Housebuilder Bellway has installed the UK’s first roof-mounted air source heat pump as part of its efforts to develop low-carbon technology for future homes.
The heat pump will be tested at the firm’s experimental eco house, The Future Home, based at The University of Salford.
Air source heat pumps are expected to replace natural gas boilers in most homes when they are phased out from 2025.
They are already installed in many new homes, but are usually fitted to, or next to, an exterior wall which can dominate the external appearance and take up valuable outdoor space.
The Future Home is being built by Bellway inside a climate-controlled chamber at the university as part of its £16m Energy House 2.0 research project, which is being part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The home will test low-carbon technologies and their impact on the cost of living.
Bellway has engineered the house to support the 200kg air source heat pump within the roof space. A second unit will be fitted to an external wall to enable comparisons to be drawn.
Jamie Bursnell, group technical and innovations manager for Bellway, said: “Installing an air source heat pump within a loft space is a bold move – one that no UK developer or retrofit project has previously attempted.
“During the research period we will have people living within the home to test the performance of the heat pump during real life use. If the unit in the loft performs well, it could create a new way for homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint without compromising on space or aesthetics.”
The Future Home will also test underfloor and infrared heating, as well as a host of low-carbon innovations.
These include mechanical ventilation, double versus triple glazing, battery storage for solar energy and a shower which transfers heat from wastewater to warm the incoming mains supply mains. This reduces the energy demand from the shower.
The Future Home
Prof Will Swan, director of Energy House Labs at the University of Salford, said: “The growing challenges of climate change and the cost-of-living crisis mean we need to consider how we build and operate our homes. Energy House Labs’ mission is to work with industry and policy makers to provide evidence for what works in meeting these challenges.
“Energy-efficient, high performing homes can change people’s lives. The importance of this agenda is one of the main reasons behind the University of Salford’s major investment in Energy House 2.0, which is a critical piece of research infrastructure that can help us find solutions to these problems.”
- University of Galway pilots geothermal heat pump
- Government allocates £15m for heat pump innovations
- ABB selected for world’s largest seawater heat pump
Richard Fitton, Professor in Building Performance at the University of Salford, said: “The development of Energy House 2.0 has taken over six years and £16m of funding.
“Our work with some of the largest house builders and product manufacturers in the UK will help to answer difficult questions about how we reach zero carbon target in future housing. The facility will help us to stress test these buildings under extreme hot and cold climates, to provide data on energy efficiency and overheating in homes.”
Bellway’s Future Home at The University of Salford is in its final stages of build. Once complete it will be dressed by interior designers so it is ready to be occupied.
In the new year, guests will be invited to stay in the home so data can be collected on the effectiveness of each innovation.
Experts at the university will analyse the results to help determine the most viable ways for the industry to move towards net zero.
Image: Roof-mounted air source heat pump at The Future House, University of Salford (credit: Worcester Bosch)
Are you a building professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.