SAVINGS from a family’s heating bills funded a dream holiday in Spain thanks to a new renewable energy system.

The Pearce family, of Enstone, near Chipping Norton, took a £950 holiday paid for with savings made on their energy bills after having a new energy-saving air pump system installed.

The environmentally-friendly device uses naturally occuring heat from the air to warm the home and provide hot water.

The equipment, called an air source heat pump, has dramatically lowered the cost of heating the family’s three-bedroom home and meant Mark and Hayley Pearce could repay their outstanding electricity bills.

Mr and Mrs Pearce were also able to take their two children, Amber, eight, and James, 10, to Torremolinos in Spain.

Mrs Pearce, 38, said: “This is the first trip abroad that we’ve been able to take as a family and the kids were thrilled to bits.”

Two years ago, the Cottsway Housing Association tenants had accumulated a £1,000 bill with Southern Electric.

The couple then had the new heating system installed by Cottsway to replace the old electric storage heaters and solid fuel open fire in the lounge.

Before the new heating system, they spent £1,137 a year on electricity bills and solid fuel.

The house is not on the gas network and the storage heaters and coal fire gave it a carbon footprint of nine tonnes of CO2 a year.

Costs are now down to £384 for the heating and the carbon footprint has dropped to 3.2 tonnes.

The housing association has installed air source heat pumps to replace storage and convector heaters and solid fuel fires in some of its houses.

Cottsway spokesman Gary Salter said: “We knew we would see a cut in fuel bills for our tenants but this has even surprised us.”

The ‘Ecodan’ air source heat pump operates on a small amount of electricity. It works effectively in temperatures below -15C.

Thousands of homes in Scandinavia have similar technology and it is being promoted and bought by UK energy suppliers.

Mr Salter added: “It’s very simple to install and operate, and will work with conventional radiators like those in most homes heated by gas central heating.

“We are delighted with the results from all of the Ecodan systems we have installed to date.”

Mr Pearce, 35, said: “No one relishes paying a large bill for heating and hot water. But you do want a reliable system to provide heat when you need it.

“We love it, and since it relies on a neat box outside the home it even takes up less space than a boiler or storage heaters.”

Renewable energy specialists Ecovision, based in Gloucestershire, said the devices were increasingly being installed by housing associations and developers. For an average two-three bedroom house, they cost £5,000 to £6,000 to buy and install.