We are changing our heating at home to add a second ASHP and water heating boiler to replace existing electric fueled heating/hot water systems. We were issued a £5k voucher for this by OFGEM earlier in the year, but subsequently they suspended the voucher, pending answers to a lot more questions about our install. I found out today that they are rescinding the voucher.
There are lots of details here that I have mentioned yet, of course, but I note that the decision is open for Appeal.
I was wondering if anyone had any experience of this process?
I believe the requirements for installing a heat pump are very strict including having suitable specified radiators, pipework, wall cavities and insulation. A “non standard” (I,E expensive) installation appears to be more common especially if your house is not a modern build.
In my case, they are revoking it because I already have a heat pump at the property. We had it installed 4 years ago to run a few radiators and a large area of underfloor heating. The rest of the house and the house hot water is still on the old system (electric storage heaters and electric tank heater).
The new heat pump is to convert the rest of the house (and on a completely separate system to the existing heat pump), but OFGEM seem to be interpreting the regulations such that a grant can only be awarded if new heat pump is for the whole property and replaces all of the existing heating system in the whole property. From my reading of the regulations, it seems that such an interpretation is not necessary (but I’m not an expert).
There is an appeal process, but I am not sure I want to put myself through the emotional investment (with no clue as to the likelihood of success). It’s been dragging on for months already and other work in the house has now been stopped pending the outcome of this issue.
The website spells out the conditions so I would make sure you check the conditions carefully. I doubt there is any discretion. Your EPC must be showing no need for more insulation. I expect it’s to do with the fact you already have one heat pump.
It’s just typical isn’t it, the houses that probably require the most work to make them more energy efficient might be excluded because they can’t reach the higher heights of energy efficiency due to age/construction.
It’s almost as though they are trying to devalue older properties on purpose to make them less desirable to purchase while doing little to help existing owners deal with energy costs which were never even a major consideration 20-30 years ago.
One of the many issues is that without being very effectively insulated (which is very expensive/challenging in older houses (say pre-1970s), as you remark), then ASHP’s won’t be effective cum work in practicable terms.
Whenever I’ve read about these installations in older houses, the overall spend has been >£30k, with obvious care on how the building construction & insulation have to be married together.
I’m intrigued how @BobbyYork was awarded the voucher without all the salient qualifying details being known – seems someone put the cart before the horse?
Or is the voucher just a bit of meaningless paper?
I have no idea of the ‘ins and outs’ of the scheme though could it be as simple as only allowing a single subsidised installation per property, though I do feel rescinding a voucher already issued seems unfair as the OP might already have commissioned the work on the basis of securing a subsidy.
I must admit that over the last 2-3 years I’ve started feeling quite apprehensive about the future - currently still working, but all the impracticalities for me of eco plans are worrying with retirement looming.
From what I’ve read my mains electricity supply is too low a rating to work for charging EVs even assuming it was practical to do so in a Victorian terraced property with no front drive, frequently unable to park outside my house and limited rear access. ASHPs will likely be inadequate to heat the property - surely I cannot be alone, and assume there must be hybrid options of some kind but having removed some additional radiators which were taking up wall space a few years ago I probably did the wrong thing and accommodating extra/larger radiators will require ripping up recently laid flooring upstairs and downstairs, assuming that is the pipework is still in situ and wasn’t ‘reclaimed’. Yes there may be some untidy options for adding extra radiators without lifting flooring but hardly ideal.
I’m all for eco measures where practical but I think the policymakers assume everyone lives in modern builds with optimal insulation and to hell with everyone else who should be persuaded to move as though it’s that simple an option.
TBH, I wouldn’t worry as you’re going to be in the majority who cannot viably install ASHPs.
To my eyes, it’s all fantasy stuff. The tech is immature, the benefits aren’t costed to current environment, we don’t have Grid capacity for these things at the moment (as well as the cars!) and then we get to the impracticalities around domestic installations.
That’s interesting, as I was wondering about the proportion of ‘good to go’ to impractical properties, and I’d imagine most UK properties are older and ASHPs just won’t work well enough.
That’s the worrying thing to me - the policymakers are just spouting the eco mantras as though they will be adopted by all when it clearly won’t work. Ensuring such things are feasible for all new builds by regulating construction methods seems fair (but at what cost?) but the disconnect between this and assuming we can all adopt these measures is vast.
The below is a precis from a Torygraph article a few months ago which cited ONS data on UK housing -
20.6% was built before 1919
15% between 1919 and 1944
19.2% between 1945 and 1964,
20% between 1965 and 1980,
8% between 1981 and 1990
17.3 % post 1990.
‘= roughly 35 per cent of our homes in the ‘difficult to heat pump’ bracket.’
IME, anything built in to the 1970s is likely to have insulation challenges vis cavity walls & breathability et al, which makes the ‘difficult to insulate’ (safely) % rise to perhaps 50% (more)? My late-60’s build uses an under-roof profile (i.e. only 4’’ of space) as the ceiling in 2 rooms. The most you can insert is 3’’ of foam board – the normal guidance being to maintain a breathing gap of 2’'.
It’s fascinating really, many of us may have bought into older properties for character/features/larger rooms/high ceilings and so forth but what was attractive when we purchased almost 25 years ago (really should have moved in the interim), is almost an albatross around our necks when it comes to basic costs of living. Hence my comment about such properties potentially reducing in value due to their less eco-friendly credentials.
Our house was completed in 2017, our sons was completed in 2021 their energy efficiency is better than our 1918 semi we had before, however neither new property has ASHP nor solar panels or exceptional insulation (the sons is better).
To my mind we should look at supporting when old technolgy fails beyond repair for older properties, but more importantly any new build should be built with the latest efficency and energy devices built in. Thousands are being built with nothing exceptional being built in.
Similarly with cars, we’re getting wound up about 2030 but petrol and diesel cars will still be around for a long time after. As was mentioned before not everyone can have a charging point next to their house, including on new developments, let alone flats. Having said that we are gradually being priced out of cars when a cheap electric one is £30k.
We were issued the £5k “voucher” on 22 August and instructed the company to proceed. Ofgem then raised further questions with us, so we put the installation on hold. The revocation is dated 25 October.
In our case, we do not have gas or oil, the entire property is electricity only (3 phase, in our case - made our options in solar/batteries/car charging a little broader). So, while ASHP might not be the best answer for all properties, it seems the best solution in our situation.
Just very frustrating. The parts of the regulations they refer to do not, to my reading, require the “entire property” or the “entire heating system”. It is not clear that this is the spirit of the legislation either, although there is one part that suggests that the heat pump must be “capable of” supplying all of the heating and hot water requirements of the property. Note, “capable of”, not “arranged to”, but maybe that’s a technicality.
Anyway, I think I just have to take this on the chin. They have been a complete nightmare to deal with and if I proceed with an appeal, there is no indication that it will be successful, but it will definitely lead to another 3+ months delay.
I recall reading a few months back that the challenges of fitting heat pumps are not confined to old houses but also manifest in newer builds.
Whilst these newer houses have sufficient insulation for a heat pump system their existing gas fuelled heating systems often have microbore piping buried within the fabric of the building’s internal walls. This requires significant intrusion to either replace this piping or alternatively to surface mount new larger bore piping on internal walls. New larger radiators are required and the space must also be found for a hot water tank, often in houses which are built to minimum floorspace standards.
One wonders how many new houses are still being built to this standard.
Great data. The proportion of ASHP incompatible houses may be even higher than this.
Our house was built in 1999 and has microbore copper piping for the radiators. Apparently microbore was “standard” for about 10 years in the 1990s & early 2000s. The microbore pipes are too small to carry the flow rate needed by heat pump systems, so our house was deemed unsuitable for an ASHP.
I have an ASHP and micro bore pipes to the radiators. All the radiators were upsized. It takes longer to warm up at 35C radiator temperature.
A good microbore system has 22mm pipe work feeding manifolds close to the radiators. The 8 or 10mm microbore runs over short distances coupled with the 22mm should be sufficient if the heating engineer does the design work and fits the right pump.
We had one new radiator on 15mm pipe and to be honest it doesn’t get hotter than those on the microbore. I use thermometers with magnetic bases to get reliable readings.
Installers will always peddle myths to charge more! I’m not saying that there aren’t homes that require new pipe work.
The hot water cylinder does not need to be big to drive a shower. My son has a 4 bed 2017 town house with a massive Baxi boiler in an upstairs cupboard. It does underfloor to the d/s and radiators elsewhere. They have a cylinder somewhere. Their utility bill rose to £120/month in October. There is no case at present for them to change to ASHP.