Des Ingham

Heat Pumps & Hydrogen Powered Boilers Book

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Hello everyone, 

It`s great to be a member of this forum, my name is Des and I live in the north of England. My main reason for joining is that I am at present writing a book on the effects of climate change and the best options for creating a carbon neutral home. To that aim I am focusing on air source and ground source heat pumps along with the possibility of hydrogen powered boilers in homes in the near future. 

What I would really love is some feedback from people who have heat pumps installed, I would like to know their thoughts, both positive and negative, about their heat pump. Also a bit about the location and the type of house it is installed in, if you have complemented the heat pump with solar panels to help it be more carbon neutral, and any other bits of information you can provide. 

I would be really grateful if anyone can help with this and if they would be happy to be quoted in the book, which should be completed and out around late September. 

Thanks everyone 😊 

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Welcome to THE forum for people like us!

 

Once you have the answer perhaps you could tell HMG.

 

PS Will members who submit quotes get credited, if they wish to be, in the book.

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Absolutely they will Mike as long as they want to be credited, they can go anonymous if they wish but a first name and a general location would be great at least. 

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Hi Des, welcome to the forum. 

 

Tell us what your background is in relation to the subject matter.

 

Have you previously been involved in the house building, architectural, renewables industries or similar?

What's the insulation, airtightness and heating technology in your own home.

 

I'm happy to give my experience, but am keen to understand the audience to pitch it at.

 

 

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Hi Ian, thanks very much for your reply on my post. No I am not involved in house building or affiliated to any industry. I am pitching the book with climate change firmly at the forefront of my mind and looking to see what individual people can do to create a carbon free future, and at present heat pumps are the most viable option for the home with hydrogen powered boilers maybe closely following behind. I am looking at getting an air source heat pump installed myself, but may be moving in the next year or so and could look at a ground source heat pump then. 

I want to give people as much information as I can in the book, along with examples of people who already have heat pumps installed, so they can make their own informed choice. 

Hope this helps.

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Welcome Des, a very topical subject. Beware that you have now opened a whole can of worms! 😉 Just to start with a couple of questions: are you viewing the climate change issue merely from the perspective of greenhouse gas, CO2 in particular, or also wider environmental impact? And which home in particular is the heat pump most viable?

 

Causes some rather heated debates, and not just on this forum. 😁

 

Good luck with it.

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The No 1 thing to create a "carbon neutral" home is insulation and air tightness to keep the energy requirements down.  Then a low power heat pump will be all you need, and throw in some solar PV that will over the year generate more electricity than your house uses to run the heat pump, and you have a carbon neutral house.

 

That is easy to do for a new build (but still a lot of new builds don't come anywhere close).  The real problem, is what to do with the huge number of poorly insulated and draughty old houses?  Just sticking a heat pump in won't solve the problem.  I look forward to reading that chapter in your book.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, ProDave said:

That is easy to do for a new build (but still a lot of new builds don't come anywhere close).  The real problem, is what to do with the huge number of poorly insulated and draughty old houses?  Just sticking a heat pump in won't solve the problem.  I look forward to reading that chapter in your book.

 

Knock 'em all down and start again :) 

 

Would love to see the government contract documents for that.

 

But seriously, we do it all the time in utilities. "Condition Assessments" are standard and there is always a point where an asset is no longer worth upkeeping and it's better to demolish and replace with something new. That's because we're looking at 50yr timeframes. I think somebody needs to take the same look at our hosing stock and make the same calls. I doubt any politician would think that far in to the future - short term votes are all that matter to them.

Edited by Conor
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I concur with @ProDave above, rather than question your intentions re your book I will tell you of our experience,  I have recently installed (myself) an ASHP in my new build. The build is passive esk, I.e. following their principles but no certification. Although a traditional build with brick and block insulation levels are high, airtightness also is fairly high and the small 5KW heat pump is all that is required. I do have to admit we installed a wood burning stove 😱 but this is to burn our own harvested wood and used rarely, we do live in a very rural area and this stuff would have gone on a bonfire if not used in the stove 🤷‍♂️. I decided against PV as FIT was withdrawn before our completion date. I run a diesel car doing less than average miles but believe scrapping it to buy an EV is a waste, but I am sure EV will be my next car.

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Des Ingham said:

My main reason for joining is that I am at present writing a book on the effects of climate change and the best options for creating a carbon neutral home. To that aim I am focusing on air source and ground source heat pumps along with the possibility of hydrogen powered boilers in homes in the near future.

 

I don't personally see a route to the use of hydrogen for domestic heating, in the "net-zero by 2050" time frame, for anything other than a very small percentage of homes for which electric heating won't be achievable.

There isn't a process identified today that can produce net zero hydrogen at anything close to the per kWh cost of either Natural Gas or Electricity. Since the plans to achieve Net-zero by 2050 are taking shape now and legislation is being put in place now, it can't be based on the hope of a scientific break through that opens the door to cheap and plentiful net-zero hydrogen.

 

If and when that break-through does come, then at the point it can be scaled up, maybe it will become a competing option to electric heating. Unfortunately there is no date for when that may happen, but there are significant vested interests in the owners of the natural gas infrastructure that have motivation to talk up the possibility.

 

For new build homes the government needs to make only relatively minor changes to building regulation legislation, for heat pumps to be cost competitive with Natural Gas. It looks like that will be in place for 2025, at which point fossil fuel boilers will be banned for new builds.

 

With the promise from the government that the transition to net-zero domestic heating will be cost neutral in regards day-to-day costs, there will undoubtedly be  grants required to improve the energy losses and ready the heating systems of some houses to facilitate the use of a net-zero heating source.

 

For much of the existing housing stock, that will be achieved in the main by legislation, rather than grants. Minimum EPC C certificates will be required for all social and privately owned  rental homes by 2028, and by 2035 any home sold will be required to be EPC C or better. I assume by then fossil fuel boilers will not be allowed to be sold. I'd imagine some level of grant will be required for the switch over to a low temp heating system ie. to contribute to the costs of water cylinders and larger radiators and their plumbing.

 

This will devalue the homes that are difficult to improve to the required levels and shift them into the ownership of those least able to afford their improvement. I assume that is when the government has to step in with larger grants to improve the fabric as well as the heating system.

 

My personal experience is that I came to installing an ASHP for my space heating and hot water for reasons other than saving the planet. Quite simply there isn't a gas main with a mile of my entrance, so an ASHP with RHI contribution was significantly better value than the Oil or LPG options I had. I was surprised at how generous the RHI grant was, but it has been tightened since.  I shared the common view on this Forum of 4 or 5 years ago, that if Gas was available then it was the cost effective choice.

 

However the mood-music has changed now, or perhaps it's just got louder. My view now is that ASHPs are the right choice for new builds (and significant renovations) even when Gas is available, otherwise within 10-15 years the property will be requiring a significant update or be facing a devaluation.

 

Anyhow, having chosen to go with an ASHP I felt it best to combine it with a low energy loss fabric achieved with U values of 0.10W/m²K to 0.11W/m²K for floor, walls and roof; 0.6W/m²K to 0.8W/m²K for windows and doors and an air tightness targeted at 0.6AH, but to my surprise substantially improved on.

I don't know that my experience can really be carried across to owners of existing houses considering moving to an ASHP, but with a heating system designed for the property's energy losses and hot water requirements, it does exactly what it's supposed to, without any fuss and day-to-day running costs that are slightly below an equivalent Natural Gas system.

Edited by IanR
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13 minutes ago, IanR said:

Minimum EPC C certificates will be required for all social and privately owned  rental homes by 2028, and by 2035 any home sold will be required to be EPC C or better.

Excellent summary of the situation Ian.

 

So by 2035 any home not economically able to achieve an EPC C becomes a building plot?  Whole estates of them could be demolished and rebuilt?  The 21st Century "slum clearances"?

 

It has certainly hardened my view that I would not personally buy a house now worse than EPC C unless it was very cheap with a clear way of upgrading it.

 

 

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I still have a big question on how the electrical infrastructure will support all the extra load from heat pumps, electric heating and EV car charging when he try to get rid of gas boilers and petrol cars. The supply cable coming into the street ain’t very big and our spinning reserve of generation ain’t big either.

 

Yip houses with good insulation is vital but as stated a lot of the housing stock is around the pre and post war era and can only be improved so far.

 

What do we do at night when the wind ain’t blowing and so there is no solar PV and we have mined all the limited supply of Lithium for our batteries. The interconnectors to Europe are working at full tilt and importing leccy possibly  generated by coal anyway.

 

Can’t help thinking there is a lot of green wash getting painted about by politicians trying to vote score without thinking things through.

Lets get our housing stock sorted, properly assess the environmental impact of people like me that will be encouraged/forced into scrapping a perfectly good ICE car for a Lithium battery car, encourage less babies by stopping family allowance at two kids. I can go on but I don’t want to sidetrack us too much.

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I would be interested to see solutions for heating and hot water in flats and bedsits.

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A good solution for future proofing houses built right now, would be mandate under floor heating is fitted, not radiators, so even if fitted with a gas boiler now, and upgrade to a heat pump would be a lot easier.

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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, Mr Punter said:

I would be interested to see solutions for heating and hot water in flats and bedsits.

 

Some creative thinking will be required.

For some it will be wall hung ASHP's, in the same way A/C units are installed on flats in warmer countries. For others, where freehold ownership allows and the roof structure is capable, a district heating solution piping the hot water down the outside of the building and into each unit.

Where there isn't a solution, then perhaps locally supplied net-zero hydrogen or direct electric heating, but these would require some long term cost support if the Government are true to their word that the transition will be cost neutral for day-to-day costs.

 

2 hours ago, ProDave said:

So by 2035 any home not economically able to achieve an EPC C becomes a building plot?  Whole estates of them could be demolished and rebuilt?  The 21st Century "slum clearances"?


Are there many homes that the financial cost of upgrading to an EPC C is equal to a significant proportion of the property value? By the Government's calculation the upgrade from the average EPC G to an EPC C will save £700 per year (on average) in heating costs. Since the Government have only promised a cost-neutral transition, I would assume that if a grant has been used to achieve it, that saving will, by some mechanism, be used to contribute to the upgrade, for the next "many" years.

 

1 hour ago, Roys said:

I still have a big question on how the electrical infrastructure will support all the extra load from heat pumps, electric heating and EV car charging

 

I feel that is one of the easier issues to resolve. It's certainly recognised that the electricity production will need to more than double by 2050, so I'd assume there's been a cost associated to it.

 

From the "Powering our Net Zero Future" white paper:

 

image.png.9fe0ece268a8544c0ebb605fbb78bfcc.png

 

1 hour ago, Roys said:

What do we do at night when the wind ain’t blowing and so there is no solar PV and we have mined all the limited supply of Lithium for our batteries. The interconnectors to Europe are working at full tilt and importing leccy possibly  generated by coal anyway.


The plan appears to be sufficient RE (when the wind is blowing and sun is shining) for 100% of required electricity, and a mix of Nuclear, Gas with CCUS and storage for when it's not. When there is a surplus of Nuclear then it will be used for green or blue hydrogen, it's not clear which.

 

40 minutes ago, ProDave said:

A good solution for future proofing houses built right now, would be mandate under floor heating is fitted, not radiators, so even if fitted with a gas boiler now, and upgrade to a heat pump would be a lot easier.


And the Building Regs changes for 2022 almost get there, but I fear the version of a "Low Temp" heating system being dictated isn't quite low temp enough to force UFH, but at least it forces Water Cylinders to be included.

Edited by IanR
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2 hours ago, ProDave said:

Excellent summary of the situation Ian.

 

So by 2035 any home not economically able to achieve an EPC C becomes a building plot?  Whole estates of them could be demolished and rebuilt?  The 21st Century "slum clearances"?

 

It has certainly hardened my view that I would not personally buy a house now worse than EPC C unless it was very cheap with a clear way of upgrading it.

 

 

 

C will be 2030 for English Rental, as that has been in the programme for nearly a decade now. Ed Davey's great achievement imo.

 

C was very carefully chosen when the rules came in, as it is roughly what can be done with a traditionally built old housing stock house practically and cost-effectively. I hit C in renovating 1900-1930s houses with relatively little trouble, and mine all have upgrade routes more or less identified. B could be difficult.

 

It is also roughly the level at which the EPC number starts to become less reliable, so perhaps where better measures would be needed.

 

Estates will get renovated rather than demolished. Remember the flak that John Prescott got back in 2000-2005 when he tried to demolish swathes of Northern England to boost the market. We are no longer have millions of extra unused houses. 

 

@ProDave

One question I have wrt the Owner Occupied energy regulation in Scotland to a C by 2045 (iirc), is how will they enforce it? My take would be add a band to the Council Tax and 1-2% to Stamp Duty to make Energy Efficiency have a footprint in the marketplace.

 

Do you know what the plan is?

 

Cheers


F

 

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Posted (edited)

There is a problem if you rapidly replace homes, cars and consumer goods.

Called 'the carbon burp'.

If you put a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere in a short time, then you get more rapid warming.  And you are still left with most of the CO2 in the atmosphere for a number of decades.

 

Wen it comes to improved housing, it is up to industry to think up ways to make thermal improvements via renovation (which may be major and involve the occupants moving out).

It is another issue if grants and tax reliefs should be available for this, or just charge more for energy in the first place.

My personal experience is that it is not hard, and certainly not expensive, to halve energy usage via better management.

My biggest energy saving 'device, now costs half what it did 20 years ago, and I use it most days.

It is a washing line from Poundland, for a £1.

Edited by SteamyTea
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6 hours ago, SimonD said:

Welcome Des, a very topical subject. Beware that you have now opened a whole can of worms! 😉 Just to start with a couple of questions: are you viewing the climate change issue merely from the perspective of greenhouse gas, CO2 in particular, or also wider environmental impact? And which home in particular is the heat pump most viable?

 

Causes some rather heated debates, and not just on this forum. 😁

 

Good luck with it.

`Heated debates` in more ways than one Simon! I think we have to look at the wider environmental impact, there are so many facets to controlling the damage we are doing to the planet that it certainly needs a very well thought through set of policies to implement the right changes in double quick time that are economically viable. No easy task. 

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5 hours ago, joe90 said:

I concur with @ProDave above, rather than question your intentions re your book I will tell you of our experience,  I have recently installed (myself) an ASHP in my new build. The build is passive esk, I.e. following their principles but no certification. Although a traditional build with brick and block insulation levels are high, airtightness also is fairly high and the small 5KW heat pump is all that is required. I do have to admit we installed a wood burning stove 😱 but this is to burn our own harvested wood and used rarely, we do live in a very rural area and this stuff would have gone on a bonfire if not used in the stove 🤷‍♂️. I decided against PV as FIT was withdrawn before our completion date. I run a diesel car doing less than average miles but believe scrapping it to buy an EV is a waste, but I am sure EV will be my next car.

I would like to use your quote above in the book Joe90 if you are happy with that? 

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4 hours ago, IanR said:

 

I don't personally see a route to the use of hydrogen for domestic heating, in the "net-zero by 2050" time frame, for anything other than a very small percentage of homes for which electric heating won't be achievable.

There isn't a process identified today that can produce net zero hydrogen at anything close to the per kWh cost of either Natural Gas or Electricity. Since the plans to achieve Net-zero by 2050 are taking shape now and legislation is being put in place now, it can't be based on the hope of a scientific break through that opens the door to cheap and plentiful net-zero hydrogen.

 

If and when that break-through does come, then at the point it can be scaled up, maybe it will become a competing option to electric heating. Unfortunately there is no date for when that may happen, but there are significant vested interests in the owners of the natural gas infrastructure that have motivation to talk up the possibility.

 

For new build homes the government needs to make only relatively minor changes to building regulation legislation, for heat pumps to be cost competitive with Natural Gas. It looks like that will be in place for 2025, at which point fossil fuel boilers will be banned for new builds.

 

With the promise from the government that the transition to net-zero domestic heating will be cost neutral in regards day-to-day costs, there will undoubtedly be  grants required to improve the energy losses and ready the heating systems of some houses to facilitate the use of a net-zero heating source.

 

For much of the existing housing stock, that will be achieved in the main by legislation, rather than grants. Minimum EPC C certificates will be required for all social and privately owned  rental homes by 2028, and by 2035 any home sold will be required to be EPC C or better. I assume by then fossil fuel boilers will not be allowed to be sold. I'd imagine some level of grant will be required for the switch over to a low temp heating system ie. to contribute to the costs of water cylinders and larger radiators and their plumbing.

 

This will devalue the homes that are difficult to improve to the required levels and shift them into the ownership of those least able to afford their improvement. I assume that is when the government has to step in with larger grants to improve the fabric as well as the heating system.

 

My personal experience is that I came to installing an ASHP for my space heating and hot water for reasons other than saving the planet. Quite simply there isn't a gas main with a mile of my entrance, so an ASHP with RHI contribution was significantly better value than the Oil or LPG options I had. I was surprised at how generous the RHI grant was, but it has been tightened since.  I shared the common view on this Forum of 4 or 5 years ago, that if Gas was available then it was the cost effective choice.

 

However the mood-music has changed now, or perhaps it's just got louder. My view now is that ASHPs are the right choice for new builds (and significant renovations) even when Gas is available, otherwise within 10-15 years the property will be requiring a significant update or be facing a devaluation.

 

Anyhow, having chosen to go with an ASHP I felt it best to combine it with a low energy loss fabric achieved with U values of 0.10W/m²K to 0.11W/m²K for floor, walls and roof; 0.6W/m²K to 0.8W/m²K for windows and doors and an air tightness targeted at 0.6AH, but to my surprise substantially improved on.

I don't know that my experience can really be carried across to owners of existing houses considering moving to an ASHP, but with a heating system designed for the property's energy losses and hot water requirements, it does exactly what it's supposed to, without any fuss and day-to-day running costs that are slightly below an equivalent Natural Gas system.

Thanks for all the detail Ian, would you be happy for me to use this in the book? 

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5 hours ago, Conor said:

 

Knock 'em all down and start again :) 

 

Would love to see the government contract documents for that.

 

But seriously, we do it all the time in utilities. "Condition Assessments" are standard and there is always a point where an asset is no longer worth upkeeping and it's better to demolish and replace with something new. That's because we're looking at 50yr timeframes. I think somebody needs to take the same look at our hosing stock and make the same calls. I doubt any politician would think that far in to the future - short term votes are all that matter to them.

I did hear a debate on the radio a week or so ago saying that demolishing old houses causes more carbon emissions and waste than can be justified, the only problem is that using the materials within the old house as part of a renovation would be far more time consuming for builders. 

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Just a general point when asking for buildhubbers’ experiences of ASHPs - I think it would be fair to say that those who are part of this forum will by and large be building homes much more suitable to heat pumps as they are much more concerned about build quality/insulation/air tightness. The real problem is new builds by big developers that install heat pumps without the build quality as heat pump performance will suffer. So be sure to try and get real world experiences from those with substandard new builds as well as here.

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22 minutes ago, jfb said:

Just a general point when asking for buildhubbers’ experiences of ASHPs - I think it would be fair to say that those who are part of this forum will by and large be building homes much more suitable to heat pumps as they are much more concerned about build quality/insulation/air tightness. The real problem is new builds by big developers that install heat pumps without the build quality as heat pump performance will suffer. So be sure to try and get real world experiences from those with substandard new builds as well as here.

I am using a wide range of platforms and contacts to get as much feedback from all strata`s of society in all types of situations so hopefully I can get a balanced view overall. This forum has been very useful so I thank you all for that.

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1 hour ago, Des Ingham said:

I would like to use your quote above in the book Joe90 if you are happy with that? 

Your very welcome 👍

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2 hours ago, Des Ingham said:

Thanks for all the detail Ian, would you be happy for me to use this in the book? 

 

I would, but please fact check them. If you wish to challenge any comments made, I'd like the opportunity to understand your argument and elaborate or correct my comments if required. Within this thread would be ideal.

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