Darren Jones doesn’t just ‘talk the talk’. He ‘walks the walk’.
He’s run a successful plumbing and heating business based in Kirkby Lonsdale on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales for the past 12 years and in recent years has become increasingly interested in renewables. The fact that they are less harmful for the environment is incentive enough, but they also offer potential opportunities for the growth of his business.
Darren recently took the Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) course at GTEC in Hawes and was so impressed with the new technology that he decided to retro-fit his own home with an ASHP:
“I couldn’t very well extol the virtues of heat pumps whilst running my home on a gas boiler, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is and fit one at home. I honestly haven’t looked back. It’s brilliant – and so much more interesting than a gas boiler.
“I live in a typical three bed semi and, like most people, have run the heating and hot water off a combi-boiler for years. The new heat pump is so efficient, it’s already saving me money on the running costs – around a pound a day – and that’s just on the hot water.
“The whole retro-fit took around three days. I’m Gas Safe registered, so I was able to decommission the boiler and strip it out before we put a cylinder with a volumiser up in the loft to store the hot water. There’s 200L hot water up there now, ready whenever we need it.
“We fitted the heat pump up at first floor level, tucked up out of the way on a west-facing wall – you hardly see it. It’s quiet too; you can barely hear it, just the fan ticking away. The great thing about the air source heat pump installation is that you can use your existing radiators and pipework – though you need to add glycol to the water, to stop it freezing in the winter.
“The training at GTEC was really good. It’s a Level 3 qualification which gave me all I needed to get going. There’s the right balance of theory and paperwork and you get to practice the installations on rigs at the centre. The best part was the exam itself!
“I used one of the RHITTS vouchers to part-fund the training and have put two of my lads through solar thermal training on the scheme, it was great. I employ five people in the business and am just about to take on another apprentice. I really hope the Government can re-introduce the scheme, or something like it, so that more people can benefit from renewables training. It’s the future and we need to get ready for it.”
Business is booming
“We’re really busy at the moment. We cover a fifty-mile radius from where we’re based and get most of our business through word of mouth. We offer more traditional plumbing and heating services and have come increasingly to specialise in renewables – biomass and solar thermal installs.
“We’re being asked more and more to quote on heat pump installations. Mainly air source, but ground source too. Some are for new properties, but there are also lots of retro-fitting jobs around.
“The RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme)runs until the end of March 2022 and people are realising that the payback from that soon covers the initial outlay on equipment and materials. Again, we’ll need the government to come up with something to help people make the change once the RHI’s run its course. Last year they were talking about replacing RHI with a Clean Heat Grant scheme, providing grants of up to £4,000 to households and businesses wanting to install eligible renewable heating technology. The industry needs clarification on this – and soon.
“A lot of our customers live in the countryside and aren’t connected to the grid. At the moment they rely on oil, which is messy, smelly and unpredictable in terms of pricing. I’m finding that most of my customers are open to renewables and interested to hear about greener options for heating. It’s really just a case of educating them – letting them know about the alternatives. The fact that I’m now running my home with renewables makes it a lot easier to persuade them to go green!”
To learn more about the technology, check out Grant UK’s Aerona³ R32 Air Source Heat Pumps here. In the manufacturer’s own words, they “combine exceptional performance, reliability and value” and “have an impressive ErP rating of A+++ across the range.”
Stop press! The Renewable Heat Installer Training & Support Scheme (RHITSS) vouchers that Darren benefitted from are now available again. There are limited numbers – if you want to take advantage of this great opportunity for heavily discounted renewables training (including supporting qualifications Hot Water Systems & Safety (G3), WRAS Water Regulations and Energy Efficiency for Domestic Heating), visit https://www.rhitss.co.uk/ to register your interest, or call: 01969 666111