As I sit in my living room, enveloped in layers to fend off the chill, my gaze falls on the heat pump outside that has become a symbol of my journey into sustainable heating. What began as an eco-conscious decision to replace my gas boiler with a more environmentally friendly heat pump has morphed into a harrowing saga marked by technical failures, broken promises and a maze of bureaucratic inefficiencies, leaving me both financially and emotionally drained.
The adventure kicked off with optimism, buoyed by the promise of reducing my carbon footprint and, hopefully, my energy bills. Yet, the reality has been starkly different. Despite assurances that the heat pump would deliver a robust 6.5 kW of heating output, it struggles to muster even 3.5 kW. This deficiency is acutely felt as temperatures drop below 3°C, rendering my living space inadequately heated and my comfort compromised.
Financially, the ordeal has been equally daunting. I embarked on this path in April 2022, applying for a £9k grant loan from the Energy Savings Trust Scotland. After a drawn-out and convoluted process, and only following my installer’s third strike-off, I received £6,000 in December 2022, barely covering the installation costs. The preparatory work, including the replacement of microbore piping and radiators and the removal of the gas supply, incurred additional expenses of approximately £5.5k.
My dealings with the installer have been a rollercoaster ride of incompetence and evasion, culminating in their final removal from the register after multiple failed installation attempts. Initially, the National Inspection Council (NIC) appeared as a beacon of hope, verbally promising to address the issues with my heat pump. However, they quickly retracted, advising me to seek legal counsel instead. Their lenient regulatory approach has been a source of frustration, failing to instill discipline, impart knowledge or effectively regulate the sector.
This saga has laid bare the inadequacies of the so-called “Charitable Regulators,” the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and the NIC. My confidence in these entities has evaporated, given their seeming prioritisation of annual income from their members—the heat pump installers—over consumer welfare and quality assurance. The conflict of interest inherent in these arrangements echoes the systemic failures of the Post Office Horizon scandal, highlighting a disturbing pattern of institutional negligence.
The engineers dispatched by my installer, many of whom lacked specific training in heat pump technology, often resorted to YouTube for guidance. Their inexperience led to the “short cycling” of the heat pump, severely impacting its efficiency and hastening its deterioration. A confrontational meeting with my installer and an NIC engineer only further eroded my trust in their competence and accountability.
Now, I am left with a system that not only incurs running costs nearly double that of the gas boiler it replaced but also falls woefully short of its efficiency promises, with energy losses ranging between 23% and 48% and a disheartening winter COP of 2.01.
Feeling abandoned by the system that was meant to facilitate my transition to renewable energy, I’ve turned to my MSP, EST Scotland and the RECC for support, having lost all faith in the MCS, NIC and my installer. This journey has illuminated the critical flaws within the renewable energy sector, underscored by inadequate regulation and a glaring lack of expertise.
As I reflect on my ordeal, the chilling realisation that the UK Government intends to extend its “Light Touch Regulation” to other pivotal areas, such as Artificial Intelligence, fills me with foreboding. It seems we have failed to learn from the fiascos involving the MCS, NICEIC and RECC.
My experience stands as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of embarking on the path to renewable energy without sufficient oversight and professional expertise. Despite the allure of a sustainable and cost-effective heating solution, the reality has been a stark reminder of the regulatory and technical shortcomings that plague this sector.
In an era that demands sustainability and technological progress, my endeavour to contribute to this cause has left me both literally and figuratively out in the cold. This account serves as a call to action for the urgent reform of renewable energy initiatives’ regulation and implementation, ensuring that no one else must endure a similar ordeal. As the cold seeps through my many layers of clothing, the irony of striving for warmth in a system that has left me chilled to the bone is not lost on me.
Before taking the plunge you should check out “Bodge Buster”, a book designed to guide homeowners through the complexities of air source heat pump installations. It addresses the increasing issue of inadequate installations in the UK’s air source heat pump sector. This concern is significant in the field of renewable heating, where a rise in poor installations has led to discontent and skepticism about the reliability of this technology.
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Amazon Kindle Ebook: https://amzn.to/3tIvPW1