A ground source heat pump from Kensa is providing a strong return on investment for a rural newbuild property in Powys. HVP reports.

in sales there is no better tool than a testimonial. Taking this quite literally, Howard Smith, owner of Smith Builders, installed a Kensa ground source heat pump into his self-sustainable selfbuild to benefit his pocket and the environment, and provide first-hand heat pump experience and expertise to his clientele, of which many have since become ground source advocates.

Labour of love

Howard runs Smith Builders, an established construction company working on newbuild projects and property renovations across Powys, Herefordshire and the surrounding areas. Being a skilled project manager and construction worker, Howard had always wanted to build his own property. On a chance visit to a friend’s new home in a picturesque village in Powys, he noticed an overgrown plot with a dilapidated little cottage up for sale. He saw the potential immediately and bought it at an auction two weeks later.

The plot was a sizeable smallholding with two barns on-site, but the property itself was very small, consisting of a living space and one bedroom only. Being a solid stone cottage, it was damp and wet. Due to its rural location, it took Howard over three years to get planning permission to build the house of his dreams in the garden. The new two-storey property features four bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus a garage and carport. The project is a real labour of love. Howard has been working full time in his construction business and then working on his own house during evenings and weekends.


The plot is in a rural location and therefore off the gas grid. Howard knew his options for traditional fuels were limited and he was reluctant to end up with “dirty, expensive oil”, as he put it. He looked into a variety of renewable options, including air source, which he soon dismissed.

Howard commented: “I met Kensa Heat Pumps at a trade show where we spoke about the possibility of using ground source heat pumps in this project. I was impressed with Kensa’s knowledge and passion for their product and their professional, consultative approach. They didn’t go in for the hard sell, but wanted to make sure it really was the right solution for me.”

The paddock at the front of the property was perfect for the installation of slinkies to complement Kensa’s recommended 13kW Evo ground source heat pump. With Kensa’s advice and support, Howard used his own equipment to dig the trenches for the slinkies. 

Return on investment

Like all MCS-accredited self-build installations featuring Kensa ground source heat pumps, Howard’s installation is eligible for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Through the RHI, Howard will receive guaranteed tax-free quarterly payments for seven years based on the renewable heat produced by his ground source heat pump according to his Energy Performance Certificate’s deemed energy consumption. 

The efficiency of the Kensa Evo ground source heat pump installed in the property heightens the RHI returns the family can enjoy, as RHI payments are linked with the efficiency of the installed system. 
Combining a well-designed slinky ground array with a low temperature heating distribution system and high levels of building thermal efficiency, alongside the efficient Kensa Evo ground source heat pump, ensures Howard has an excellent MCS SCoP rating for lucrative RHI returns, plus low running costs.

Howard explained: “I would advise anyone considering a ground source heat pump to look into the government’s RHI scheme and work out the financial case. In most instances, you will see a return on your investment. Yes, the initial payout is more than traditional fossil fuel systems and some other renewable technologies, but the rate of return is also higher. 

“When you factor in all the other benefits that ground source brings, such as lower running costs and reduced fuel bills, you’ll see you have an efficient, renewable heating system that you’ll see the financial benefits from for years to come. This project is the best decision I ever made!”

The new house is being finished to a high specification. Howard is keen to ensure that it is as thermally efficient as possible, so has installed a secondary timber frame filled with insulation. He has also installed underfloor heating throughout, a suitable partner for ground source heat pumps.