Bellway trials roof-mounted air source heat pump
Claiming a UK first, the housebuilder has installed the low-carbon tech at the experimental eco-house The Future Home at the University of Salford.
The Future Home is being built by Bellway inside a climate-controlled chamber at the university as part of the £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 – generally, the location of air source pumps fitted to new housing under current practices – to enable comparisons to be drawn.
Air source heat pumps are being heavily promoted as natural gas boilers are phased out over the coming years. Part of the thinking behind moving them upwards is that at present they can dominate external elevations and take up space.
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.”
Bursnell continued: “It is well documented that air source heat pumps could increase running costs but so far there is little reliable data on their performance. We are looking to find the optimum settings to maximise effectiveness and minimise cost for our customers.”
The Future Home will also test underfloor and infrared heating, among other low-carbon innovations. These include mechanical ventilation, double versus triple glazing, battery storage for solar energy, and a shower that transfers heat from wastewater to warm the incoming mains supply. This reduces the energy demand from the shower.
Bursnell added: “The eyes of the new homes industry are focused firmly on this trial, but its impact could be much broader. The results could influence how householders make decisions as they replace their boilers in the coming years.”
Bellway has worked closely with home heating manufacturer Worcester Bosch to prepare for the trial, with the company providing the Bosch 3400i Hydrotop Solution unit. Donaldsons Timber Systems redesigned the home’s timber frame to accommodate the unit.
Professor Will Swan, director of Energy House Labs at the university, 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 policymakers to provide evidence for what works in meeting these challenges.”
The development of Energy House 2.0 has taken six years of research and construction work to date, with the main part of the construction job completing this summer.
Located at the university’s Frederick Road campus, the project was led by Aecom and procured through Scape, with Perfect Circle providing a range of professional services during the process.
Bellway’s Future Home is now in its final stages, with an interior design team ready to make the house ready for occupation.