Motortrades Insight Magazine Online

Energy efficiency: Viessmann says car dealerships should consider ground source heat pumps but must watch out for scammers

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Published: 5 September 2013


Ground-source heat pumps and under-floor heating could transform the green credentials of the automotive retail industry – and save dealerships thousands of pounds in heating bills in the long-run.


But before rushing into a decision, dealerships should beware that there are rip-off companies willing to mis-sell the wrong type of heating so they can make a quick profit.


The average car dealership’s energy bill is around £40,000 per year, according to Rich Collins, director of Eco Brand. He said that the average dealership could save £10,000 per year simply by cutting its energy use, while £4,000 of this could be saved without spending a penny and simply encouraging employees to change their habits and be more environmentally conscious. 


Motortrades Insight’s Danny Hewitt spoke with Viessmann’s technical manager and in-house heat pumps expert Hugh Jones. “When the heat pump is matched to the right system and the right building, it’s really, really effective,” he said. “If you’ve got an old 1940s house and decide to just take a gas boiler out and put a heat pump in, you could be paying more than you were for your gas. That’s the risk. That’s what happens. When peoples’ boilers die, they decide to go for something new and not very good and there are companies out there who will sell them a heat pump even if really they should be selling them another boiler.


“That’s probably the biggest threat – the undermining of confidence from people mis-selling.”


Eco Brand’s Rich Collins said that for heat pumps to work efficiently, ‘you need a lot of land to bury them’. He agreed that they are useful in reducing costs but only if the right heating solution is installed in the right location. “They need to be buried deeply to work efficiency and therefore reduce carbon emissions,” he explained. “They can provide hot water and need little maintenance which is in their favour.


“Air-sourced heat pumps use electricity so they immediately have a disadvantage over ground-sourced heat pumps and they need plenty of space where they are fitted on the side of a building to ensure the healthy circulation of air around the pump.


“Solar panels still work more efficiently as they sit on the dealer’s roof out of the way and can contribute significantly to reduced fuel bills and may even generate some cash by selling energy back into the grid.”


Dealerships could benefit from a scheme called Planet Positive, using green credentials to attract new customers and boost their brand image.  


In an industry tainted by a public perception of greedy salesmen, dealerships are looking at ways of improving their image. 


While car buyers are unlikely to consider the green credentials of a car dealership when they make a decision to purchase a new car, having a scheme that encourages real-world energy savings will surely prove to be a welcome boost to individual car dealerships and franchises across the country. 


Viessmann’s Hugh Jones concluded: “The ground sourced heat pumps lend themselves to much bigger installations so if you were going for factories or manufacturing facilities, the ground source would probably be easier to put in. 


“Air source are limited in the size you can get. There’s no reason why you couldn’t have a really big air sourced system but for a small dealership you may be able to use air sourced.”


And with schemes such as the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive in addition to savings through the HMRC’s Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme, heat pumps may not be right for every building and every situation – sometimes more costly than a conventional boiler – but with payback times of around seven years, they could prove to save dealerships and other organisations in the motor industry thousands of pounds annually in the long-run.  

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