'We are using some green non-polluting energy and Greta Thunberg will be pleased. However... we have a log burner chomping its way through a forest and sending smoke up the chimney'
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A man says he is facing a staggering £7,000 energy bill - after replacing his heating system with a £25,000 Government-backed 'green' heat pump. Officials are currently providing grants for up to £5,000 to home owners who remove a gas central heating and hot water system and replace it with a heat pump.
But the new system - backed by many in the green lobby - has apparently left many UK homeowners in the cold. Steve Mason, 58, spent thousands on his brand new system and has says he has seen his bills rocket despite his thermostat being set at a mere 17 degrees.
Based on the same technology as refrigerators, the air pump pulls heat out from outside air and into the house, and can be run on renewably generated electricity - making them carbon neutral. However with the highest electricity prices and the least insulated homes in Europe, early adopters are counting the cost of going green.
Steve, a company director from Harlaxton, Lincs., who started using the system in July said: "The equipment cost £17,000, then there was the installation so add another £10,000 at least.
"We moved back into the house in July when the weather was warm. In the summer months out monthly bills are roughly £280 per month, Spring and Autumn will be about £500 per month and winter months about £850.
"Then a yearly total will be about £6k to £7k. My electric deal ends in March, so my tariff will increase. We could therefore be paying, well I don't really want to think about it.
''Only the stupendously wealthy who can afford the figure in my head and joint incomes of me and my wife are nowhere near."
When asked about the positive aspects of investing in the air pump, Steve added: "I could say we are using some green non-polluting energy and Greta Thunberg will be pleased. However, as we have set the room temperatures to 17 degrees to save money and it's minus three outside, we have a log burner chomping its way through a forest and sending smoke up the chimney - the irony should not be lost here."
Steve predicts that his electricity bill for this month alone could reach £1,000 and his annual bill would be roughly double the price of his previous set-up. He received £5,000 from the Government as a grant for the pump, but still cannot see the economic viability of the switch.
He says two other families in his village who also have a heat pump are facing similar issues - one of which is having to use two log burning stoves alongside their pump during the cold days.
"We thought that since the government are championing Air Source Heat Pumps as one of the 'green' ways forward then this is the avenue we would go down.
"But my wife and I are struggling to see how the installation and running costs of the system makes economic and functional sense."
However, Architect and TV presenter George Clarke has said that an air source heat pump is 'one of the best things' he has ever bought for his own home. But the presenter of shows such as George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and Old House New Home makes no claims they’re an affordable option - and warns that homes need to be well-insulated for the heat pumps, which are powered by electricity, to work well.
“One of the best things I’ve ever put in is an air source heat pump,” said George. “So, I’ve got rid of my gas boiler – I’m not gas-dependent at all.
“These heat pumps aren’t cheap, so you can’t say they’re affordable. If you want to replace a gas boiler it’s going to cost you a couple of grand, but when you put an air source heat pump in, you’re changing a lot of the system, and the average cost is £6,000-£8,000, depending on the size of your house.”
“I know I’ve got clean, green technology providing all the heating and hot water for my house.
“My bills are definitely down, it’s amazing – they’re 30-40% less than they’d normally be. That’s a decent saving every year, but you’ve got to buy the kit. People are struggling to pay for expensive food and travel costs, so it might be a big ask.
“If you’ve had a standard gas boiler in your house for 12-15 years, it’s probably very inefficient and needs to be taken out and upgraded,” he says. “But I would suggest, if anyone can afford it, do not replace your gas boiler with another gas boiler, and if you can, put in an air source heat pump. Really take a long-term view on it.”
“Obviously, it’s all about saving energy and reducing bills at the moment, and part of that is being sustainable for the planet. But there’s also something that people don’t talk about enough, and that’s being comfortable and warm and protected in your house. That feels great.”
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