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Reader's tip of the month - April 2014

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 April 2014 at 9:09 am

This month's tip comes from Lehigh51 who has installed solar PV, solar thermal, a ground source heat pump and rainwater harvesting.

"Truly everything has worked as well as I could hope and I am very pleased. My expenditure is within acceptable parameters. My electricity bill is more than before naturally. However, I no longer have to buy heating oil which ran an inefficient combination boiler from which we had slow flowing and limited amounts of domestic hot water (DHW).

"Now we have copious amounts of DHW from our 500 litre solar cylinder and UFH that has us running around in our underwear. Taking into account all the circulating pumps I have installed including the 2.5 HP rain-harvesting pump I have no complaints. In any case my FIT payments for the PV adequately cover the electricity costs.

"The 50,000litre rain-harvesting tank is brilliant. I built it myself and I get ground water seeping into it and it is full all the time but it isn't a problem. Surplus water overflows to a ditch and away to a dyke. Water is pumped up to tanks in my loft which then supplies our WCs and washing machine. Our water bill is less now than it used to be which is very pleasing.

"I definitely recommend the technologies but finding installers who one can put one's trust in is something else. There is nothing one can do to ensure a successful outcome. The Government insists that only MCS registered installers can competently install the products but I submit that that is no guarantee. Suppliers of ground source heat pumps (GSHP) do not appear to have the expertise to solve problems that can arise, except for Kensa and Calorex who manufacture in the UK (I do not have either of these but in hindsight should have).

"Insulation in every orifice is key to success with GSHPs and I have enveloped my house. Under the floors, inside and exterior walls lined, 350mm thick in the loft tucked into the eaves in an effort to make it airtight and it was very worthwhile doing. Of course you then need a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system to expel foul air.

"One exception [to Lehigh51's satisfaction] is an intermittent and annoying problem with my GSHP. I cannot get any help from the Italian manufacturer or their UK distributor both of whom appear perplexed by my problem. The distributor quoted me £720 to call but said that they cannot guarantee to resolve the issue which I found unacceptable. 

"I emphasise that these are my observations and opinions derived from my experiences"

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