Clean air and cosy feet: An air source heat pump pilot scheme

As a housing association, one of Arbour Housing’s key strategic objectives is to provide high-quality homes that meet the long-term needs of our tenants, while delivering on our commitment to net zero. Sustainability and decarbonisation are important elements of that objective.

With that in mind, we undertook a substantial retrofit of two semi-detached bungalows in Fort Street, Banbridge, replacing the old oil-fired central heating systems with outdoor 6kW air source heat pumps connected to an indoor compressor unit and hot water tank. The work was part-funded by the Department for Communities.

The two homes were vacant before the new system and other elements were installed. This allowed for the works, which included laying underfloor heating throughout, to be carried out without inconveniencing sitting tenants.

In addition to the air source heat pumps, both of the properties have benefited from new cavity wall, floor, and roofspace insulation, and have had solar panels installed. In due course, these will provide a renewable source of electricity to power the air pumps.

Both properties are now occupied, with tenants receiving one-to-one training on the system controls and room settings at the start of their tenancies. Five months after he moved in, we caught up with one tenant, George Gallagher, and asked how he found living with the new system.

“The heat pump is quieter and cheaper to run than my previous gas heating system,” he explains. “The air quality has improved too, with less moisture in my new home. I am not even that aware of the system now. I keep it at a steady temperature and do not need to use the hourly boost button. The heat pump itself is very compact and does not take up much room in the back garden.”

So, what is the best part of living with the air source heat pump system?

“It is great having extra space without radiators. I can walk around in my socks with my feet toasty warm in every room,” boasts Gallagher.

The system generates real-time data via room sensors and other monitoring equipment. In addition to collecting this information ourselves, we are sharing it with the Department for the Economy. Collection of the data is done remotely (although the tenant also tracks his own consumption on a weekly spreadsheet), which allows us to diagnose any system faults and, crucially, identify opportunities to improve efficiency and optimise the system for future roll-out.

Stephen Hunter, Compliance and Sustainability Officer
T: 028 38 339 795
E: stephen@arbourhousing.org
W: www.arbourhousing.org

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