Nearly any property, new build or retrofit, can benefit from renewable technology, whether seeking an efficient alternative to an old oil boiler by opting for a heat pump, or adding solar thermal to help with hot water generation.
Whilst the majority of properties can enjoy some type of renewable solution, there are a handful of important considerations to ensure that the system installed is efficient and worth the initial investment.
Nu-Heat, experts in fully integrated renewables, talk through a simple 5-step checklist to help you assess your project for renewables:
- How old is the property and how well is it insulated?
Insulation is extremely important when installing a heat pump as they operate at their most efficient when producing lower flow temperatures – the more insulation, the less heat that is lost.
If your property is a new build (built in the last 10 years), the insulation should be up to current Building Regulations, meaning it ought to be suitable for a heat pump.
Properties undergoing refurbishment are also suitable providing that the insulation levels are being brought up to Part L1B standards. In this scenario, you will need to consider the costs of insulating your property versus the benefit of installing a heat pump and the payback in savings. As a general rule, a heat pump should achieve a Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) of 3 or more to make use of the electricity used to run the unit viable.
Other renewable solutions such as solar thermal and PV are not affected by the level of insulation present, as their purpose does not involve heating the property, instead producing hot water or electricity respectively.
- Does the property have access to mains gas?
Heat pumps are ideally suited to properties without access to main gas as you’re likely to see a greater return on investment when compared to higher cost of oil, LPG and direct electric fossil fuels.
However, a heat pump could still be a renewable solution for a new build property that is on the gas grid, as the high levels of insulation mean that the heat pump will operate very efficiently.
For a renovation project with access to gas, a heat pump is unlikely to be the most cost-effective choice, only producing minimal savings.
- Does the site have plenty of free land?
When it comes to choosing a heat pump, the site plays a big part in the type of unit required.
A GSHP requires free, accessible land that is approximately 3 times the total floor area of the property to accommodate the ground loops. There is also the option of digging boreholes, although this is considerably more expensive.
If space is not available, an ASHP is a good, cost-effective alternative.
- Will the property require planning permission?
It’s important to check if your property requires planning permission before installing an ASHP.
There is varying criteria for different Planning Authorities, so it is best to obtain clarification on planning permission. The main consideration is around the heat pump’s proximity to neighbouring properties and also the noise levels emitted.
The majority of installations will fall under permitted development and one of the checks for this is that the heat pump is sited more than 1 metre from the edge of the property’s boundary (3 metres in Wales).
Solar is also covered by permitted development rights, however you must check with planning if you are in an AONB, a Conservation Area or if the building is listed.
As a GSHP unit is situated inside the property, planning is not required.
- Electricity supply
Most heat pump installations should only require a standard single-phase electricity supply.
For larger properties, usually over 330m², where a heat pump over 12kW will be specified, it is likely that a three-phase supply will be required. You will need to contact your electricity supplier for more information.
Installing systems that perform
By choosing a reputable supplier, you can be confident that you are investing in a renewable system that will perform.
The importance of system design, installation and commissioning support should not be underestimated – they provide the installer and customer with peace of mind that the installation is being handled by experts.
Contact: Tel: 01404 540650 or www.nu-heat.co.uk
Author: Heather Oliver, Product Development Manager