Autumn is just around the corner and thoughts turn to heating – and even better heating that doesn’t cost much.
A couple of years ago I wrote about the trend towards using heat pumps (pompe a chaleur) as an alternative to ‘conventional’ heating – in principle a great idea since it extracts heat from the air outside and uses it to heat your property. It is supposed to save lots of money and be better for the environment as well, so must be a good thing right?
Another energy efficient product that gets promoted a lot in France is photovoltaic panels. You stick 20 square metres of the panels on a south facing roof, get a tax rebate towards part of the cost and sell electricity at a large profit to EDF. Another great opportunity?
According to numerous telephone salesmen both are unmissable bargains, but the strange thing is it is hard to find people who have actually implemented either of these systems and are actually pleased with the results – meanwhile there are numerous news reports about the problems, typically relating to workmen installing the equipment without the necessary technical skills, so it doesn’t work efficiently (or at all), and extortionate electricity bills far outweighing all the benefits.
Something that might be useful if you are considering one of these systems is an ‘official’ site I came across that attempts to ensure that people only get properly working installations from builders with the necessary experience. Should be invaluable to anyone in France getting one of these systems installed, and they have a directory of approved installers – see qualipv (for photovoltaic systems) and qualipac (for pompes a chaleur).
It’s also worth asking for a reference from a previous contented client when you are handing across so much money, and remember to check the SIRET number on the devis (or ask for it if it’s not shown) so you can be sure the builder is registered and the work is guaranteed for 10 years.
See also the comments below the original post – there are some very informative comments and also useful links to reports about system efficiency and how to maximise efficiency: see post and comments at pompe a chaleur
Meanwhile, it would be great to hear a success story from someone who has had one of these systems installed (ideally before last winter for a PAC) and is very pleased they did – either because of the cheap heating they now have (without a great big electricity bill following behind), or because of the big cheques they are receiving from EDF for selling surplus electricity.
… and if you are being hassled by the number of salesmen that ring you trying to sell you these products, just tell them that you plan to move house in the next 12 months – even the most enthusiastic salesmen knows they can’t justify the cost for someone who isn’t staying put