Somerset Green Homes: Henry’s story

Henry lives in a Mendip two-bed mid-terrace built in 1985. In the four years he has been there he has been gradually upgrading the insulation and green credentials of the property. Much of the work he has done himself. 

‘I am very worried about climate change; I feel we all need to do what we can’ 

Henry topped up the loft insulation to 300mm with rolls of insulation made from recycled plastic bottles. He also took advantage of a local grant scheme to insulate the front and rear external cavity walls. 

The existing double-glazed windows had additional tertiary glazing fitted. The front and patio doors were upgraded with additional doors and insulation and thermal lined curtains. These DIY improvements were at a cost of a few hundred pounds (and much fun!), and he has saved £180 on the gas bill. 

Henry took advantage of the Frome Town Council’s pioneering Solar Streets scheme, installing 1.8 kWp solar photovoltaic panels and a 5.2kWh battery. Even as early as April, the panels can be generating more electricity than he uses. 

Henry did a lot of research into air-to-air source heat pumps as a possible alternative to the existing gas heating and hot water system. He wanted to move away from fossil fuels and utilise solar PV generation. He received quotes of up to £14,000 for systems that would require new radiators or the installation of underfloor heating, both costly and disruptive. Instead, for £1,700, he had a 3.2kw air-to-air source heat pump installed. This blows warm air into the living room, which then permeates into the rest of the well-insulated house. The property still has a gas boiler for hot water and for additional heating on cold winter days. 

Like many people that have been on a retrofit journey over the last few years, Henry was learning as he went. He didn’t know about the MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme). Unfortunately, the company that installed the air-to-air source heat pump was not accredited.

Without MCS accreditation, it is not possible to claim any government financial incentives such as the RHI (renewable heat incentive) or Boiler Upgrade scheme. He also expected that all electricity suppliers would pay you for any electricity generated through the solar PV. However, this is not yet the case. It is important to check with your supplier that they offer the Smart Export Guarantee tariff. 

In the garden Henry has made positive changes, creating more habitats for wildlife through pond and wild meadow creation. 

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