Self-builds are becoming more and more popular in Northern Ireland. The ability to build an energy-efficient home has become a huge consideration to ensure self-build homes are future-proofed. 


With renewable energy prices falling and incentives to go green, there has never been a better time to invest in carbon-neutral technologies. It’s also worth noting that the UK government has agreed that gas boilers will be prohibited in all new build homes after 2025. The government’s “future homes standard” will require low-carbon systems, such as heat pumps, in all new construction. New homes built after this year are expected to achieve a 31% reduction in carbon emissions, ensuring the industry is ready to meet the new standards by 2025.


Air Source Heat Pump

The most common heat pump in NI is the Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP). ASHP absorbs heat from the outside air and converts it into a low-temperature liquid refrigerant. The pump then compresses the liquid to raise its temperature through the use of electricity. 

It then condenses back into a liquid to release the heat it has stored. They use a wet central heating system to distribute heat and work much more efficiently at lower temperatures than a standard boiler system. As a result, they are better suited for underfloor heating systems or larger radiators that provide heat at lower temperatures over longer periods of time. Even in temperatures as low as -15° Celsius, ASHPs can extract heat!


An air-source heat pump is best installed outside, preferably at the back or side of your home, in a sunny location. They require good airflow to work efficiently because they draw air in through the sides and back of the unit and then allow cold air to exit from the front once the heat has been extracted. You’ll also need to consider how much space you’ll need indoors for the compressor and a hot water cylinder.


Solar Panels

Solar panels use the sun’s energy to generate electricity and require only daylight to operate, rather than direct sunlight. They work best on a south-facing roof with a pitch angle of 30 to 40 degrees. Panels can be installed on a flat roof or on a ground frame, but a sloping roof is usually the simplest. Though facing south is ideal, any direction between east and west is possible. When designing your self-build, make sure that your solar panel system is not going to be overshadowed by trees or other structures, as this will reduce the performance of your system. Solar PV is now more affordable than ever and can be used in conjunction with an air source heat pump.