In 2006, Powis Hughes’ partners found the perfect building to house the firm’s team of chartered surveyors. The 50-year old barn was the right size, in a beautiful and peaceful rural location and is located just a few minutes drive from major road routes.
At that time, although the price of oil was on the up, with no gas supply to the barn, there was little choice but to specify an oil-fired boiler.
“Our commitment to promoting sustainability starts with our own actions,” commented Rafe Staples, director.
“As a small firm we can quickly agree on what we want to achieve and just get it done. We aim to comply with – and where possible exceed – relevant legislation for low carbon and sustainability. We have also invested in renewable technology where we believe that the capital cost will help us to reduce our on-going costs in future years.”
Encouraged by these results, the partners wanted to reduce their dependence on oil for heating.
According to Rafe:
“Despite being only five years old, our boiler was becoming less efficient and increasingly unreliable. We were spending about £2,500 per year on oil – that’s over 11 tonnes of CO2 emissions and spending more each year on maintenance call outs. With a large oil tank to manage we were also aware of the risk of leakage and oil theft. As part of our 2012 annual sustainability review we decided to consider alternative options for space heating.”
“When looking for a company we could trust for advice about our heating needs, GHE was an obvious choice,” stated Rafe.
“GHE had previously handled our solar installation, which went without a hitch. They listened to our needs, researched the solution and looked for ways to help us minimise costs. They were also able to show us a ground-source heat pump installation that had been operating efficiently for many years.”
GHE specified a Dimplex 20kW heat pump that generates sufficient heat output to keep the offices comfortably warm, and is also compatible with a commercial 3-phase electricity supply. The over-sized radiators work well with the heat pump, as it operates at lower temperatures than a conventional boiler.
GHE had the new system up and running before de-commissioning the old heating system – ensuring that Powis Hughes could continue to use its offices during the two-week winter period when the system was installed.
Despite the increased electricity demand as a result of using the heat pump, Powis Hughes has reduced its overall heating costs because it no longer uses oil. In addition to saving money on heating bills, it is still a net exporter of electricity as it produced almost 20,000 kWh from its wind and solar installations over the same period.
“We set the pump to come on in the early morning so that it’s nice and warm by the time that people turn up for work – the thermostat is set slightly warmer than before – it’s a more comfortable working temperature.”
“Absolutely, no hesitation,” said Rafe.
“Regardless of your views on sustainability, it makes business sense for everyone. There are tax benefits and investing in micro-generation is giving us a much better return on our cash than leaving it in the bank! Even if you don’t have a long lease on your building, talk to your landlord and see if they would be willing to share the costs!”
"So many of our clients have remarked on how much we’ve done. It’s something we’ve become known for and is setting us apart, and has opened up conversations that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.”
“The DECC measurements are helping businesses and heat pump installers improve efficiencies all the time,” said Rafe.
“We’re currently preparing for ISO 14001 certification – the world’s most recognised environmental standard – and our renewable technologies are central to us exceeding our responsibilities. We are also actively considering our next steps in anticipation of our sustainability review.”
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