How this homeowner installed two heat pumps to improve the energy efficiency of his 1850s farmhouse

Two Vaillant heat pumps outside a cottage with a hedge growing up it
A homeowner installed a full Vaillant system with two aroTHERM plus air source heat pumps at his rural Leicestershire home (Image credit: Vaillant)

More and more homeowners are exploring ways to reduce their carbon emissions as the impacts of the climate crisis become apparent – to say nothing of high energy bills.

One of these householders is Michael Mulligan, who has installed a full Vaillant system with two aroTHERM plus air source heat pumps at his rural Leicestershire home.

He was keen on making the whole property as energy efficient as possible, as well as using the electricity generated by the already installed solar panels as part of the new heating system.

Why older home had two heat pumps installed

Mulligan installed two heat pumps in his farmhouse, as well as installing solar panels

Christian Ford, Director at Indigo Renewables Ltd, which specialises in offering sustainable and renewable systems for both domestic and commercial properties, was in charge of the project.

He said: “The reason behind the specification of two aroTHERM plus’ for this project, was due to the age of the property. With it being an old farmhouse built in the 1850s, the heat loss calculations measured too high for a single unit to cope, so having two heat pumps installed meant that we could overcome the losses.

“Once Vaillant had put together the materials design and specification against our criteria and the system was agreed, the first step was to remove the existing cast-iron boiler and hot water cylinder and give the system a full power flush so the new system we were putting in was clean.”

Switch from gas boiler to heat pump was 'simple'

The installation was designed to cause as little stress to the homeowner as possible, despite the complications that came with the removal of the existing cast-iron boiler.

Christian said: “The installation was a retrofit project. Due to the age of the existing heating system set up, we knew we’d need to remove the original floor-standing, gas-fired, cast-iron boiler and an open vented hot water cylinder before the new heating system could be installed.

“The original non-condensing gas boiler was at the end of its life, so there was no question that whatever replacement system was installed, it would be more energy-efficient.”

Homeowner Michael said: “From my point of view, the installation process was quite simple. From removing the existing hot water cylinder to putting in the new heat pump system, it was all completed in a timely manner."

The homeowner in a blue shirt and the installer standing in the garden of the farmhouse

Michael Mulligan and installer Christian Ford along with Michael's dog (Image credit: Vaillant)

Many homeowners find installing an air source heat pump difficult because there are not enough trained installers in the UK.

Vaillant is upskilling its base of heating installers with the necessary skills to install heat pumps by investing more than £1.2 million into its training team to ensure it can continue to meet demand, as well as unveiling a new multi-million-pound heat pump production line at its headquarters in Belper.

Earlier this month Homebuilding & Renovating reported the UK government is committing  £5million towards increasing the number of heat pump installers through a new Heat Training Grant.

The Heat Training Grant will provide aspiring heat pump installers with £500 discounts on the costs on engineering courses.

Heat pumps worked with pre-existing solar panels

Mr Mulligan was keen to explore the ways in which he could utilise the solar PV panels already installed on his property to help heat his home.

Christian explained: “We also installed a wireless Vaillant sensoCOMFORT controller.

“As it has an outdoor sensor and weather compensation functionality, it can select the most energy efficient heat source for the system to use based on the outside climate.”

If you’re wondering which energy source is the right choice for your property’s needs, our guide on solar PV has plenty of useful advice. 

Homeowner Michael Morgan, left, and installer Christian Ford

Homeowner Michael Morgan, left, and installer Christian Ford, next to the two air source heat pumps (Image credit: Vaillant)

Homeowner left satisfied with the heat pumps, and he's not alone

Michael joined the thousands of others who have been left satisfied with their heat pumps. 

Recent research into heat pumps finds that 80% of heat pump owners are satisfied with all aspects of their heat pumps in the UK.

Those surveyed were also asked about the performance of ground source heat pumps and boilers, the installation process, ease of use, safety, reliability, and effectiveness of heat pumps and boilers in providing heating and hot water, with the majority preferring all forms of heat pumps.

What's even more impressive is the homeowner did use the government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which reduces costs of installation through heat pump grants.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.