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Finger pointed at boilers for sky-high bills in Bradford eco-homes

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Air source heat pump boilers have been blamed for problems at a flagship eco-homes scheme in Bradford which has been criticised for its high levels of energy consumption

Residents at the £5.6million Pavilion Gardens development of 45 eco-homes have complained of huge bills - up to £1,600 in just six months.

Energy bills published in the Daily Mail and Telegraph and Argus show electricity usage of 7,264kWh per year. This is more than double the typical household consumption figure of 3,300kWh published by Ofgem.

According to property managers, housing association Yorkshire Housing, the ‘boilers at Pavilion Gardens are not performing as efficiently as they should and the manufacturer has visited properties on a number of occasions in order to rectify the problems.’

It is understood Bradford Council has been working with the ‘contractor responsible for the construction of the properties at Pavilion Gardens in order to find a resolution to these problems.’

The authority has also met with residents to explain how it proposes to reimburse them for high electricity usage and Yorkshire Housing stated that ‘costs incurred in reimbursing the residents [would] be charged via the original building contract.’

It was originally predicted that occupants of the Level 6 homes, designed by Halliday Clark, would see their energy bills reduced by an average of £500 a year.

Twelve of the homes on the development, which was completed in 2011, meet Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 and the remaining homes were designed to Level 4. The homes have high levels of insulation, PV tiles, MVHR, air source heat pumps and solar hot water.

John Alker of the UK Green Building Council, said: ‘For those delivering cutting edge designs there will always be examples of things that don’t go as expected. Those should be fixed and learnt from.’

A comment from boiler manufacturer NIBE

Both NIBE air to water and exhaust air heat pumps have been used in a selection of the homes at the Pavilion Gardens development, with a number of properties using a separate district heating source.

As far as we understand, high bills have been experienced across all properties at this development, not solely those with heat pump installations – indicating that the heat source is not solely at fault.

Some of our heat pump units were not performing to their full potential and despite not being responsible for these issues – we have swiftly ensured remedial work has taken place and issues have been resolved. In these instances, it was apparent that problems arose from incorrect installation or commissioning. In some cases, end user operation also played a part, and where this was the case, we ensured residents were fully informed on correct usage for best results.

We have since installed energy meters at each of the properties to ensure usage can be properly monitored moving forward. We have repeatedly asked the housing association for the results but so far they have not been forthcoming with information.

While we’re not privy to homeowners’ individual bills, we will advise that heat pump technology will only work effectively, if correctly specified, installed and operated. We are confident that in this instance, primarily poor installation but also end user operation were the reason units were not delivering.

 In the interests of customer satisfaction, NIBE has offered free servicing, recommissioning and user training visits. We have also produced instructional DVDs to help consumers understand how to use systems efficiently. For installers, we do everything we possibly can to help ensure correct installation of our units and we have training academies across the UK to provide comprehensive support and guidance. We have even made it a condition of our warranty that systems must be installed by trained installers. In the end though, we can’t oversee every installation to make sure it is being done properly or that trained installers are being used.

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  • Search 'nibe boiler problems' on Google, Facebook and Youtube and you'll see how big of a problem these boilers really are...

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