Affordable low-carbon heating for rural social housing residents

Hot water and space heating integrated system looks to address fuel poverty and social landlord operating costs by using heat pumps to charge thermal batteries in rural Scotland.

Providing low-carbon, affordable heat to social landlord residents
Lowering running costs and reducing maintenance needs
Combining high temperature heat pumps with thermal batteries to reduce electricity demand

The challenge

West Highland Housing Association in the Scottish region of Argyll was looking to reduce operating costs and reduce carbon emissions while using electricity as the primary fuel source.

The geographical area served by the social landlord is rural with islands and off the mains gas grid. As a result, their homes use all-electric heating. Argyll is an area with around 45% fuel poverty and a large percentage of single occupancy pensioners.

The solution

The Sunamp High Temperature Heat Pump (HTHP) package for all-electric heating was installed to provide low-carbon space heating and hot water for 145 homes. This set up is tailored for the needs of large-scale landlords, and on this occasion, part funded by the Scottish Government’s Decarbonisation Fund for social landlords.

The high temperature heat pumps are configured to charge the Sunamp thermal batteries during the cheapest electricity tariff periods, known as “load shifting”. Therefore, the batteries provide warm radiators and hot water with little need to use electricity.

The benefits

Residents can count on having plenty of hot water when they need it, at mains pressure. Energy consumption is lower which reduces costs, as does making the most of low-cost electricity tariffs.

For West Highland Housing, maintenance is quicker and easier. The Sunamp thermal batteries require no routine checks and the heat pumps are installed outside, so no access to the properties is needed. Additionally, the housing association can increase the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) points per property and bring more homes up to Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing post-2020 (EESSH2) standard.

Since the majority of heat comes from off-peak electricity, both carbon emissions and running costs are expected to be lower.

Indeed, Changeworks, an environmental charity delivering solutions for low carbon living, is monitoring West Highland Housing Association’s scheme to evaluate the impact of low-carbon heat and battery storage on householders. Their report will help determine if these renewable measures should be rolled out more widely to alleviate fuel poverty, in addition to working towards the EESSH2 standard.


Thermal batteries save space and stack neatly in a cupboard.

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