Ground Source Heat Pump

Introduction to Our Eco House – Part 1 – Ground Source Heat Pump

After several months designing and building our eco home, we’re starting to see some real progress.

We decided that an old poorly insulation bungalow in Purleigh near Maldon in Essex would be a great opportunity to demonstrate all the services/product we provide in one place. The original bungalow was demolished, leaving only the foundations. These foundations were extended to form the base of our new building.

Ground Source Heat Pump Trenches It was decided that a ground source heat pump installation would suit the house best. The reason for this is that the building will be well insulated, underfloor heating will be fitted and the garden is large. Firstly we dug trenches 1.2 metres deep in the garden and laid our pipework. We decided to opt for a horizontal array, but if you’re tight for space or don’t want to dig your garden, then a borehole may suit you better.

For more information on our ground source heat pump installations visit the ground source heat pump section of our site

The heat pump used is a Vaillant 6kW Geotherm, this is able to generate approximately 4kW to heat the house for every 1kW used.

We then constructed a small shed to house the heat pump itself and a buffer tank. These can be located within the house, but as we have a large garden we decided to save space in the house. The ground source heat pump is a great way of using the natural warmth of the ground (which doesn’t fall below 5⁰C even during winter) to heat your home. The set-up will also provide a large part of the hot water requirements. The heat pump can provide 100% of the required hot water, but we’re also installing solar thermal.

Ground Source Heat PumpThe ground source heat pump is eligible for the Renewable Heat Premium Payment, which provided a £1,250 payment from the government after installation. Also, starting next spring we’ll be able to claim for the Renewable Heating Incentive, which will pay out for each unit of heat generated.

To heat the house itself the underfloor heating system draws heat from the buffer tank and pumps this around its network. Unlike traditional heating systems the ground source heat pump is most efficient when operated at a fixed temperature, i.e. the house’s temperature is maintained throughout day and night. This creates a very comfortable environment within the house, which is no longer subject to fluctuating temperatures.

Underfloor HeatingThe heat pump was installed several months ago and was able to comfortably warm the house despite the exceptionally cold and prolonged winter. We’ve also notice a very significant saving when compared with the old oil based heating system used previously.

Solar Panels Roof

The Attractiveness of Roof Mounted Solar Panels

Solar panel installations have been one of our most popular products since the advent of the feed-in tariff. And within Essex we are one of the most experienced installers operating. Solar PV is still proving extremely popular. Despite the reduction of the feed-in tariff, a good installation can represent a 12% return on investment, far more than savings accounts. Furthermore recent developments such as immersion controller units (which heat your water when the sun shines) increase potential energy savings.

The interesting thing about the solar installation on our eco house is that the panels are fitted into the tiles. This allows a closer mount to the roof itself. Behind the panels the roof is not tiled, instead the panels fit into a tray mounted on the rafters. This allows for the requisite airflow (to aid cooling) whilst providing for a close fit to the roof itself. The advantage of this is purely aesthetic, there are no performance gains. This set-up is popular with new builds which have been designed with solar in mind, which is increasingly becoming the case. It is less popular with existing roofs, i.e. retrofits. Due to the extensive amount of work that has to be carried out to an existing roof to fit the trays, it is more often than not cost prohibitive.

As the attached photo shows, flush black panels set against a slate roof creates a handsome look. On a related note I do believe that peoples attitudes to the attractiveness of roof mounted solar panels are changing. Initially they were considered something of an aberration on an otherwise perfectly nondescript roof (lets face it, most roofs are wholly unexciting). However as they have become more prolific, not only have they gained acceptance, but they also create a feature. When installed thoughtful, i.e. not disrupting the natural symmetry of a roof, they provide a focus point for attention. They reveal a forward thinking home owner, someone interested in make steps towards protecting the environment and themselves from rising energy bills.
Solar Panels Roof

Solar Panel roof installation essex

The Future of Gas Prices

Alistair Buchanan, chief executive of Ofgem has recently warned of ‘rollercoaster’ energy supplies. Buchanan references three main contributing factors; the closure of power plants, decreasing supplies of foreign energy and greater domestic demands.

In fact Buchanan noted that this January the 16th, the National Grid fell short to the measure of around one million homes. An old oil-fired power plant in Fawley made up the difference, however by next year this plant will be closed.

Looking to the future of energy generation Buchanan notes that ‘Wind has … been hit by the financial crisis and it will take time to reach a critical mass; nuclear will not be with us until well after 2020; and carbon capture and storage technology is still in its infancy. So that leaves gas’

Currently gas provides around 30% of our energy generation needs. Looking forward to 2020 this could rise to 60-70%. This will force Britain to ‘compete for it’s gas on a world-wide market’

With all this speculation and uncertainty over gas prices, we’ve noticed an increasingly large number of our customers opting for ground and air source heat pumps. Often these customers also have the option to utilise gas. However after taking a long term view, our customers have opted to avoid exposing themselves to the ‘rollercoaster’ of future gas supplies.

If you’d like more information on reducing your exposure to fluctuating gas and electricity prices call us on 01621 827015