Residents of the newly built Potteries Court Extra Care Housing Scheme in Swinton, near Rotherham, are already reaping the benefits of air-source heat pumps from Danfoss Heat Pumps, formerly ECO Heat Pumps.

The ground floor of the Resource Centre for the 11 bungalows and 24 apartments built by Chevin Housing Association has been fitted with an under-floor heating system, operated by two 10Kw air source heat pumps. This modern communal area is widely used by the elderly residents who live in the Potteries Court development as it houses a restaurant, lounge, meeting room, kitchen and washroom facilities.

The housing association was very keen to meet the Ecohomes standard and knew that heat pumps would increase its sustainability rating as well as reducing the carbon footprint of the development. As a result, Chevin Housing Association achieved a commendable ‘Very Good’ rating.

Heat pumps are becoming hugely popular for both new builds and refurbishments as they greatly reduce energy bills, compared with more traditional forms of heating. As a completely renewable energy source, they benefit from running costs that are typically 75 per cent lower than conventional systems. This means they normally pay for themselves in five to seven years. Grants are also available for charities or public bodies through the low carbon buildings programme (LCBP).

Air source heat pumps are rapidly increasing in popularity as they require no ground works. Potteries Court also makes use of rainwater harvesting techniques. The system collects surface water from the building’s roof and recycles it in order water the communal landscaped areas. Like the heat pumps, this also contributed to Eco-Homes rating points on this development.

Chris Boucher, Project Manager of Synergy Housing Solutions, part of the Chevin Housing Group, explains: “We were really keen to use renewable energy sources for the communal areas as all residents pay an annual service charge and fitting heat pumps helps to keep energy costs down. Not only that, but from our point of view as a housing association, they are a fantastic way of helping ensure that new developments achieves both our and the government’s regulations on sustainable housing.”

Air source heat pumps work by extracting low-grade heat from the outside air, similar to a refrigerator. However, where a fridge in the home expels heat from the inside to keep it cool, a heat pump will use it to provide heat for the home. The air handling unit draws air across the water-anti freeze solution and transfers this energy into the refrigerant. The refrigerant boils and the gases from this are compressed to produce temperatures in excess of 100°C. This energy is then used to heat the hot water, which is then circulated throughout the home.

Heat pumps are the most efficient method of heating a home because every 1kWh of electricity used to drive the heat pump generates around 4kWh of heat energy. This compares to the most efficient condensing boilers that generated 0.9kWh of heat for every 1kWh of electricity. This gives heat pumps a coefficient of performance of around 400 per cent compared to 75-90 per cent for traditional heating systems

Phil Moore, Director at Danfoss Heat Pumps, said, “Air source heat pumps are perfect for environments lived in by older people. With so many people facing fuel poverty and energy bills rising dramatically, renewable systems such as heat pumps are much in demand by housing associations. The way that heat pumps work means that the heating can be left on throughout the day, at an affordable cost, which is perfect for those who are less mobile and who feel the cold. Residents here can be proud that they are doing their bit for the environment, whilst controlling their costs.”

Potteries Court is one of a number of Extra Care Housing Schemes throughout the country. These unique developments allow elderly tenants to rent, own or part own their own house, whilst benefiting from 24 hour care and support from a dedicated team of care professionals. The purpose is to promote self-care for longer and promote independent living.

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