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Experts from across heating industry join Vaillant's Heat Pump Challenge

Vaillant’s Heat Pump Challenge aims to open the debate around installing and living with a heat pump and delve into what is possible with this low carbon technology.

Working with broadcaster and architecture pundit, Kevin McCloud, and installers from across the country, the Heat Pump Challenge will highlight installations in a range of properties, to help answer some of the common questions asked by installers and homeowners alike.

Here, we take a look at the five-strong judging panel team who joined us to view the entries received from installers around the UK and discussed their interest in helping homes transition to lower carbon technology.

Kevin McCloud, broadcaster and architecture pundit: Kevin has been presenting programmes about architecture and design for more than 25 years and is no stranger to viewing homes where innovative thinking is a key to the project’s success. He has also written over a dozen books and hundreds of articles championing architecture, sustainable development, the historic environment, and ecological construction. His interest in heat pumps stems partly from his own first-hand experience of living and working with this technology, having installed them at home.

Kevin said: “I’ve spent much of my career working with visionary people who have been able to realise their dreams - no matter how ambitious - by building extraordinary homes, despite those around them saying it’s not possible. We’re now in a similar situation in the home energy sector where some have enthusiastically embraced heat pump technology while some people are fearful about reliability and suitability, or simply don’t understand what they are, how they work, and the efficiency benefits they offer.

“I’m excited to be part of Vaillant’s Heat Pump Challenge as it’s an opportunity to find out what is happening in the here and now to make heating our homes more efficient and climate friendly.”

Jade Lewis, Chief Executive, Sustainable Energy Association: Jade supports with the development of a range of energy efficiency policies and is dedicated to the decarbonisation of homes and buildings. She joined the SEA with a wealth of experience within a policy and regulatory affairs capacity after working with the Government, Parliament, and industry at the heart of some of the biggest challenges facing the sustainable energy and construction sectors recognising how important it is to bring industry and policymakers together to design effective strategies for change.

Jade comments: “There is a great deal of discussion around heat pumps, how they work and the type of properties they are most suitable for. However, there is still a lot of misunderstanding and conflicting information out there. Heat pumps are just part of the puzzle when it comes to moving the UK towards a lower carbon future and I am delighted to be involved in a project that aims to highlight what can be achieved using this technology.”

Ian Rippin, Chief Executive Officer of MCS – the Microgeneration Certification Scheme: Ian’s career underpins his passion for quality and the role that standards play in protecting consumers. Ian has held managing director roles for the Environment Agency’s National Laboratory Service and for CSA Group’s UK operations as the world leader in explosion safety and environmental product certification. As CEO of MCS, a profit-for-purpose organisation operating at the heart of the UK’s adoption of renewable energy sources for homes and small businesses, he is currently leading MCS through a period of transformational change as the organisation strives to inspire the next generation of home-grown energy, fit for the needs of every UK home and community.

Ian said: “Ensuring quality across heat pump installations is so important to ensure customers feel comfortable and confident in choosing this technology.. I know we have many installers across the country who are designing and fitting heat pump systems that deliver on both comfort and efficiency. I am keen to see how installers are providing these solutions and ensuring this technology proves possible in a wide variety of property types, and also the steps installers are putting in place to ensure the end user understands how best to use the technology when installed too.”

Simon Melbourne, System Sales and Design Manager at Vaillant: Simon is on hand to provide expert insight and advice on the design of a full heating and hot water system through to answering bespoke technical queries on all Vaillant solutions. He has a wealth of experience gained from 25 years in the heating and hot water industry, working across roles including a technical advisor, service engineer, renewables product manager and, most recently, managing the System Sales and Design team at Vaillant.

“The design of a heat pump system is vital for an effective outcome that delivers on customer expectations,” explains Simon. “I am looking forward to seeing how installers have put this into action in homes across the country, to help homeowners transition to lower carbon heating successfully. This may be in a property where initially a more traditional boiler system may have been the more obvious upgrade, for example in an older cottage or a terraced property.”

And finally, Mark Wilkins, Technologies and Training Director at Vaillant: Mark has been working in the heating industry for almost 40 years and brings a wealth of expertise surrounding the development of boilers through to an in-depth knowledge of low carbon technology, including heat pumps. Starting his career as an apprentice at British Gas, Mark’s passion and commitment to the heating industry and its evolution has led to him being a spokesperson for Vaillant and ensuring its technology delivers efficient, low carbon heating to the homes of the UK.

Mark comments: “It is fantastic to have such wide support from across the industry to explore the opportunities when installing heat pumps into UK homes. Within the judging panel we have expertise across design, sustainable solutions and problem solving, and we are all excited to delve further into the projects submitted.

“For many, although heat pumps are talked about, there is an element of the unknown when it comes to installation, efficiency and heating our homes with something different to the traditional boilers we know so well. We hope that by investigating projects that showcase heat pumps being installed in variety of property types, we can break down some of the barriers and make people feel at home with low carbon technology and its capabilities.”

The panel consider factors such as system design, installation, and commitment to helping the property transition to a lower carbon future. Although not right for every property, the judges lookinghoped to explore where a heat pump has provided an ideal solution, perhaps where it may not have originally seemed achievable due to the property age or location.

Find out more about the Heat Pump Challenge here