WHY are new houses still being built in this area with gas central heating?

Surely, for the sake of protecting the environment, new well-insulated houses should be built with either ground or air source heat pumps.

Out with friends last week, one told me she could not possibly go for an airsource system because she needed an immediate source of direct heat which she would only get from her radiators and an open fire.

Our reality is a bit different. We have an air source heat system – I really like the warm floors and no radiators and am now completely at home with this way of heating.

We moved three years ago and chose a new-build heated by an air-source pump. We are now both in our eighties and need the house to be hotter than we did 20 or 30 years ago.

We heat the rooms to be 18-20 degrees throughout the day and evening. This we have managed even in the middle of winter and comparing with our mains gas and electricity bills in our previous, not too well insulated, house we find it economical to run.

Our total energy bill in March this year was £49 for the month – less than what we pay for the internet!

In giving that figure I may not be being totally honest because the bill in March a year earlier was £98. How have I reduced it so dramatically? Last August we fitted 16 solar panels on the roof and included a battery. March in both years was quite sunny but this year, with the battery, we were using the sun to give us all our energy needs right up to 10 or 11pm at night on a good number of the spring days.

You need to have the capital to do this but in terms of the climate, if you have the money, then it is a sensible way to go.

In our previous house we sold the excess electricity from the sun back to the grid at a very good, inflation-proof rate. We currently sell our excess electricity at about a quarter of the rate they sell it back to us! No support from the Government there. The battery however allows us to use a good quantity of the electricity we generate.

What will happen to our bills after August, when our current contract with Octopus comes to an end, is anybody’s guess. But one thing is sure, like everybody else, we will be paying considerably more.

So if you are thinking of moving to a new house be very sure to ask about how it is being heated and how easy, or expensive, it will be to convert to an air or ground source heat pump when the time comes, as it will, in 10 or 15 years.

Do not buy a new house without one. If you do, that will be another expense when you need to change.

Geoff Faux
Carleton, Carlisle