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Cutting the Carbs

Release Date: 02/04/2012

A combination of factors including the muddle over the Feed In Tariff for solar PV, delays over the domestic RHI and confusion over the Green Deal have strained our fledgling relationship with renewable technology. The Coalition has been accused of sending ‘teasing’ and contradictory messages out; expressing the desire to be the greenest ever Government while reining in eco incentives faster than a retreat from a first date promise! 

The language of renewable love is therefore more measured and temperate now and hopefully will lead to a long-term and stable marriage between our desire to save money and the market aspirations of the installer community who are looking for long-term relationships with its customers. The consumer wants reliable and cheap energy. The Government, the broker or breaker of this marriage, wants to leave a lasting legacy of having the lowest carbon economy in Europe by 2020.

Quid Pro Quo, the installer base needs to invest in their expertise and skills across a variety of low carbon technologies because energy saving has become a ‘hygiene factor’ and more mainstream. Installers need to be able to advise on and install a diverse range of carbon-reducing solutions as consumers are more willing to look at solutions that will help them manage their ever increasing energy bills.

Air source heat pumps (ASHP), for example, provide a low carbon solution that absorbs heat from the outside air to heat radiators, under floor heating systems, or warm air convectors and hot water in a home.  They work on the reverse principles of refrigeration and can convert outside air temperatures as low as -15° to warm ambient heat.

ASHPs can lower fuel bills, especially if householders are replacing conventional electric heating.  With the recent announcement from Government, these units are now substantially supported via the additional funding just made available through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) and will in time provide an income through the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) when that kicks in for the domestic market next year.

Installers who may have stalled over diversifying into renewables because of the FIT confusion now have a new opportunity to get involved with this up and coming technology by becoming registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) through ELECSA.  The MCS scheme is designed to ensure quality and reliability in the fast growing microgeneration industry and ELECSA is recognised as a leading certification body, run by contractors for the benefit of contractors.

More importantly, ASHPs can significantly lower a home’s carbon emissions, depending on which fuel is being replaced.  For installers they are practically a ‘fit and forget’ technology as they are easier to install than a ground source heat pump and require little maintenance, although installation through an ELECSA MCS registered contractor provides consumers with confidence and protection, by guaranteeing that microgeneration products and installers who carry the mark meet robust quality standards.

Unlike gas and oil boilers, heat pumps deliver heat at lower temperatures over much longer periods. During the winter they may need to be on constantly to heat a home efficiently, although radiators won't feel as hot to the touch as they might do when you are using a gas or oil boiler.

Heat pumps may have some impact on the environment as they need electricity to run, but the heat they extract from the ground, air, or water is constantly being renewed naturally.