Stephanie Gregory, Director of Marketing at The Kensa Group, details how one of the company’s latest projects is set to result in lower heating bills for residents in Oxford. 

A local energy system demonstrator project aiming to evidence how ground source heat pumps with smart heating controls can reduce heating costs for residents, while also lowering carbon emissions, is officially underway in Oxford.

Leading housing provider Stonewater has partnered with Kensa Contracting to have 60 of its homes at Blackbird Leys installed with Kensa’s low carbon heating solution.

Dr Matthew Trewhella, Managing Director of Kensa Contracting, said: “These heating systems will be the first of their kind in the UK, and the only renewable heating solution capable of delivering domestic heating at a lower running cost than a traditional gas boiler, with no local emissions and the lowest carbon intensity of any heating.”

The heat pump installations form part of Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO), a £41m world-first project showcasing an integrated approach to decarbonising power, heat and transport across Oxford.

Supported by Innovate UK, ESO is led by consortium partners Oxford City Council, Pivot Power, Habitat Energy, Kensa Contracting, Invinity Energy Systems, and the University of Oxford. The partners aims to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality by accelerating a switch to electric vehicles and decarbonisation of heating will make the project a model for cities around the world.

The ESO project will demonstrate how ground source heat pumps with smart controls can help balance the electricity grid as part of an integrated local energy solution that also includes grid connected batteries and smart electric vehicle charging. 

The renewable heating scheme with Stonewater is the first phase of Kensa Contracting’s aim to pilot the smart technology in 300 homes around Oxford over the next two years under the ESO project. 
Stonewater’s residents will benefit from clean, renewable heat with savings of up to 25% compared to a standard ground source heating system. 

The Oxford-based project integrates Kensa Shoebox heat pumps in each home connected to shared ground loop arrays and Switchee smart controls and smart meters linked to dynamic energy pricing.
Smart meters enable the residents to switch to Octopus Energy’s Agile Tariff, which varies the electricity price every half hour and optimises energy use when renewable power is prevalent on the grid and, together with Switchee, internet-connected smart heating controls will automatically run residents’ heating systems at the lowest cost times to reduce their bills while maintaining their comfort levels, and caring for the environment.

The carbon intensity of electricity roughly correlates with the cost, as electricity is cheapest when wind and solar generation is high. This means that load shifting of heating immediately reduces the carbon intensity.

Dynamic electricity tariffs offer Stonewater’s residents cheap energy when electricity demand is low and renewable energy is plentiful and higher prices when demand peaks.

Heat can account for over 50% of a property’s energy consumption and this means that large savings can be made by heating homes outside of peak periods. The Kensa system utilised at the 60 properties will automate load shifting so that residents make savings from dynamic tariffs without having to change their behaviour.

Leon Storer, Assistant Director – Capital Investment at Stonewater, said: “We’re delighted to be a part of this innovative and forward-thinking project, supporting the local authority in achieving a net-zero carbon future. 

“By replacing our residents’ current high carbon night storage heaters with Kensa’s ground source heat pump systems, we’re able to not only work towards a more sustainable future, but an economical one too. This is because a benefit of transitioning to this type of heat pump system is the significant cost savings it provides for residents.” 

Despite delays to commence as a result of COVID-19, Kensa expects to complete the installations across the Stonewater homes before winter 2020.