Alpaca Farm with five star holiday cottage reaps rewards of Renewable Heat Incentive and boosts green credentials

Biomass turns Devon farmer's 1,000-a-month bills into 900-a-month income

Contributed by | SunGift Solar

An Alpaca farmer who also runs a luxury holiday cottage near Illfracombe has just drastically boosted his green credentials while reducing his heating bills and generating a significant amount of additional income.

Alpaca farmer Simon Brookes, who rents out his five-star High View Farmhouse, had been spending £12,000 a year on fuel for his oil boiler, so when he discovered that a woodchip boiler using renewable fuel could reduce his bills by half and provide him with government payments of more than £10,000 per year he was delighted.

Installed by Devon renewable energy experts SunGift Energy, the 80 kW woodchip boiler is an exceptional investment, as it has an outstanding payback period.

Boost for holiday home’s green credentials

“Fuel for my oil boiler had been costing me up to £1,000 per month,” added Simon.  “This was a huge running cost for my business – so switching to biomass has made an enormous difference to my finances. The woodchip costs half the amount of oil and on top of that I’m receiving almost £900 per from the government’s renewable heat incentive.  Using renewable energy is also a tremendous boost to our green credentials.”

Simon rents out the five star farmhouse to holiday makers, which includes six bedrooms, a luxury hot tub and a 15-meter indoor swimming pool that is accessible from the master bedroom. He also runs a working alpaca farm.

After carrying out majority of the holiday cottage’s renovations himself and thoroughly insulating it Simon discovered that the house still required a huge amount of heating, so he contacted SunGift Energy who suggested an 80 kW woodchip boiler.

“Renovating the house has been a huge but rewarding process for me,” said Simon. “I was proud of the modernisation I’d carried out and the high-quality finish of all of the rooms, but – as the house is built into a hill – I was disappointed that the temperature remained at 13-14 degrees throughout the year.  However, since my biomass boiler has been installed, the rooms no longer get cold.”

The attractive Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments mean that Simon’s boiler will provide an excellent return on his investment.  This makes it a good solution for any business that has a high heat demand or that is looking to upgrade its boiler.

Before contacting SunGift, Simon was slightly apprehensive about a company carrying out work for him, particularly as he had carried out all previous house renovations himself and has exceptionally high standards.  “Often trades people don’t live up to expectations, but Sungift’s specialists did an exceptional job.  They carried out a smooth installation, tied up all the loose ends, and have been ultra-responsive to any requests that I’ve sent their way.

Mike Castle, SunGift’s head biomass engineer, who has more than 150 biomass installations under his belt, said: “The commercial renewable heat incentive is an excellent way for any business, particularly holiday cottages, to secure their energy future, lower their fuel bills and have an additional revenue stream. 

“From woodchip and pellet boilers to those fuelled by logs, they all give exceptionally high returns on investment, as the boilers are paid off in just a few years and the RHI payments continue for 20 years.  This makes them a very attractive proposition for businesses – particularly those that are currently thinking of upgrading their current oil boilers.

About SunGift Solar

SunGift Solar is a renewable energy specialist that offers a personal design service and tailored systems to meet its customers’ exact requirements.  It fits a whole range of renewable energy technologies – from solar panels and heat pumps to biomass boilers and small wind turbines.

Formed in 2005 by owner Gabriel Wondrausch, the friendly Exeter-based company employs 30 members of staff, and was one of the first installers in Devon to be accredited to the government’s Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). SunGift has completed more than 1,500 renewable energy projects and is acclaimed by the industry, winning the 2011 and 2009 South West Green Energy Award for Renewable Energy Installer or Supplier of the Year, and finishing runner up in the same category in 2010 and 2012. SunGift is also the top ranked installer in the UK, on the independent website, which ranks companies based on customer feedback.

Using the highest-quality systems is an important part of SunGift Solar’s philosophy, and it constantly strives to use the latest, cutting-edge equipment, combined with the highest standards of workmanship.

For further information contact SunGift Solar on 01392 213912, or visit


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