Heat Pump Tips in preparation for the healthy home heating standards

With the new Healthy Homes heating requirements implementation creeping ever closer, we thought it was time to sit down with an expert in the field to find out the details on what this really means for landlords. We got in touch with heating and cooling guru, Tim Fawdray of Varcoe Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps, who has been in the business for over 25 years, to get his thoughts on the best strategy when considering heating options for your rental property.

What are your thoughts around the Healthy Homes requirement to heat properties to 18 degrees?
While I understand that landlords won’t be thrilled with the expense, the health benefits of heating a home for the residents are clear and indisputable. It can also prevent dampness and mould damage to the property over time.

How can one determine the most cost-effective heating options for their property?
There are government websites that provide neutral input as to the costs and efficiencies of various sources side-by-side.This includes gas heating, electric heaters, heat pumps and more. Reviewing this information heat pumps come out as the most cost effective and efficient heating option.

Why do you think, overall, that a heat pump is a better option than an electrical unit?
Well, from an efficiency standpoint and what you will see on your electric bill, heat pumps are cheaper to operate. Also, they have filtration systems that are lacking in electric models that help to keep the air more pristine. Finally, safety is a factor. Electric units can fall over and even catch fire if they are not paid attention to while they are turned on. This is especially true if you have kids or pets.

What are important considerations to keep in mind about installation?
It cannot be overstated that placement is everything when considering how warm a room will get. Consider where you sit the most during your time in the room and any possible drafts. Also, you need to consider the right size of the model. Going too big or too small can cause it to not operate at peak performance and can also ramp up your power costs. This is why contacting a professional as soon as possible is critical.

As a professional, what do you see as a challenge with heat pumps?
Frankly, for us, it’s communicating how they work to people who do not know much about the topic or haven't given it much thought. There is a lot of science and engineering that goes into what people think is a relatively simple machine. Over time though, we have nailed the verbiage in how to talk to customers in a way that is friendly and not overwhelming.  Communicating that in truth going the cheapest route at the outset can be costly in the long run is often something people don’t really want to hear. But, it’s often true.

What do you see on the horizon for innovations in this space?
There are really cool models that have smart sensors that scan the room and adjust accordingly. It can sense cold and hot spots and whether there are people in the room and then can make changes to its heating strategy on the fly to keep people at the ideal temperature that they have programmed.

What do landlords need to know about the timing of installing heating solutions with regard to Healthy Homes?  Do you anticipate a shortage?
Who knows?  We can, however, look to what happened in New Zealand with regard to pink installation as there was simply not enough to go around as the compliance dates approached. I can tell you though that it is very unlikely that they will get any cheaper than they are now. In fact, prices could rise significantly as demand increases. It is better to act sooner than later. Timing-wise, the sooner landlords start, the better and the lesser the risk of a shortage of heating options. 

As you know Kiwis love a good home improvement project. Is installing a heat pump a good DIY project?
No, no, no - NO!  I am not just saying that because I would like landlords to hire me or my company. There are a number of reasons why it is a terrible idea to go it on your own. First, you need special tools that most people would not have to properly get the unit in place with access to the outside. Next, these units involve high-pressure refrigeration that can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.Third, installing it by yourself can compromise the life span of the machine and negate its warranty. Finally, the electrical component needs to be done by a certified electrician for safety purposes just as the connection of the pipes needs to be done by qualified tradesperson (preferably a certified refrigeration engineer)

What do landlords need to know when looking for the right company to work with?
Know that not all companies demand the same amount of training. You can do a short two-day course and be certified in heating and cooling. However, these quick grads rarely have any hands-on expertise. Make certain that the professional and his staff have completed the appropriate trade training for instance, the refrigeration apprentices in my company have shadowed seasoned trade experts for a minimum of two years before being allowed to be on their own in a client’s home.Don’t be afraid to ask about credentials and evidence of the trade experience. 

Is there anything that you would like to add?
Installing a heat pump before the deadline and the next cold spell can greatly improve and maintain good tenant and landlord relationships. Your tenants may be willing to sign-on for longer if they are happy, warm and dry in their current accommodation.  They will notice if you are being proactive.

Why did you want to work specifically with Barfoot & Thompson’s rental portfolio?
We want to work with the best products and the best brands in the business. This company certainly ticks the boxes for a great reputation.

Varcoe Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps has been around for over 44 yrs with Tim Fawdray being the owner for over 25 years. Tim and his staff can provide top-notch, professional and honest service with expert advice you may be seeking about your property.

Looking for further assistance or advice?

Contact one of our property managers