Oxfordshire Builder Embraces Eco-Friendly Future, Fitting Heat Pumps Years Before Mandate

Pye Homes are ensuring they stay ahead of the curve when it comes to thermal efficiency and legislation, by already fitting low carbon air source heat pumps (ASHPs) – a programme which began three years before it will be legally required – across its Church Farm development in Radley.

While traditional gas boilers can still be fitted to existing homes, all new housing built from January 2025 must feature a low carbon alternative, such as air source heat pumps.

These work like refrigerators in reverse, taking heat from the air, compressing it into liquid which increases its temperature. The pump will then transfer the heat to the home’s central heating system.

While traditional gas boilers are 98% efficient, air source heat pumps have the potential to be up to 400% efficient.

“We wanted Church Farm to be an exemplar site, in terms of carbon reduction,” says Andrew Cockroft, Head of Technical at Pye Homes.

“We’re already achieving a high EPC rating in our homes under current building regulations, but are getting ready to do that under the new regulations which come into place in 2027.”

He adds: “At Church Farm, on average we have improved the current building regulations level of carbon emissions by as much as 60% as a result of adopting air source heat pumps combined with the photovoltaic panels that we installed in the homes.”

Nigel Pearson, Customer Liaison Manager at Pye Homes, adds: “A lot of housebuilders are still putting gas boilers into their new build homes, and while you can hit current building regulations with a gas boiler and solar combination, we’re targeting carbon reduction, and hopefully our residents can see the benefit of that.”

Air source heat pumps will be fitted as standard in all three of Pye Homes’ planned developments in the next three years, at Hill Rise in Woodstock, Long Hanborough North, Long Hanborough and Banbury Road in Woodstock.

Nigel adds: “Going forward, we are pushing the boundaries of thermal efficiency; the more airtight the property is, the less heat it requires, so we are looking at using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) which are very easy to install and very airtight with fantastic thermal properties.

“With ASHPs and underfloor heating, you’re warming up the air and then the fabric of the building, so if you turn it off the fabric of the building doesn’t warm up and any heat within the property dissipates into the walls.”

“Customers need to be re-educated on how they heat their home, as you need to leave the heating on continually, albeit at a low level. This seems alien – however when you explain why, they accept it a lot more. It’s a new way of living.”

House buyers are drawn to Church Farm due to the myriad energy efficiency benefits in its ‘eco homes with a twist’. A sustainable community which promotes a greener way of life – pairing traditional materials with contemporary design, alongside plenty of innovative features, to ensure the homes are adaptable for everyone.

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