The Octopus Energy heat pump installation revolution is coming, are you ready for your heat pump?
Octopus Energy’s Vision
Octopus Energy will shortly be launching their new low-cost heat pumps to meet growing demand for this eco-friendly, energy efficient technology. April 2022 is the target date that Octopus Energy has set itself to begin the roll-out of heat pumps to homeowners in London and the Home Counties as a prelude to nationwide expansion shortly afterwards.
Their goal is to revolutionise the heat pump market, decarbonising homes across the UK and helping people move away from less efficient, more environmentally harmful forms of heating.
Greg Jackson is the founder of Octopus Energy and speaks passionately about making heat pumps more affordable for everyone. An air source heat pump will typically set you back between £4,000 and £6,000, depending on the size and make of unit you need. On top of this, you will need to pay for installation, which will be several thousand pounds more.
Jackson’s vision is to drive down the cost of heat pumps themselves and to train a huge army of installers who will be able to install heat pumps quickly and efficiently, as well as at a low cost.
Octopus Energy Heat Pump Training and R&D Centre
Octopus energy has put its money where its mouth is and invested £10 million in a first of its kind UK training centre for heat pump engineers. It is more than just a training centre, aiming also to focus on research and development, improving the installation process and innovating to bring the cost of installation down to a fraction of what it currently is.
The centre in Slough contains two purpose-built, full-sized houses, one built to the standard of a 1970s home and the other one built to the standards required by building regulations in the 2000s.
Approximately 40% of houses in the UK are designed and built to one or other of these standards, which means they are ideal for practising installation and removal of heat pumps in order to optimise, innovate and improve the efficiency of this process so that the cost can be brought down.
Octopus energy can train 1000 green heat engineers every year at this facility, which is twice the number previously being trained in the UK. The combination of more installers being trained and the installation process becoming more streamlined will result, says Jackson, in the price of installation coming down.
All of the engineers going through octopus’s training programme will be directly employed by the company itself. A lot of the electricians that are being trained up come from the pool of staff who were previously installing smart meters.
Octopus Energy Heat Pump Installation Efficiencies
Some of the efficiencies that will be incorporated into the installation process include the careful deployment of key staff. Presently, the cost of installation is pushed up by the fact that highly skilled staff are on site for the whole installation process, which includes lugging the unit from the delivery truck, up the garden path and into the customer’s home.
Octopus plans to improve the installation process so that these highly skilled staff, such as electricians, arrive on site at the appropriate time to wire up the units once they have been put in place by other staff specifically trained to do that part of the job.
Optimising Heat Pump Manufacture
And it is not just installation that Octopus is focused on. The company is paying great attention to optimisations on the product side too. It is working with manufacturers in a strategic way to procure components and seek efficiencies in the supply chain, which will reduce the cost of materials and the heat pump units themselves.
Octopus say that buying directly from manufacturers has reduced the cost of the finished units, and they might one day manufacture units themselves, giving them full control over development and procurement of the components.
It also has a team of research scientists and engineers who are tasked with the development of innovative approaches that will overcome some of the difficulties associated with the manufacture of heat pumps in the past.
The ambition is to make heat pumps as affordable as traditional gas boilers, which should allow many more people to take advantage of this clean, green technology and help the UK to achieve its climate targets.
Electricity Tariffs for Heat Pumps
The question many people are asking is, ”Will octopus energy offer a heat pump specific energy tariff?”
At the moment there is no specific heat pump tariff available through Octopus Energy but two of their tariffs (Octopus Energy Agile and Octopus Go) make use of renewable energy, which would seem to be a good fit for use with a heat pump by the environmentally conscious consumer.
Commentators fully expect that Octopus Energy will release a heat pump tariff in the near future and I would tend to agree, given how innovative the company is and its current focus on heat pumps in general.
The company says that the cost of running a heat pump has been lowered to almost the same price as mains gas (just 4% higher) if consumers use their Agile tariff, with further efficiencies expected through innovations in the variation of the heat pump’s compressor speed.
We could say the future has already arrived. We have the technical know-how to heat our homes with green, clean heat pump technology and now need to marshal resources to make it happen.
Jackson is certainly keen to do this. He says, “By scaling up the technology and supply chain in Britain, innovative companies like ours will soon be able to fit and run heat pumps without any government support, bringing us one step closer to making the UK the Silicon Valley of Energy and creating thousands of clean energy jobs throughout the country.”
I for one think that this cannot come quickly enough, especially with the price of energy rising precipitously in recent times, and the conflict in Ukraine making matters worse.
If we can roll out heat pumps to every home in the UK in the coming years, perhaps we can do our bit to combat climate change and at the same time help thousands out of fuel poverty.