Go­ing un­der­ground to keep warm and save money at the same time

With fuel costs ris­ing more home­own­ers are go­ing un­der­ground for their heat. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - NEWS -

BUY­ING a new boiler is one of the most galling of prop­erty ex­penses be­cause its feels like a cost with few ben­e­fits.

There is no fi­nan­cial re­turn, un­less your pre­vi­ous model was hope­lessly in­ef­fi­cient, and you can’t help but com­pare the ugly metal con­trap­tion to the hand­made sofa or beau­ti­ful paint­ing you could’ve had for the same price.

But there are a grow­ing num­ber of ex­cep­tions to this rule and Frances Trow­ell is one of them af­ter ditch­ing her oil-fired boiler for ground source heat sys­tem

The ini­tial cost may have been high at £25,000 but she no longer has to pay £4,000 a year for oil and her an­nual fuel bill has been halved.

For the last two years the pump has supplied all her hot wa­ter and heated her house.

“We needed a new boiler any­way and I had been read­ing about ground source heat, so I started to ex­plore the op­tions and thought it was a good idea.

“You need quite a bit of land to lay the pipes and we had that,” says Frances, who bought North Corner Farmer at Thr­uscross, near Har­ro­gate, eight years ago.

They bought a Worces­ter Bosch sys­tem that was fit­ted by a plumber with ground source ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Trow­ells also had trenches dug a me­tre deep for the pipes and cre­ated a sep­a­rate plant room for the col­lec­tor unit and the hot wa­ter stor­age tank.

The sys­tem works by pump­ing a mix­ture of wa­ter and an­tifreeze through the buried pipes. As the liq­uid trav­els round, it ab­sorbs heat from the earth which is used to warm radiators, un­der­floor heat­ing and wa­ter.

A ground loop sys­tem for a four-bed­room house costs an av­er­age of £18,000, though if you have no space to lay the pipes, you can have a bore hole – up to 100 me­tres deep, which costs about £22,000.

Al­though the heat from the ground is free, the pump is run on elec­tric­ity, so there is still a cost.

“It has halved our fuel costs and it wasn’t in­va­sive or messy to fit in­side the house, says Frances.

“It was sim­ply con­nected to our ex­ist­ing radiators and un­der­floor heat­ing.

“Apart from be­ing greener, it has im­proved our qual­ity of life. The heat through­out the house is an am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture all the time and we have plenty of hot wa­ter.

“The pump is also very low main­te­nance.”

Ar­chi­tect Francis Shaw in­stalled two ground source heat pumps in the me­dieval cas­tle in Hel­li­field, near Set­tle, he trans­formed from ruin to beau­ti­ful home and B&B .

Fans of Grand De­signs may re­mem­ber Francis and his wife Karen dig­ging trenches and lay­ing the pipes them­selves.

The hard work and £25,000 cost was worth­while, says Francis, who rec­om­mends pump sup­plier Ice En­ergy: “I’d say we save 50 per cent on fuel bills by hav­ing this sys­tem, but it is low grade heat, so the radiators never get very hot, so you may have to buy big­ger radiators if you are retro fit­ting.

“We also find that the wa­ter from the pump is tepid, so it needs a boost, and there is main­te­nance. You have to keep an eye on fluid pres­sure and clean fil­ters.

“I am pleased with it though. It is an ef­fec­tive way of heat­ing a 10,000 sq feet build­ing with walls that are 10 feet thick.”

Al­though the ini­tial cost is high, the pumps are grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, es­pe­cially with house­holds re­liant on oil. Pay­back time for them is said to be be­tween seven and 10 years.

“The pay­back time for a pump is much quicker for those us­ing oil. For those us­ing gas it is slower be­cause gas is still the cheap­est form of heat,” says Grant Hen­der­son of York-based in­staller So­lar wall.

Frances and hus­band Nick have saved £4,000 in the last two years but are now sell­ing their idyl­lic home, so their pay­back will end.

Al­though they will see a re­turn on the ex­ten­sion and in­te­rior makeover they have in­vested in, the heat pump hasn’t added to the value of their home.

Tim War­ing of Knight Frank, which is mar­ket­ing the prop­erty, says: “I don’t think they add to the value of a house, though they may well do in the fu­ture. Peo­ple are be­com­ing much more in­ter­ested in the en­ergy per­for­mance of a prop­erty and run­ning costs are a con­cern.

“What this green technology has done is make the prop­erty unique and even more saleable.

“The heat pump has has cre­ated a huge amount of pos­i­tive in­ter­est among buy­ers.”

North Corner Farm is for sale through Knight Frank, £795,000: 01423 530088 www.knight­frank.com

Peel Cas­tle, Hel­li­field, near Set­tle, lux­ury bed and break­fast, www.peel­cas­tle.co.uk

WARMER: North Corner Farm is now heated by us­ing a ground source heat pump which cuts fuel costs.

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