Integrating Sustainable Energy Solutions Into Your Home

Integrating Sustainable Energy Solutions Into Your Home

Thousands of homeowners across the UK are keen to find better ways to manage their energy demands, with a growing interest in sustainable construction, energy efficiency, heating retention and low-carbon technology.

With an increasing range of sustainable energy solutions and advanced ways to replace outdated glazing, insulation, and energy storage with eco-friendly alternatives, there are numerous potential switches you might make, whether you’d like to make a complete transition to renewable energy or find a few simple, affordable ways to be a bit greener.

Pinnacle Works offers a complete range of options based on your property, budget, and current energy usage, and we’ve outlined some of the popular services and energy production systems below to give you an idea of what’s possible.

Factors That Will Influence Your Choice of Sustainable Energy Solutions

The first area to clarify is that, since we’re talking about homes rather than commercial or industrial premises, some types of renewable energy aren’t practical. The norm is to find that:

  • Wind turbines, even smaller roof-mounted models, are only worth using in areas with continual high winds, such as those in coastal or island settings. Turbines of this size are not widely available, and the cost of installation may be prohibitive.
  • Geothermal energy systems, like ground source heat pumps, capture ambient heat from within the earth. Like turbines, this energy production system is only suitable in specific locations with a high geothermal gradient.

Most homeowners consider more accessible options like air source heat pumps and solar panels. However, you don’t necessarily have to make a drastic change to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels and the national grid.

We begin by inspecting your property before making any suggestions. The right systems will always depend on the internal and external space available, local weather and wind conditions, your budget, the aspect of your roof, and the amount of energy you and your family use.

It’s essential to run through an assessment because even if you’ve decided to opt for a set of solar panels, the size of the cells, the type of energy storage battery, the optimal installation location and number of grids you need will differ significantly for a large property with multiple inhabitants and a smaller one or two bedroom home – as will the cost.

Air Source Heat Pumps for Residential Properties

Heat pumps are great options for homeowners keen to move away from conventional gas central heating systems. For most properties, an air-source heat pump is a preferable option. Although that might depend on your specific property, a ground-source heat pump is a much larger unit and requires a pretty substantial amount of outdoor space.

During the installation process, engineers need to lay a series of loops under the ground, which increases the cost of the unit and the work. In contrast, an air-source heat pump is suitable for almost any property with various pump sizes to suit your requirements.

Air source heat pumps absorb the ambient heat within the air around the exterior of your home – and that doesn’t mean they only work during the summer.

Instead, these sophisticated pumps operate similarly to a refrigerator in reverse, using a liquid within the pump that converts ambient air into a gas. That gas is compressed and generates the warmth you use to heat your water and home.

The benefits include reduced heating costs, greater energy independence, a lower carbon footprint, and a highly efficient, modern heating system that generates minimal noise and can be fitted anywhere with sufficient airflow.

Using Solar Power in Your Home

Our next option is to consider a set of solar panels that use photovoltaic conversion, or PV, to capture, store, and convert clean, free energy from the sun. Each solar panel comprises a series of solar cells, which generate an electric current that can feed energy to your home, a solar storage battery, or back into the national grid.

Like all sustainable energy solutions, there are numerous types, sizes, and costs of solar panels, so it’s important to assess the panels you will need. Most solar cells last up to 30 years, but you may need to have repairs completed on your roof, and solar panels work best installed on south-facing roofs with minimal shade.

We suggest fitting a solar battery alongside the solar cells. While that does carry an additional cost, the benefit is that all the solar energy captured by your panels remains available on demand rather than being wasted.

You can also choose to sell surplus renewable energy back to the national grid, which attracts a fixed-rate payment and can further reduce your home’s running costs.

Energy-Efficient Boilers

If you have an old, inefficient boiler and don’t have the budget or time to consider fitting an air source heat pump or set of solar panels, upgrading your boiler to a higher-rate, low-carbon alternative is also a great move towards sustainability.

Once boilers reach about ten or 15 years of usage, their efficiency declines quite steeply. This means you use more fossil fuel to maintain the same temperatures and usually have greater energy loss.

The best option is an A-rated boiler that offers the best possible energy efficiency, ensuring you use less fuel, whether gas or oil.

It’s also a great idea to chat with our team about any other improvements that might minimise your fuel needs, such as added insulation, upgraded flooring, more efficient radiators or improved glazing – all of which reduce utility costs and can help you achieve a higher energy performance rating if you’re thinking of selling.

Charging a Hybrid or EV Vehicle at Home

Finally, you might already drive a hybrid or electric vehicle (EV), and if you have somewhere around your property where you can fit an EV charger, you’ll make another move towards less energy usage.

Electric motors convert around 77% of electricity into movement, compared to about 30% for conventional fuelled vehicles. That means, even though you need electricity to charge the motor, you’re lowering your emissions, contributing to cleaner air, and optimising the power you use.

Installing an EV charger is relatively low-cost and quick, and some energy companies offer special reduced-rate tariffs or provide low electricity charges for overnight usage, which can help with fuel bills.

All of the suggestions here can help you save money, improve the warmth and efficiency of your home, reduce your carbon footprint, and ultimately achieve your aim of becoming more eco-friendly. If you’d like to learn more about installing solar panels or a heat pump, comparing more efficient boilers, or modifying your property, please contact the Pinnacle Works team anytime.

Benefits of Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps

Benefits of Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps

There’s no escaping soaring energy prices, increasing living costs, and the fact that our properties are becoming ever-more expensive to heat, cool and run. Ground and air source heat pumps have been around for a decade, and are coming into their own as alternative heating devices with excellent benefits for the environment, and your bank balance.

Pinnacle Works is passionate about renewable energy and has extensive experience installing high-performance pumps that are fast, reliable, and economical.

What are Air and Ground Source Heat Pumps?

Many homeowners are unfamiliar with these eco-friendly heating appliances, but the concept is simple:

  • Pumps absorb environmental heat, converting it into a liquid.
  • The fluid is then compressed to a higher temperature.
  • That heat is used for central heating and to produce hot water.

The core difference between the two heat pumps is where the heat originates. As the names suggest, air pumps absorb heat from the air, whereas ground heat pumps rely on thermal heat in the ground. We’re often asked how this works, particularly given that we don’t enjoy the warmest climates in the UK! Even when it feels cold, quality heat pumps can still extract heat, and remain operational at sub-zero temperatures, with the ideal tolerance being 25 °C to -5 °C.

Without getting into the technicalities, a ground source heat pump utilises a network of underground pipes (called a loop) with the pump at ground level. Air source heat pumps absorb warmth from outside air using a liquid refrigerant. The compression and condensation process releases stored heat to warm your home and water.

Air Source Heat Pumps

Although the technology behind heat pumps is advanced, the installation is relatively straightforward.

Fitting an air heat pump is quite quick provided you work with a qualified installer, and the pumping and controls are similar to those used on your existing boiler. Ground source heat pumps are a little more involved because we lay a network of piping underground, which requires a certain amount of space.

If you’re interested in comparing these low-cost heating solutions, we can arrange a survey to offer advice about the suitability of each option.

We can install a heat pump in almost any home, but the right choice for you will depend on a few variables:

  • Insulation is key, and the pump must be correctly insulated to ensure it operates efficiently and doesn’t experience heat loss.
  • Most clients who opt for a ground source pump are either not reliant on the mains gas network or have a wider outdoor space.
  • Pumps can be fitted in properties of all ages, but renovated homes and new-builds can present higher energy efficiency ratings, making them ideal for an eco-friendly heat pump.

Average costs sit at around £7,000 – £13,000 for an air source heat pump, and between £14,000 and £19,000 for a ground source pump, with the cost differential owing to the external groundworks.

The investment balances out because a ground pump is a more efficient renewable energy source and produces greater cost savings and lower utility bills. It’s also worth noting that the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) provided higher financial incentives for ground source heat pumps. However, the current application round has closed and been replaced with a new scheme, which we’ll explain shortly.

The Benefits of Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps

The biggest advantage of a renewable heat pump over a conventional boiler is that it will undoubtedly reduce your household costs. A heat pump is significantly cheaper to run than any electrical heating system oil boiler and most gas boilers. Either type of pump is fully automated, so they have an advantage over biomass boilers, requiring much less work.

Other benefits of replacing an older boiler with a heat pump include:

  • Superior energy efficiency, with performance ratings of 200% to 400% higher than a standard heating system.
  • A substantially lower carbon footprint, with no emissions other than those at the point of electricity production – the compressors use very little electricity and non-harmful refrigerants that don’t impact the environment.
  • Condensation prevention, with automatic dehumidifying properties.
  • Improved air quality – the heat pump doesn’t burn anything to produce the warmth, so no fumes or smoke filter into the air.

Heat pumps are ideal for families with allergies, as the circulation process purifies the air and removes spores, odours, smoke, particles, and dust.

How Much Money a Heat Pump Could Save You

Much depends on your energy consumption and property, but you could stand to save:

  • Over £1,000 a year compared to electric heating systems.
  • Up to £570 a year if you use an LPG heating system.
  • Around £30 a year against oil or gas boilers.

Of course, with the energy price cap increasing this month by 54%, those statistics may soon multiply.

Government Heat Pump Grants

We mentioned the incentive scheme earlier, which closed on 31st March 2022 – but has been replaced with a more straightforward initiative.

This programme offers a £5,000 grant, or £6,000 towards the cost of a ground source heat pump, and covers any part of the supply or installation cost. The government won’t be accepting direct applications, but Pinnacle Works can apply to Ofgem (the energy regulator) on your behalf, securing a voucher confirming the grant value.

Due to launch this month, these grants are part of a £3.9 billion programme to encourage all households to switch to a low-carbon alternative by 2035.

Exterior Ground Source Heat Pump Case Study

If you’re looking at replacing an old boiler or inefficient heating system, an air or ground source heat pump is an outstanding option, providing long-term, low-carbon and cost-effective heating.

One of our recent commissions involved the installation of an exceptional ground source heat pump housed in a pump house with bespoke fitted oak doors. This example shows the aesthetic achievable, with internal ply lining and professional quality insulation to provide the ultimate energy-saving solution, with maximised pump efficiency. With subtle touches, such as bat boxes in the rafters to encourage local animals to relocate to the pump house, you can see the finished project via our social media HERE.

For more information about whether a renewable heat pump would be right for your property or to enquire about the best option and apply for a government grant, please contact Pinnacle Works at your convenience. Our skilled teams work closely with every client to ensure your finished pump meets every expectation, creating future-proof eco-homes that are as cost-effective as possible.