Get your free hot water tanks here!

The people of Chiswick are being offered new, state of the art, energy efficient hot water tanks for free plus a sum of money for the installation. What’s the catch? I haven’t discovered one yet, it looks pretty kosher to me. The Eden Project in Cornwall is behind the scheme. Apart from being a lovely place to visit on holiday, the Eden Project is an educational charity which promotes sustainable living, and as such has a grant from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial strategy to promote the new tank. The aim of the exercise is for us all to use more energy efficient systems and reduce the amount of energy we use.

We get to be guinea pigs because so far they have only installed the tanks in 40 or so properties in Cornwall and they now want to try them in a range of different types of house in London. Their partners in this venture at the hot and steamy end are Chiswick based plumbers My Plumber, who won the contract for the job. The tank, called a ‘Mixergy’ tank is described as an intelligent hot water system, made by a company which is an offshoot of the University of Oxford’s Energy and Power Group. The co-founders, Pete Armstrong and Ren Kang, met while doing their PhDs.

In a typical UK household, heating and hot water make up half of the energy bill. A conventional hot water tank heats all or nothing, wastefully heating more water than we need. The tank they have developed works in a fundamentally different way. It ‘floats’ hot water on top of cold, so you don’t have to heat the whole tank, you only heat as much as you need. It also reheats to a usable temperature five times faster than a conventional tank. Not only that but the Mixergy tank connects to the internet to allow remote control from your phone and smart control from the Mixergy server to save energy. They’re also planning on using these tanks as a way of adding renewable energy capacity to the national grid.

For more on the technical stuff, have a look at the Mixergy website – mixergy.co.uk

As this is all so new, the Government has made funding available to give the tanks to households for free and to meet installation costs more or less. My Plumber will come and do a site survey and provide the PETE project (Power, Energy, Technology, Efficiency) and the householder with an installation estimate. In most cases the money available for installation should cover the cost, but houses vary, so they hesitate to say it will. There may be something to pay. But you end up with a much more energy efficient water tank which should save you money and which can be used with gas, electric or solar powered heating systems and with the existing controls.

To find out more about how you might get your hands on one, email askpete@peteproject.com or ring 01726 811911 and ask for the Pete Project. But hurry while stocks last! They’re looking for only 30 or so households to take part.

Photographs – The Eden Project and the PETE Project team