One of Britain’s biggest housebuilders will scrap gas boilers in all detached houses that it builds and will fit air-source heat pumps instead.
Redrow said its move would make it the first of the country’s big developers to commit to installing heat pumps and underfloor heating as standard.
The company, based in Ewloe, north Wales, built 5,715 homes last year, about half of which were detached.
Working with manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Vaillant and Daikin, Redrow has been testing heat pumps at homes on sites in the Midlands, Buckinghamshire and Kent.
Matthew Pratt, its chief executive, said he had committed to installing them on all further detached houses it built as a way of “future-proofing our homes and helping our customers to lower their energy use”.
Other developers are likely to follow suit, although some of Redrow’s bigger rivals are still trying to shore up their supply chains, with the heat pump industry being relatively new.
The government’s Future Homes Standard will require all new-build homes to be gas-free by 2025 and the builders themselves, including Redrow, have looming net zero carbon goals that they are working to hit.
Redrow wants to achieve net zero by 2050 and it said that introducing air-source heat pump technology would have “the biggest impact to date” on the efficiency of its homes, which it claims, even now, are 63 per cent more efficient than those built in the 1970s.
By rolling out heat pumps now, the company can “manage this industry transformation at our own pace”, rather than being forced by the government in two years’ time.
Redrow’s switch from gas boilers is as much to meet consumer demand as it is for regulatory purposes. The surge in gas and electricity prices has brought energy efficiency to the front of homeowners’ minds. Redrow’s polling shows that three quarters of British adults think that living in an energy-efficient home is more important now than it was a year ago.
“We know how important energy efficiency is to our customers and we’re proud to be investing in newer, greener technology and leading the way by offering these energy-efficient features,” Pratt, 47, said.
Heat pumps typically cost more than a traditional gas boiler but Redrow’s research shows that 83 per cent of would-be buyers are willing to pay extra for an energy-efficient home. Costs are expected to come down as the technology becomes more widespread.
In one of its heat pump trials with Mitsubishi, the Japanese electronics group, customers tried the new technology under real conditions for a year. Redrow monitored the energy consumption and found that heat pumps used “significantly less energy” than gas boilers and were between two and three times more efficient than an A-rated boiler.
Heat pumps work by sucking in ambient heat from outside, even in sub-zero temperatures, which is then used to heat the home, typically through underfloor heating downstairs and radiators upstairs.