Northern housing associations have shown their support of National Energy Action’s (NEA) ‘Warm Homes Campaign’ and their ‘Nation’s Biggest Housewarming’ (Friday 26th February) – coinciding with ‘Fuel Poverty Awareness Day’ – by attending an event at Haydock Park Racecourse organised by Warmer Energy Services.

The event called upon practical experiences to demonstrate how social housing providers can tackle fuel poverty and achieve carbon compliance in rural retrofit and new build homes with ground source heat pumps.

The event on Wednesday 24th February, which featured presentations from ground source heat pump manufacturer Kensa Heat Pumps, the National Housing Federation (NHF), Trent & Dove Housing Association and Shropshire Rural Housing, demonstrated how ground source heat pumps are addressing fuel poverty and excess winter deaths by saving tenants up to 50% on heating bills.

The speakers relied on first hand experiences of projects featuring ground source heating technology; in particular Trent & Dove Housing and Shropshire Rural Housing who imparted advice on their recent schemes.

Steve GrocockSteve Grocock, Property Services Director at Trent & Dove Housing, enthused how ground source heat pumps have proved vital in improving the efficiency of his housing stock and ensuring tenant well-being.

He said:

The number of people in the UK who pass away each year as a result of not being able to properly heat their homes is shocking. We can combat this problem by providing tenants with more affordable and efficient heating systems like ground source heat pumps. I would strongly urge other housing associations to consider this as an effective way of providing affordable warmth to their most vulnerable tenants.”

In 2015, Trent & Dove invested a total of £1.8m to have ground source heat pumps installed in over 200 of our bungalows and apartments. The systems have been a great success, saving tenants between £350 and £500 a year, effectively cutting their fuel bills in half and vastly improving their well-being. We received £2.3m of RHI and ECO funding which covered our initial outlay and generated additional income for the organisation that can be reinvested into further improving the stock.”

Ian Richardson, SRHA_cropIan Richardson, CEO at Shropshire Rural Housing Association, addressed delegates about why they decided to install ground source heat pumps into a recent rural new-build development following the success of a retrofit project that also utilised the technology.

He said:

Shropshire Rural has proven experience that ground source heat pumps work effectively for our tenants. The systems have improved the comfort, control and affordability of their heating systems in both the retrofit and new build developments where they were installed. In addition, the pumps have low lifetime ownership costs with minimal maintenance requirements and long life expectancy. When coupled with the income from the Renewable Heat Incentive, this technology is certainly a viable and effective way of combating fuel poverty in our housing stock.”

Lord Matthew Taylor, recent chairman of the National Housing Federation (NHF) and chairman of Kensa Heat Pumps, advocated the key role that renewable heating technology like ground source heat pumps has to play in eradicating fuel poverty.

Also presenting was Chloe McLaren Webb from the National Housing Federation, who confirmed the availability of extra funding to extend the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) until 2021; a Government scheme which is designed to support the uptake of renewable heating technology.
Kensa Heat Pumps presented an innovative ‘micro ground source heat network’ solution to overcome financial and procurement barriers to implementing ground source technology, which allows ‘independent, affordable and controllable heating’ to the tenants, and access to the Non Domestic strand of the RHI for both new build and existing housing stock, unlocking a 20 year revenue stream for the landlord.

One delegate remarked:

Very interesting. I am looking at reducing fuel poverty in our rural community. GSHP does look like a viable option – food for thought.”

Another delegate asserted:

Good tech. We are definitely looking to introduce this into properties to assist vulnerable families.”