deed, a former marketing director in the automotive industry.

Deed and his wife Carol began considering heating options for their four-bedroom detached 1970s home when it became clear that their 25-year-old oil boiler was “on its last legs.”

“We took into account both the cost and the environmental impact and this precluded re-using oil – [it’s] Price volatility, delivery difficulties and of course not good for the environment, ”he says. They decided on an electric heat pump to get the most out of their green electricity tariff, and planned solar panels that they installed over the summer. The house has already benefited from cavity wall insulation, attic insulation and double glazing.

“The first pleasant surprise was how nice it was to have the whole house, which is around 1,700 square meters, at 20 degrees all day, especially when Covid locked us in our house for much longer than normal,” says Deed. “The second pleasant surprise was the running costs.”

After a heavy initial outlay, the couple’s solar panels now generate more than enough electricity to run the Mitsubishi heat pump, compared to £ 900 a year for oil. The heat pump cost £ 14,000; the government grant of £ 8,400 paid over a seven year period leaves a net cost of £ 5,600.

“It’s no louder than the boiler and it’s a mystery how it creates hot water when the air temperature outside is freezing, but we’ll take that!”

“As useful as a chocolate fire guard”

Alf Mangera, Blackburn
“That was the biggest mistake I’ve made in a long time,” says Alf Mangera, a youth worker in Blackburn, about his decision to install a heat pump in his house just before Christmas.

My buddy has the double pump with underfloor heating – works great. I would only consider a heat pump again when the technology has improved

Mangera bought his newly built home nine years ago and has since renovated it, including new insulation, triple glazing and solar panels. “I am very energy conscious. So the next step was to buy an air / water heat pump, ”he says.

He believes his plumber suggested a heat pump model that wasn’t powerful enough to heat the house once the cold winter weather set in. On days with temperatures above 5 ° C, the single pump device could keep the house warm, but on days colder than 5 ° C it was “as useful as a chocolate fire protection”.

Mangera’s energy consumption rose from 500 units of electricity per month to more than 2,000 units and “everyone was cold,” he says. The plumber later admitted that a double pump might have been better and offered to upgrade the model, but Mangera told the plumber to “take them away unless they also put in underfloor heating”.

“I’ve talked to other people about their heat pumps – there are some good Mitsubishi models out there – but I feel like I got a cheap copy,” he says. “I have a buddy and he let it be done; In his new building he has the double pump with underfloor heating and it works great, ”he adds. “I would only consider a heat pump again when the technology has improved.”

“Technology is constantly improving”

Mark Food, Felsted, Essex
“We had our first heat pump installed about 10 years ago and it was horrible,” says Mark Food of Felsted in Essex. For seven years, the air source heat pump – which he says was “poorly installed and poorly built” – struggled to keep the four-bedroom, 1930s home warm in cold weather, following complaints from neighbors about the noise yourself.

“Today we installed the ‘Rolls-Royce of heat pumps’ and it’s awesome,” says Food. He says the new generation air pump built by Mitsubishi is capable of keeping the whole house warm and producing enough hot water for the family of four. Overall, the family is likely spending £ 140 a month on electricity, which is broadly in line with estimates for a combined gas and electricity bill in a large house. “And you hardly hear it,” says Food.

This is also due to the fact that there is underfloor heating, which is ideal for heat pumps, and that the pull-out is more energy-efficient than required in the past. Food suspects that many of the negative experiences with heat pumps likely stem from old, poorly installed models in poorly insulated homes.

“The technology is constantly improving. The trick is to let the heat pump run in third or fourth gear – you don’t have to fiddle with it – and it keeps the temperature up. “

“It felt like we should do something”

Tom Kiss, Brighton
“I installed a heat pump in my last house and I was absolutely thrilled,” says Tom Kiss, a web designer from Brighton. “I miss our heat pump! I think they are absolutely fantastic and I will no doubt install one in my new home. “

When we looked at this there were some horror stories that were a bit of a downer, but we did our research on Tom Kiss

At the beginning of 2019, Kiss decided on an air source heat pump for its Victorian terrace, after the “long, slow death of our gas boiler” after he had already installed interior wall insulation and converted the attic.

“That was a difficult decision back then,” he says. “When we looked at this, there were some horror stories that were a bit of a downer, but we did our research. As a relatively privileged middle-class family, it felt like we should do that because we could barely afford it. “

With a government grant, the high acquisition costs of a heat pump compared to a boiler make more sense, says Kiss. He paid just over £ 8,500 for a Mitsubishi EcoDan 8.5kW model and was able to claim £ 6,300 over seven years from the government’s incentive for renewable heating. That left a net cost of £ 2,264 – or less than the £ 2,700 offer he received to install a new gas boiler. The new owner of the house now collects the subsidy payments.

Kiss says his initial concerns about noise or that heat pump-powered radiators wouldn’t get that hot proved unfounded. It is “not efficient or necessary” that the radiators are very hot to keep the house constant at 21 ° C, he says, and the pump was “literally right next to our back door and we couldn’t hear it.”

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