NORTH WEST REGIONAL WINNER
Name: Nick Irlam
Business Name: Nick Irlam Ltd
How best describes your position/role in the business?: I run/own a ltd company
Gas Safety Number: 192408
Trade Organisations: Gas Safe, REFCOM
Project 1: Coastal Road
Technicality: The system comprises of three mixed heating zones and an indirect hot water cylinder with a domestic secondary return. The system is fully weather compensated; this targets the required heat curves to three different zones. A new extension received underfloor heating 65m2 and two radiator zones upstairs and downstairs with high water content column radiators. Our chosen boiler manufacture was a Vaillant Ecotec 630 system boiler into a WH40 low loss header, in conjunction with the new VR71 control centre. This gives full control over the three zones all with mixed circuits, hot water generation by 250 litre unvented hot water cylinder, with a domestic hot water circulation pump. Lagging and insulation are a major factor in all our work, as you can see in the plant room which is located in the garage and with the pipework to the rest of the installation. Using the ESBE circulation unit with a rotary mixer and pump, gives the VR71 full control over the system water temperature to individual zones, this makes sure the zone is never overheated and uses the least amount of energy required.
Manifold radiator distribution was used on both radiator zones which enables us to balance the system hydraulically. This also increases warm up times and reduces pump loads. We used Pegler Yorkshire Xpress crimp copper fittings for the plant room and for gas supply pipework. Where a more flexible approach was needed a MLCP pipework system with crimp fittings was also used for both the underfloor heating, hot, cold water supply and heating mains. This system is best practice and I feel should be encouraged more and we will continue to do so.
Project 2: Towers
Technicality: This system is in a bungalow and we have tried to take a different approach to this small project. We took on board what Mr & Mrs Towers required and came up with this solution. We installed a Vaillant 835 Ecotec combination boiler with two zones of heating, a radiator zone with a manifold distribution and an underfloor heating zone to supply the kitchen and bathroom. We controlled both heating zones with the superb VRC470 weather compensated control by Vaillant. We wanted to keep all the system and water isolation in one place as you can see it’s quite a compact space so we used a sanitary manifold for the hot and cold services for the bungalow. Pegler’s xpress system made the job go smoothly with its hot work free approach. Like in our other project entered, we use a MLCP pipe for a flexible approach for the flow and returns to the radiators, underfloor and hot and colds.
Professionalism: Understanding and satisfying our customer’s needs are the cornerstones of our business! We meet the customers’ needs by being professional, being reliable, having a smart appearance, demonstrating competence, good organisational skills, taking accountability, good ethics, continually improving and our best practices approach.
Service: Our exceptional service is built on recommendation, so providing a high level of service is paramount to me. Coming into my 16th year in business has been a fantastic learning journey. The most important point of all is to listen and get the customer involved. Encourage best practice and explain why this meets their individual needs. Our industry needs this type of approach and I’m proud to offer it. Without great support and products from the suppliers and manufactures like, Grahams, Vaillant, Pegler who we use day in day out, this just would not be possible. We are introducing a new website for the first time in the coming months to showcase what we do. I’m looking forward to another busy year and providing more exceptional service.
Happy Customers: “Nick provided a very good service and was very reliable. He organised the appointments well in advance, gave a good quotation and was always on time. His service was excellent and he was always courteous.” – Mr McAndrew
NORTH EAST REGIONAL WINNER
Name: Dean Foster
Business Name: Dean Foster Plumbing and Heating
How best describes your position/role in the business?: I’m a sole trader
Gas Safety Number: 570991
Trade Organisations: Gas Safe
Project: First of its kind – German engineering
Technicality: We were required to fit a German boiler – and therefore a totally German concept. It had never been done in the UK, and there is still not another in the country. The system fed two houses within the same grounds and was adapted to suit the existing central heating system. It also comprised of two water tanks that held five tonnes of water and a 60kw log burning boiler.
The system left only 2% of ash behind – it burnt the materials at such a high rate. The less you waste of a natural product, the more you’re using, making it more cost effective. Family lived over the road from a forest so they were able to use only natural materials. The old system was an oil system, which required a lot of treatment and was harmful to the environment.
Professionalism: During the process we had to liaise with German engineers through Skype and video conferencing, which required extra work during the day and managing the time difference.
It was a bespoke design that was put in place which required extra attention. We had to work in unison with other teams to ensure it all worked well. It was a pressurized system so if we weren’t careful and took proper precautions it would’ve caused a lot of damage – there was a lot of consideration to be taken.
Service: I always try and keep my service friendly – don’t speak in jargon; I make sure customers can understand me. Always provide a full run through of system in the handover, explain the ins and outs of each project. Older customers are more technically minded so don’t always need a huge amount of support. I do run offers, such as OAP and Armed Forces discount, and half price servicing on boilers in warranty period. I often send a message out at Christmas thanking everyone for their custom even if they have not been in touch that year.
Happy Customers: “Highly Recommended Tradesman. Dean was fast to respond to the call.
Professional and friendly on arrival and immediately put a lot of ease into a frustrating and unwanted situation. Dean’s expertise and experience was obvious from the start. He isolated the issues, got my water back on and then put a permanent fix in place. The after care has also been brilliant and annual servicing option that was on offer was too good to turn down. Best Price, Great Service, Flexible Working to Suit Me – The only plumber I’ll call from now on”
SOUTH WEST REGIONAL WINNER
Name: Ben Bowers
Business Name: Ben Bowers Heating Solutions Ltd
How best describes your position/role in the business? I run/own a ltd company
Gas Safety Number: 567711
Trade Organisations: GAS SAFE, OFTEC, HETAS, MCS
Project: All Things Wild
Technicality: Previously heated by an old natural gas combi, the customer was trying to run customer toilet facilities, kitchen facilities and heating all from this old system. However, as their business has grown the system had become unreliable inefficient and not capable of sustaining their requirements. The challenge was to design a system where there are various areas with completely different efficiency levels and requirements. One area currently heated by electrical fan heaters was required to have an ambient temperature of 28 degrees due to the lizards and reptiles living in this area. Other areas included a beach play area and a shop. These areas were poorly insulated and so demand was higher, although only 18 degrees required. Then next door we had a brand new building where efficiency was excellent and although almost the same size of the rest of the building the heat loss was less due to its insulation levels. With this we installed a multiple zone system using grant low loss header and pump sets. One zone heated a 250ltr unvented cylinder to give the park hot water throughout the day with secondary circulation. The second zone controlled the reptile room to give higher temperatures. The third zone to heat a beach area with fan assisted heaters. The fourth zone did the shop and the fifth zone did the new building. Each zone enabled us to control individual flow temperatures and room temperatures to get the required output and also enable us to control each zone based on requirements such as the beach only required to be timed during open hours whereas the reptile is required 24/7. Two zones also contained weather compensation to optimise efficiency as the gas supply was limited. All this in a exceptionally tight plant room. A lot of thought required
Professionalism: With this project having been around the public for large periods of time professionalism was very important. Not only for our business but also the customers’ business. We gained numerous other jobs from their customers because we were there, simple things like holding the door for prams if we were there. This I believe set us in good light and attracted our company to them for their own personal jobs. Also for Mr Fords business we looked professional at all times which hopefully reflected on his business. Every day we were on time and made the relevant manager aware that we were on site. We check with them of any particular daily requirement such as rooms in use etc. This enabled us to build a good working relationship with Mr Fords staff. We worked alongside the builders to ensure we weren’t holding them up and sometimes we pull off what we were doing to get other sections done so the builders could continue. When we worked out of hours on site we ensured that the site was locked correctly, alarms sets etc. so that the property was fully secure whenever we left site. Payments were scheduled with Mr Ford and discussed regularly to ensure no shock bills at the end. This project was very large for us as we are only a small company. We have two engineers and an apprentice but hopefully we demonstrated that we can undertake more complex projects successfully which will hopefully lead to more projects of this scale. For Mr Ford and other potential customers.
Service: We don’t usually carry out installations like this but we had previously carried out a log gasification boiler installation at the customer’s house and due to the fact we carried out this installation successfully we were asked without a tender process to do this job. Firstly, Mr Ford had a tight deadline which could not move the slightest. His busy period is school holidays and so he had advertised to open the new building ready for February for the children. Therefore, the building, along with heating, had to be up and running the week before this. We also had builders to contend with meaning we could only carry out sections of work once they had completed their work. We completed and commissioned over a week early thanks to some late evenings and hard graft. There were areas open to the public so instead of effecting Mr Fords business and shutting off certain areas, we offered to work out of hours in particular areas meaning that areas of the park could remain open at all times. We didn’t once close off any area at any time during the project. There was also additional work we carried out in the kitchen area when we worked out of hours so the kitchen and food production was untouched. This wasn’t part of the contract but as we were there, we just did it. Finally on completion and during his grand opening we offered the park an exclusive telephone number to our engineers to ensure, that in the unlikely event there was an issue we would be there within an hour. We do not really offer 24/7 service to our customers but this was an exceptional situation as any issues could have a major impact on Mr Fords business.
Happy Customers: “Ben and his team have now undertaken two major heating jobs for us. The first was the installation of a wood powered central heating system into a 17th century farmhouse, with all the challenges associated with old buildings! The system uses wood grown on the farm and has been a great success!
The second project was much more exciting though! This involved a total refit of the central heating system at the Evesham based All Things Wild family attraction. All Things Wild took the opportunity whilst building their new Jungle Mayhem soft play area, to replace the existing heating system. Jungle Mayhem houses one of the longest slides in the Midlands and provides fun whatever the weather. Not only did Ben have to work to a very tight deadline, he also had to safely work considering customers and the odd monkey!
Ben and his team did a first-class job and, as ever, hit all the deadlines on time and helped provide a warm and fun environment for our customers to enjoy.
We have lots of exciting projects in the pipeline and I am sure Ben and his team will be the first call we make!”
SOUTH EAST REGIONAL WINNER
Name: Barry Primett
Business Name: Source Heat Pumps Ltd
Trade Organisations: MCS
Project: Manor House
Technicality: The Manor House, a 1500m² listed building near Leatherhead, was long overdue a heating overhaul. A full room by room heat loss calculation was conducted, building fabric and all existing pipework was inspected. Although an old building, insulation improvements were possible in certain areas and Source first organized works to improve the building’s fabric. An oil boiler costing around £25,000 p/a to run was removed and a 92kW master/slave Vaillant Geotherm heat pump system linked to 15 boreholes 130m deep was installed. The plant was relocated from the basement of the building to an outbuilding and the services were run back to their original location via Rehau pre-insulated pipe. The pipework to existing radiators was upgraded to allow better flow rates and in addition some hidden radiators were replaced with British manufactured fan coil units. The house previously had a single flow and return to the whole of the distribution system. After discussions with the client we divided the house in to five separate zones each with its own pump, thermostat, zone valve and flow rate control valve. The end result has been a warm house with much reduced bills. The year’s energy bill has been reduced to £7,000 from the previous £25,000.
Professionalism: Source worked with a number of individuals in order to complete the project successfully.
The scheme was designed in conjunction with Simon Melbourne of Vaillant’s Renewable Technical Division to ensure the highest possible efficiency from their heat pumps was achieved.
Precise calculations around heat loss were made and a detailed survey was done as part of the design process.
The client’s needs were listened to and understood.
Works by builders, borehole drillers and electrical contractors were all co-ordinated successfully to pull the project together.
Service: It was necessary to work extremely hard in order to finish this project on time and on budget. The building and existing distribution system being very old presented us with a number of challenges. To get the system live on the last day I distinctly remember standing till 9pm in the winter rain flushing and filling the ground array with my colleagues. On another occasion the plant was not available to dig part of the header trench and so to keep the project moving Source workers hand dug part of the trenching.
Part of our process with the client is to conduct a full handover of the system and work with them as it beds in. We believe that heating is a very personal thing and that a one size fits all approach does not make for a good job. Not only do we involve the client at the design stage we also make handover and follow up visits to ensure the system is working exactly how they want it to and to review controls and settings.
Happy Customers: “I have worked on many Heatpump projects with Mark and Barry from Source Heatpumps, including GSHP and AWHP. I have been very impressed with their professionalism, knowledge of heat pump systems and trust that they will always deliver an excellent quality installation. Projects that they have completed for us range from a 6kW swimming pool with DHW through to 17kW 3phase GSHPs, and domestic AWHP installs.
As MCS accredited installers, I have confidence in their quality of work and commitment to leave the customer with an efficient well engineered system.”
EAST MIDLANDS REGIONAL WINNER
Name: Peter Booth
Business Name: G V Booth Plumbing & Heating
Gas Safety Number: 81126
Project: Just Me
Technicality: I feel like my approach to plumbing and heating is not about making money, but about my love for the trade and being seen as a good professional plumber.
I don’t see a job as a way of getting paid but as a way of getting over a problem, or giving a customer what they want.
I love being the one to deliver heating and hot water to a customer in need, or repairing a leak or attending to the emergency that has rocked their world.
I also take enjoyment from explaining what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and what I think they should do, whether it be a fault on a boiler all the way up to a full installation.
I like to garner information on how they use heating and water, and then recommend a system and controls to suit their lifestyle.
I’m Worcester accredited installer but will always listen to a customer who may prefer a certain brand and work with them.
I like to think I’m friendly, reliable and professional.
I take great pride in my presentation, my van and my tools and love to stand back at the end of the day and admire a good job done. I love straight pipes and a nice neat, functional installation.
There are many examples of my work on my Twitter page, I love showing a good installation that I have completed as much as I love seeing and learning from others I follow and interact with
Professionalism: I go on numerous training courses to keep up to date with products and qualifications.
This year I did the Worcester Greenstar training, the Worcester Accredited Installer Training and a technical day at Spirotech, I also attended InstallerLive and Phex. I love to meet my peers and discuss new products at trade shows I like to think I’m known locally for my expertise and love for the job, as well as being a proud third generation plumber
Service: My Twitter account @pbplumber is a way for me to express my love for the trade and interact with other plumbers and the company’s we all use on a daily basis.
I’ve used my Twitter influence to get recognition for those of us in the industry that really care about doing a good job and being knowledgeable about all aspects of the industry to name a few examples:
I was founding member of an initiative to get recognition for on the tools engineers opinion of how the gas industry is policed during gas safety week, this was called the Gas Safe Superheroes campaign. It gained a lot of support and coverage I gave away a tool kit to a plumbing apprentice purely off the back of my love for the trade and wanting to encourage the future generation I ran a poll about technical call backs from boiler company’s and used the results to make a change, a number of leading manufacturers immediately implemented my idea into their policy I was chosen as Worcester Bosch face of the trade and did a video for their latest campaign I have been in numerous trade publications this year due to my Twitter influence and I think it’s helped bring attention to tradesman like myself who love the job.
“Hi there, my names Matthew Moore, I’m 19 from the Isle of Man and I’m a second year apprentice plumber. I’m writing to you today to give my testimonial about Peter Booth who ran a competition via Twitter which had a huge positive influence on my career in plumbing. Peter ran a competition for £200 worth of tools and to enter all he asked was for the reason you became interested in a career in plumbing. My grandad was a plumber for 40+ years and he loved it and this made me want to be a plumber, so I entered Peters competition and told him my reasons for choosing a career in plumbing, I never expected to win but as an apprentice on low pay £200 worth of tools is something most apprentices would take months or even years to collect. Peter messaged me shortly after to tell me I had won and I couldn’t believe it as my tool bag consisted of my grandads old Bahco spanners and a few other tools he had passed down to me. The tools gave me a massive confidence boost and enabled me to become better on site and in college, it’s crazy how much one small act of kindness can affect a young lad starting out in his career! Since then I started a new job with the government and I’m excelling both at work and in college and this is partly down to Peter, not only did he give me these tools for free including posting them to the Isle of Man, but he also keeps in touch with regular updates on how I’m getting on and I know if I ever need any advice whether that’s as an apprentice or a few years down the line when I’m a qualified plumber I know I can message Peter and rely on him for his advice and experience. All in all not only is Peter a great plumber, but he’s also a great guy who’s made a positive influence in my plumbing career and when I qualify I intend to do the same for another young apprentice. Please take this into consideration for Peter Booth for Heating Installer of the year.
“I would like to nominate Peter Booth (@pbplumber) for his exceptional service to the Plumbing and Heating Industry. I have never met Peter nor do I know him personally. I am a Plumbing Lecturer at Reading College and very passionate about the industry and always get my students to strive to be the best. So it was great to see on Twitter someone like Peter who is equally passionate about the industry and someone who on a daily basis encourages, supports and motivates plumbers to improve their standards and love their job. Peter contacted me via twitter to see what he could do to help inspire the next generation of industry leaders and innovators. Together we decided to hold an in-house competition where students had to design household utensils out of 750mm copper and a maximum of 10 fittings. Peter then decided that the three in house winners would then enter his “Twitter Competition” to win a 240V SDS Bosch Drill. This was a phenomenal gesture from someone we had never met. Our students were completely enthralled and I have never seen them so enthused and focused. We dedicated three weeks for the students to design and create their copper project. For the three weeks attendance was 100% across all three partaking full time level 1 classes, students even came in on non-college days (this has never happened before) to work on their projects and practice their soldering skills.
Outside of the Reading College Plumbing Department very few are aware of what we do here and how differently and creatively we train our students. Peter’s Twitter competition allowed the industry and indeed the general public to see the wonderful things we do in here. Plumbers from all over the UK, Europe and indeed America voted and commented on the photos, over 8,000 people saw the competition tweet. This was amazing to have our work displayed to such a huge and relevant audience. Since the competition a lot of plumbing manufacturers and merchants have contacted me directly to come to the college and speak to our students. This again is very beneficial for our students as they get to see the latest products and information directly. This will make our students more motivated in their studies and their chosen career. None of this could have been achieved without Pete going above and beyond and providing a platform for our students to showcase their skills. Reading College will be forever indebted to Pete and we wish that the other departments in construction i.e. carpentry, brick, plastering, painting & decorating had someone as influential in their field supporting them.”
“Peter Booth is an up and coming star in the plumbing and Heating industry, what he doesn’t know about heating it’s not worth knowing.
Peter Booth not only knows all there is to know about plumbing but he knows all there is to know about the plumbing trades tools, from his very professional looking van and tools to the great quality in work he provides, plumbers love this guy, he’s the face of the industry and deserves this award.
Peter Booth not only loves to give advice on tools but he’s always there for advice to his customers and to his trade friends, I called Peter for help getting in to the gas industry after chatting on Twitter and he was more than happy to help now he’s helping me in the job I love. He is a great bloke.”
“Very happy with Peter Booth such a great guy his knowledge of the Heating and plumbing industry is above and beyond. He’s took me under his wing to help me into the industry I love.”
WEST MIDLANDS REGIONAL WINNER
Name: Stuart Woodward
Business Name: HomeServe – Walsall & Sutton
How best describes your position/role in the business? I’m employed by a company
Gas Safety Number: 180179
Trade Organisations: NICEIC and Gas Safe
Project: Engineer goes the extra mile to install voice activated smart thermostat
Technicality: In December last year, engineer Stuart Woodward from the HomeServe Walsall & Sutton franchise took a call from a homeowner in need of some help with his central heating.
As Stuart began speaking with the person on the other end of the line, he soon became aware that the customer was blind and looking for a better way to control the temperature in his home over the winter.
Stuart recalls, “He’d already spoken with some other heating firms to see if they could help him and they’d all turned him away saying that they didn’t have a solution. I was determined to help him find an answer and so I took it away and started to explore whether any of the smart thermostat devices we installcould help make life easier for a blind customer.”
HomeServe Walsall & Sutton is an approved NEST installer – one of just a handful in the UK – and Stuart began to investigate whether this particular model of smart thermostat could be the answer to the customer’s problems.
“I liaised with the team at NEST and discovered that the system has in-built voice-activation capabilities and that these are compatible with tablet and mobile devices,” added Stuart.
“By using this functionality, I knew we could set up the thermostat to be completely accessible to blind people. The customer was absolutely delighted when I called him back to let him know we’d found a solution. We arranged a fast installation date to ensure we got his device up and running as soon as possible.”
The NEST was installed just a few days later and engineers from HomeServe Walsall & Sutton spent time with the customer showing him how to control the device from his iPad.
Professionalism: We communicated with the customer daily to keep him informed of progress. We liaised with all key stakeholders, including NEST, so everyone was committed to finding the best solution for the customer. We kept our promises – we arrived on time and fitted a high quality product that was adapted specifically for our customer.
We sat with the customer to explain how the voice activation functionality worked and we didn’t leave his home until he was totally confident and comfortable using the NEST by himself.
Throughout the installation we kept the customer informed of everything we were doing and I’m pleased to say that he’s getting on very well with the new technology. We’ve left all of our contact details with the customer, so if there’s ever a problem, he knows he can call and we’ll be straight round to help.
For us, professionalism and professional development is more than training or continued education, it is also learning that occurs in the work-place, as an integral part of working. Work-based learning such as the above focuses on solving real-world problems. The time and effort invested is immediately rewarded through completing the job and gaining professional development. There’s also a lot of satisfaction to be had from making a customer happy.
Professionalism was maintained throughout the job by all involved by:
Service: Our teams work directly in customer’s homes. They respond to emergency repair requests (such as the breakdown of boilers) and provide a frontline customer call centre service to manage all queries, appointments and feedback. The continued ‘excellence in customer service’ of our engineers, customer care team and support team has strengthened our reputation and allowed us to grow regionally.
In the above scenario we were able to deliver exceptional service by:
Mrs Horncastle – boiler installation – “I felt I must write to congratulate you on having such good workmen on your team. Stuart worked tirelessly from getting here to finally leaving – very late. He didn’t even stop for a lunch break and was a very efficient and careful worker. I was very impressed as I wasn’t looking forward to having the work done at all. Friday brought Dean and Dave who also worked long hours without breaks. They left my house as tidy and clean as it could be after such an upheaval. Please pass my thanks on to them. It was a pleasure to have the job done so well.”
Mr Ellis – boiler installation – “From the first enquiry to completion within a week – that’s pretty good. The boiler fitted worked hard and did a good job. We will no doubt use HomeServe Walsall & Sutton again….and in the near future. Thank you.”
YORKSHIRE AND HUMBER REGIONAL WINNER
Name: Lee Brown
Business Name: Smart Renewable Heat Limited
How best describes your position/role in the business?: Other
Trade Organisations: Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT)
Project: Townhead & Others!
Technicality: Townhead, the former home of the Wigglesworth family, had been on English Heritage’s Register of Buildings at Risk, for more than a decade. The 16-bedroomed house in Slaidburn, which was built in 1729, remained a hidden gem since it was last used as a shooting lodge at the outbreak of the Second World War. The house has not been occupied in living memory.
Townhead’s new owner Bob Staples approached my company to specify and install renewable heating technology in the form of a very large, domestic ground source heat pump. Ground source heat pumps collect low-grade heat from an array of pipework buried underground, using a refrigeration circuit in reverse. This in turn generates the temperatures required to maintain all the heating and hot water required by a household.
This particular heat pump provides full space heating and hot water for this 1060m2 (11,780 sqft.) renovated Georgian country house as well as and swimming pool heating duty. The age and size of the building made this project particularly challenging, especially as the client wished to make use of cast iron radiators throughout the main building.
Lee designed a cascade system based on three Danfoss DHP-R 35kW heat pumps which feed a 700 litre domestic hot water cylinder and two 400 litre buffer cylinders; heat is drawn from a horizontal ground array of 3000m. He designed and installed the underfloor heating in the pool house as well as heating in the house via a traditional cast iron radiator system – the whole system works on a common flow temperature regime controlled using weather compensation.
Professionalism: Townhead is one of numerous, large heat pump installations that Lee undertakes every year having worked with renewable, heat pump technology for over 10 years.
Lee left school in 1995 and began training as an apprentice sheet metal fabricator whilst also studying general engineering and materials and processes at College. After deciding on a change of direction in his career in 2003, he re-trained as a gas and heating engineer whilst gaining on the job training with a heating installer company.
After gaining his qualifications in 2006 he was recruited by a Sheffield based heat pump company where he put his plumbing and heating skills to the test as an installation and service engineer, gaining excellent knowledge of heat pump systems by working closely with other engineers and being heavily involved with all technical aspects of domestic, large domestic and commercial heating system installations.
During his time at this company he furthered his knowledge of the systems and equipment taking advantage of manufacturer specific training and also gaining qualifications in electrics and refrigeration. He was heavily involved with troubleshooting on problematic systems.
In 2009, Lee left to start his own business, Coefficient Heating Solutions Limited which he successfully operated across the North of England for 7 years employing 3 other people. Lee specialised in installing energy efficient, heat pump technology based heating systems in remote locations, older properties and new build ‘dream homes’. In 2016 Coefficient Heating Solutions joined forces with 2 other heat pump companies based in Cornwall and Scotland to form Smart Renewable Heat Limited, a UK national company offering professional, highly skilled and trained installations of heat pumps and employing 27 people.
Lee is a passionate supporter of renewable heating technology and holds many industry standard qualifications and manufacturer specific completed training courses. The company is a member of the MCS and NAPIT trade schemes.
Service: Lee built his business based on providing exceptional service to clients which he continues to do with Smart Renewable Heat.
The Townhead project delivered a number of challenges for Lee, not least using a range of traditional cast iron radiators to minimise the use of modern systems not designed for, or in keeping with the aesthetics of the period property, whilst integrating with a very modern ground source heating system and still maximising efficiency.
Heat Pump installation is more than a ‘fit and fire’ technology. Customers installing this kind of system are usually renovating or building their dream home and Lee is involved at every step; from initially reviewing the plans, to getting involved with architects and adapting systems to the home owners changing requirements.
As heat pump technology is more energy efficient than oil-fired or traditional gas-boilers and providing customers with cost/benefit analysis, details of Government subsidies and heating bill savings is all part of the exceptional service Lee provides based on his in-depth and professional understanding of what the technology can achieve.
But just being on the job in remote locations can prove a challenge – a key component of a ground source system is the ground loop system, an enormous length of tubing buried underground in either tranches, bore holes or waterways and Lee can as often be found up to knees in a muddy trench or river bed and has been attacked by ducks and bitten by dogs in his pursuit of customer happiness.
On one call-out, to service a fault, the road had been closed due to snow; undeterred Lee loaded his equipment onto the back of a tractor and made his way over the fields to the customer’s house. He often works away from home for long periods, does late nights, early morning and weekends – there is no-one more dedicated to providing exceptional service.
Happy Customers: “We are pleased to recommend the team to our clients, present and future. We have successfully worked with your company and the engineers on site worked professionally and promptly. The installation was efficient, neat and tidy. They always responded to problems or queries quickly and professionally.”
“Totally painless, and worked the moment it turned on in November. It costs a lot less than paying for the smelly oil tank to be filled in the garden. I love watching the neighbours’ heating oil deliveries arriving now, and listening to how oil prices rise… We are lovely and warm, and you just don’t worry about leaving the heating on anymore! Thanks Guys!”
EAST OF ENGLAND REGIONAL WINNER
Name: Mark Partridge
Business Name: Bright Green Renewables Ltd
Trade Organisations: MCS, RECC, NAPIT, REFCOM
Project: Flint Hall Renewable Energy Heating System
Technicality: Having purchased an almost completed new-build country mansion in Warwickshire, our client asked Bright Green to install a 10KW, 32-panel ground-mounted Solar PV array to help support the electricity demands of such a large house. During the installation a tour of the property identified that UFH was installed throughout the ground floor and in all bathrooms. This was supplemented by 33 individual radiators on a separate circuit spanning three floors.
The heating plant room was already being configured and the plan was to install an 85KW LPG boiler for the heating circuits. A 20KW LPG boiler had been temporarily connected into the UFH circuits to dry the concrete screed. Bright Green commented that an 85KW LPG boiler appeared to be oversized and suggested installing a renewable energy heating system as a greener and far more cost-effective alternative. The customer was extremely sceptical at this proposition and Bright Green therefore offered to conduct a comprehensive room-by-room heat loss assessment to determine the thermal performance of the property. The result was that at a design condition of -4DegC, and with all 39 rooms (including an indoor swimming pool) at their design temperature, the heat loss was actually only 21KW, i.e. the proposed LPG system was 400% oversized.
Bright Green offered to provide a no obligation design proposal to heat the whole house using a single 16KW high temperature heat pump and to retain the small LPG boiler to provide additional capacity. In the resulting “bivalent” system the outputs from the heat pump and LPG boiler are combined and independently pumped into the UFH and radiator circuits. The renewable heat produced is measured by a heat meter.
The system was installed in late 2016 and has run perfectly ever since. The client also receives a significant payback via a quarterly Renewable Heat Incentive Payments.
Professionalism: Bright Green was introduced to the project at a very late stage in the build. As such, we had to work around numerous tradesmen on site and take into account their activities and the impact of these from our work. The flooring company required the hardwood floors to be laid on a concrete screed that was totally dry. As such, Bright Green prioritised their work to ensure that the related UFH zones were commissioned first to facilitate the hardwood flooring works.
As part of Bright Green’s work scope they also agreed to design and install the domestic hot water system. Shortly after work started it was clear that the kitchen and bathroom installers required “live” hot and cold supplies to every outlet to allow them to sign-off the 11 bathrooms, a huge kitchen/diner and the utility room. This was therefore prioritised next on Bright Green’s work schedule and completed in time for all of the bathrooms to be signed-off to schedule.
As the property sometimes had low occupancy, Bright Green proposed substituting the proposed 600L hot water cylinder with two 300L cylinders, and to configure the domestic hot water system so that one of the tanks could be turned off. This resulted in significant energy savings. The second “slave” tank can be activated with a single switch when additional capacity is required.
Throughout the design, installation and commissioning processes the customer was kept fully informed about progress – along with any ongoing specification changes that might improve system operation and functionality. As and when these were tabled and agreed to, e.g. independent time and temperature control for the radiator circuits on the three floors, the required changes were integrated seamlessly into the installation schedule with minimal disruption to the other trades.
Service: After first proposing the installation of a heating system having only 25% the capacity of the originally proposed LPG system, the client was understandably sceptical. In order to reassure him, Bright Green offered to undertake a complete room-by-room thermal analysis in order to demonstrate the performance of the proposed system. This was undertaken free-of-charge and with no obligation. The resulting report was presented to the client to help allay any concerns regarding the performance of the proposed bivalent system. It included the design temperatures in all rooms, the associated energy losses, and the required emitter specifications to meet the heating load. He was also referred to other customers where similar systems had been installed to allow him to obtain independent feedback regarding their performance, along with Bright Green’s design, installation & commissioning services. In keeping with the exceptional quality of the fixtures and fittings around the property, Bright Green wanted to ensure that the plant room matched this quality. When completed even the client commented that the plant room was a “work-of-art”. A true testament to Bright Green’s overriding ethos of “quality in everything we do”.
Once fully set-up and commissioned the system was left to run over a December weekend to increase the internal temperature of the property in preparation for the carpet fitters. This was the first real test of the system. When Bright Green’s Installation Manager visited on Monday morning he could see before he opened the door that the system was working well. It was a frosty morning but most of the windows were open! The carpets fitters were finding it impossible to work in the high temperatures (25DegC+) and one was even stripped to the waist as he was so hot! Proof if proof were needed that Bright Green’s design calculations were spot-on…
Happy Customers: “Having purchased a large, new-build country manor with the majority of the internal fixtures and fittings still to be chosen, fundamental revisions to the already-specified central heating and hot water systems were not really a consideration. However, the Bright Green team were convinced that the proposed heating system was over-specified, would be inefficient and costly to run, and would require frequent (and increasingly expensive) LPG gas deliveries – with the ever-present risk of running out. They were also convinced that as we had already installed 10KW of Solar PV capacity, the property would benefit from an electrically-powered heating system to help benefit from the “free” electricity. I was aware of heat pumps but didn’t believe that they would be suitable for a property of this size. I was also aware that ground source systems required major grounds works, but this wasn’t an option as the gardens were already landscaped. When an air source system was proposed I was initially unwilling to believe that it could provide all of our central heating requirements, especially during the depths of winter. When it was explained that the same system design had already been successfully installed into many properties, and the facts and figures were presented to me, I was willing to accept their recommendation and agreed to the installation of a Daikin High Temperature air source heat pump supported by a small LPG boiler. We moved into the property in late November 2016 and the system has been running faultlessly ever since. The property is comfortably warm with plenty of hot water for baths and showers. An added advantage is the quarterly RHI payments we receive, which help pay towards the running costs of the system. We will receive these for 7 years. We are very pleased with the finished system – and it proves that if sound engineering principles are applied to the design of a complex heating system, and then coupled with innovative renewable energy technologies, the results can be excellent.”
WALES REGIONAL WINNER
Name: Garry Lloyd
Business Name: Blue Flame Gas Solutions Ltd
Gas Safety Number: 572505
Trade Organisations: Gas Safe, Which? Safe Contractor, ConstructionLine, Vaillant and Worcester Accredited
Project: Upgrade solid fuel to gas central heating
Technicality: I was contacted by a Mr Geraint Tarling for a quote at his elderly mother’s home address in Tonyrefail. Mr Tarling voiced his concerns from the start due to him living over 200 miles away in Cambridge. He wanted a system to be installed that was more efficient and user friendly for his mother as she was struggling to manage the upkeep, and ever more difficult task of carrying the coals to keep the system functioning and hence the property warm.
The work involved was complex in many ways, it was an older property with a vulnerable customer whom lived alone so I wanted to minimise disruption whilst carrying out the works.
I had to fully re-pipe the existing gravity set-up over to a fully pumped system and re-configure the pipework to suit. Additionally, we replaced the old cylinder with a more modern and energy efficient Gledhill stainless steel cylinder. We had to carry out a full re-wire of the central heating controls in the airing cupboard to suit the new set-up. This included new programmer, room thermostat, cylinder thermostat, zone valves all wired via a central junction box.
Prior to any of this work being undertaken we had the difficult task of removing the old Trianco coal boiler which was very heavy, cumbersome and awkward.
The new installation of the gas boiler was in the same location with new pipework and a new gas supply pipe run from the newly fitted external gas meter.
Professionalism: As mentioned above, after the initial contact with Mr Tarling his main concern remained his mother and the distance between them both. He needed a reliable and professional team to carry out the work. Another concern was the ease of use of a newly installed system; I was able to provide detailed knowledge of the best system and controls that would best suit his mother needs so keeping them simple was essential for all involved. Once I had visited the property we had many lengthy conversations regarding the best system and set-up to suit his mother needs and the property itself.
I spent time with his mother and reassured her that we would make the installation as free from distribution as possible and that once completed she would have nothing more to be worry about moving forward. The new system was very easy to use and would make her life so much simpler than the days of struggling with coal.
Service: We set installation dates to fit around and accommodate the customers needs as far as possible, and both Mr Tarling and his mother where more than happy with this. The feedback they had received from the initial contact to know they were in safe hands and the work would be completed to their complete satisfaction.
I will always put customers first and always go above and beyond to make sure my customers are happy in every single way.
I think the kind reference form Mr Tarling says everything really of how I approach my work and customer service. It gives me great satisfaction knowing that Mrs Tarling feels this way of me and the service I try to achieve every day. Every customer is treated in this manner but in particular the elderly and vulnerable as we really in the winter months are as important as the emergency services, as without central heating for any period of time could be very damaging for them.
SCOTLAND REGIONAL WINNER
Name: Scott Murray
Business Name: McInnes Group Ltd
Gas Safety Number: 519297
Trade Organisations: SNIPEF, Oftec, Benchmark, RECC, Gas Safe
Project: Blackcraig Castle
Technicality: Blackcraig Castle, in Blairgowrie in Highland Perthshire was not only a hugely exciting project for us to be involved with, but it was also extremely challenging. The property is in a rural area and is a 16th century grade B listed castle. It was bought as a family home but also included two on-site flats to be rented out as holiday lets.
The castle is based across five floors and has 10 bedrooms, numerous public rooms, bathrooms and an observatory as well as two self-contained two bedroomed flats.
There was much to consider with this project, including the age and size of the castle, which meant we had to think out with traditional approaches to heating installation and be sympathetic in design to the ancient building, as it has protected status. It was important throughout this project to ensure that any renovations undertaken still maintained the character of the castle as well as providing modern facilities.
Set within 30 acres of woodland, the site was remote (a 30-minute drive from the nearest town) and the castle was derelict.
As with any B listed building we were faced with many difficulties, from the structure itself to working within the parameters set out by Historic Scotland.
A large stone building with limited insulation, traditional lath and plaster internal walls and the non-traditional layout with attics and turret rooms proved challenging to install an energy efficient wet system.
As the building was for multiple use, we had to ensure that the new heating and hot water system reflected that.
Professionalism: John Thompson, owner, initially made enquiries with manufacturers of biomass boilers and was sent our details with a recommendation that we were a top quality heating installer.
When installing biomass boilers we are very particular in the materials and boilers we install. There is a multitude of biomass boilers on the market and at the height of the boom the market was flooded. However buying some cheaper boilers can sometimes be a false economy in terms of their reliability, quality of product and quality of after service.
We predominantly work with Windhager Boilers, which have been installed here. We have consistently found these boilers to be of an extremely high quality and in general our customers have met with very few problems with these types of boilers.
In this project we installed two 60kw boilers. We always recommend this when installing into a guesthouse, B&B or a hotel so there is always a backup. This will ensure that the heating and hot water system will not fail if there are any issues with the first boiler and importantly for the owner there would be no loss of earnings or issues with having to refund guests any money back due to the inconvenience.
Prior to winning the project, we met with John and his lead architect on site to discuss the project and work through the options. We were successful in winning this contract above other more local contractors due to our reputation and professionalism, despite being based over 100 miles away.
Service: This was an unusual project, which posed many challenges for us. However we feel thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff we were able to overcome these.
Importantly we spent a lot of time with the customer to establish exactly what he wanted from the project and ultimately our goal was to ensure that he was happy with the end result, as if this is not the case we feel we will have failed in our main objective.
Meeting with the customer on site, we were able to sit down and design a system with a number of options. Many similar companies were unable to provide a quote, as the project was so unique.
As the castle was in a state of disrepair it was also vital that we were able to conduct a good working relationship with other contractors to ensure the timetable was kept to.
Our client customer relationships are of the utmost value to us. Our excellent reputation is what we are built on and we always strive to ensure we do all we possibly can to make a project a success.
Renewable energy is also something that is extremely important to our company and it is something we always give a large amount of consideration to in all our work. For this project we were able to work with the customer to apply for Renewable Heat Incentives, which included supporting the application process.
We feel despite the difficulties we encountered with this particular project it was also extremely rewarding. Perhaps what is most rewarding is the fact that the customer was like ourselves, delighted with the end result which has ensured that the castle is now a well heated and energy efficient family home and holiday let business.
Happy Customers: “We purchased Blackcraig Castle in 2013, with the intention of completely renovating the building. The project was a huge undertaking, restoring the building to its former glory and making it suitable for modern day living.
As the castle was to be restored into a family home the project was a labour of love, so I was keen to ensure I had the right tradesmen. We required a heating installer who would be able to take this unique project in their stride and ensure the job was done to the highest possible standards.
Through investigation of the various technologies suitable for heating the castle, I was signposted to the McInnes Group.
From the outset I was very impressed by the firm’s approach to the project, which was extremely professional but also very personable. They ensured that each step of the project was explained to us in detail, as well as giving us the opportunity to add our own input.
They were able to come up with a design for a heating system for the entire building, which met all the criteria. It included using a renewable energy system and a backup. The McInnes Group highlighted the importance of installing two boilers so in the event of one breaking down or a service being required we would have the other, causing no interruption or loss of earnings to the flats which were designed as holiday lets.
We now have a modern efficient heating system, which we are extremely happy with and was achieved with the excellent service received from the McInnes Group.
I would have no hesitation in using them again or recommending them to anyone looking for a heating installer who is prepared to go the extra mile to ensure you get value for money and the best possible result.”
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