THE BLOG

Saving Money by Turning Air Into Heat - a Modern-day Miracle

11/02/2014 12:58 GMT | Updated 12/04/2014 10:59 BST

The average UK household spends £1,315 a year on energy costs and faces an annual gas bill hike of 90 percent. With the rate of inflation at its lowest since 2009, it's no wonder we're becoming increasingly disgruntled at these rises. There is of course another way, and for those considering making the leap toward renewable energy, help is at hand.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is the world's first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat. It enables anyone, you or me, to apply to the Government for money to replace our current heating system with more renewable technologies. Specifically solar thermal panels, biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps and, starting from April, air source heat pumps.

Air source heat pumps are both easy to install and simple to run alongside other renewable technologies. But perhaps, most impressively of all, they turn fresh air into heat by passing it over refrigerant-filled coils, like the ones we have in our refrigerators. The captured heat is then automatically transferred to water, which is ready for use in our heating system and for supplying hot water. By turning air into heat, they have the potential to save us money.

The UK's four million off-grid homes, in particular, stand to make substantial gains. Research shows air source heat pumps can reduce annual energy bills by up to 78 percent compared to oil and bottled gas. But it's not just those who live off-grid who can benefit. When combined with better glazing and thorough insulation, air source heat pumps have the potential to reduce energy bills for any household over the long term.

And, thanks to the RHI, making the shift to renewable and sustainable energy is now cheaper than ever. For air source heat pumps the Government promises pay out 7.3p per kWh, with the total amount payable dependent on the size, condition and heating requirement of your house. This money is paid quarterly over a seven-year period and reflects the expected cost of renewable heat generation of your home over 20 years. Not bad at all.

One word of warning though, if you are considering applying for a payback, my advice would be to do it so sooner rather than later. The Government plans to review the scheme quarterly and will reduce the incentive as necessary based on the number of people wanting to join. This is one example where it really will pay to be in there from the beginning.