Watch: Kevin McCloud visits converted boat house where owners claim heat pump has cut their energy bills in half

Kevin (right) with Tom and Nigel (centre), as well as installers Ben and Jamie (left)
Kevin (right) with Tom and Nigel (centre), as well as installers Ben and Jamie (left) (Image credit: Vaillant)

The owners of a converted boathouse with a traditional thatched roof received a visit from Grand Design’s presenter Kevin McCloud after the property won a sustainable energy award.

Tom and Nigel Bligh, owners of Pedn Billy Boathouse, a property which overlooks the Helford River in Helford Passage, Cornwall, won the Vaillant Heat Pump Possible competition after installing an air source heat pump.

Earlier this year, Vaillant called on homeowners and heating installers to share their heat pump projects in homes where the technology may, on the surface, not have seemed the most obvious option.

Heat pump improved efficiency of old thatched home

Homeowner Tom said they installed the heat pump because they want to “help save the world from global warming” and because the previous electric heating system was inefficient.

Thatched roof properties can often be difficult to keet energy efficient, and there have been claims that old houses are not always suited to heat pumps, but this house suffered no such problems - in fact they claim their experience actually saved them money.

The couple rent the property out and have claimed guests have no complaints about the system, as Nigel added: “We have also been able to rent the property for a longer period of time. Our guests are really happy with the system and often comment on how quiet it is.”

Saves 50% on electricity costs, owners claim

Kevin McCloud speaks to the homeowner outside the converted boat house

Kevin McCloud was impressed with the heat pump and how it adapted to its seaside position (Image credit: Vaillant)

The pair admit to being ‘smug’ about the cost savings they have achieved thanks to the upgrade.

Nigel said: “We are using 50% less electricity than before we had the heat pump installed, which is a significant saving. Most importantly, we are playing our part in protecting the planet from global warming – and we hope others will follow in our footsteps.”

For more information about the technology, read our guide on installing an air source heat pump.

Heat pump corrode proof and built to be forgotten

Pedn Billy Boathouse won the Vaillant Heat Pump Possible competition

Pedn Billy Boathouse won the Vaillant Heat Pump Possible competition (Image credit: Vaillant)

Installing heat pumps on coastal properties is usually difficult as most heat pumps are not designed for continued exposure to salt water environments.

The metal casings that protect the components are susceptible to galvanic corrosion, which can cause failure over time, but many heat pumps now come with corrosion protection as standard. You can read more on how do heat pumps work in our guide.

Abode Heat’s Ben Hodges, who designed the heat pump system, said: “The Boathouse is just metres away from the beach, and we needed a quality system that would reliably handle the coastal location and salt air.

“We really like the Vaillant aroTHERM plus system as it comes from the factory with superb corrosion protection as standard, which is really key when you’re doing projects in coastal areas.”

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.