Good News for East Devon Homes As Centrica Partners with Council To Install Heat Pumps

One of the greatest challenges that the UK faces in meeting its net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050 is the decarbonisation of heat.

Last year, British Gas owner Centrica called for a national heat pump installation drive over the next decade suggesting that the UK should be aiming to install one million heat pumps by 2025. Centrica believes that we may be more than a decade away from hydrogen domestic heating being viable.

Following on from this, one of the projects Centrica is undertaking in 2021 involves an ambitious heat pump installation scheme. The energy firm is working with East Devon District Council to install heat pumps and other low carbon technology at 78 homes in East Devon by the end of March. Houses & bungalows located in Lyme Regis, Exeter and Axminster will have their solid fuel heating and immersion systems replaced with low carbon alternatives, the plan being to reduce energy bills for residents and bring about a significant reduction in carbon emissions. The scheme is being delivered as part of the Green Homes Grant scheme with additional investment from East Devon District Council.

Each home will be provided with an air-source heat pump to include all necessary components, solar panels, new radiators, upgraded insulation and a new intelligent heating control system. The heat pump being used is the Vaillant aroTHERM air-source heat pump while Mixergy, a firm that Centrica has invested in and partnered with is providing an unvented heat pump cylinder with built-in solar PV modulating diverter. Stelrad is supplying individually sized low water volume radiators complete with thermostatic valves.

The objective of the scheme is to bring the ECP rating E or below up to a minimum of a C, although it is expected that most properties will achieve ECP B or above.

An application for the second phase of the project has already been submitted which if successful could see sustainable heating technology extended to a further 75 properties in the area.

Sophie Davies, housing business and customer improvement manager at East Devon District Council, said:

“This scheme has real potential to change tenants’ lives for the better, by making their home heating systems more effective and more affordable, while reducing global warming and improving air quality. Collaboration has been at the heart of the project, which can now be used as a best practice example in the low carbon economy, showing others what can be achieved and encouraging them to follow suit. We’re proud to be investing in our tenants, and to be investing in a green future for East Devon.”

P H Jones, Centrica’s specialist social housing division are overseeing Project planning, delivery, and compliance with the support of engineers, electricians, and managers from British Gas.

Ian Mather, business development manager at P H Jones, said:

“Now that the first units are in, early indicators and tenant feedback suggest that the project will over-deliver against the targets we’ve set, in terms of its environmental benefits, and by making residents’ homes warmer and more comfortable, for less. We’re committed to being at the forefront of the UK’s transition to low carbon heating, drawing on the expertise within our organisation to make a meaningful difference to local communities in everyday life, and in the context of our national net zero goals.”

It is encouraging to see this scheme getting underway in East Devon as the Green Homes Grant has been beset with problems and delays. The idea behind the grant was to target green home improvements, issuing vouchers for technology such as heat pumps as well as solar thermal and insulation. However, the Environmental Audit Committee has warned that at the current rate it will take 10 years to meet the government’s target, with only 20,000 vouchers issued so far out of a total of 600,000 on offer.

Further to this it has recently been announced that any unspent funding of the £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme would not be rolled over into 2021/22.