Tap into the warm earth to heat up your home

Those who rely on oil-fired heat­ing are dig­ging deep to find an al­ter­na­tive source of warmth. Sharon Dale re­ports on the ben­e­fits of us­ing ground-source heat to slash your bills.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

HAV­ING lived in a draughty old farm­house that re­quired gal­lons of oil to keep it warm in win­ter, Tim and Sa­man­tha Abbey knew they wanted an al­ter­na­tive to ex­pen­sive fos­sil fuel for their new home.

The cou­ple de­cided to in­stall ground source heat when they sold their 17th cen­tury farm­house to a build a more en­ergy efficient prop­erty in the vil­lage of Long Marston, near York.

The sys­tem can cut heat­ing bills by up to 70 per cent in homes that cur­rently use oil and up to 30 per cent in those that use gas. The cost of in­stal­la­tion for the av­er­age home is be­tween £10,000 to £17,000.

“When we were plan­ning the new home, we thought it was a great op­por­tu­nity to in­stall a re­new­able heat­ing source. We had an oil-fired boiler in the old house, which was ex­pen­sive to run and with the ris­ing cost of oil, we were keen to find some­thing more affordable,” says Tim, a farmer.

He and Sa­man­tha, who also run a mar­quee and hat hire busi­ness from home, bought the sys­tem from Sh­effield-based Dan­foss and it was in­stalled by Pure Re­new­ables of Cot­ting­ham near Hull.

The first job was to dig trenches about 6ft deep in a nearby field. This was done by a lo­cal drainage con­trac­tor. Next, pip­ing known as a ground loop was buried in the trenches. The loop car­ries cold wa­ter and an­tifreeze. This fluid is warmed by the earth and flows back into the 12kw heat pump unit that runs on elec­tric­ity and is en­closed in a cup­board in the garage.

Here, a re­frig­er­ant ab­sorbs the heat and evap­o­rates to form a gas. The gas is then com­pressed, which causes its tem­per­a­ture to rise. The hot gas passes into a con­denser where it starts to change back to a liq­uid as heat is trans­ferred into the house and sup­plies the un­der-floor heat­ing on the ground floor and ra­di­a­tors on the first and sec­ond floors. It also heats the hot wa­ter.

Af­ter pass­ing through an ex­pan­sion valve, the liq­uid re­frig­er­ant re­turns to the evap­o­ra­tor and the cy­cle be­gins again.

Heat pumps are of­ten de­scribes as work­ing like a fridge in re­verse and are ef­fec­tive both in sum­mer and win­ter, day and night be­cause the ground tem­per­a­ture re­mains at a con­stant 12C at only a few feet be­low the sur­face.

For the Abbey fam­ily, ground source heat has paid off. The sys­tem cost £13,000 but their en­ergy bills have been slashed.

Their bill for heat­ing and hot wa­ter in their six bed­room home is £750 a year, which is less than a third of the cost of an oil-fired sys­tem.

Tim says: “My fam­ily re­ally en­joy hav­ing a home which is con­tin­u­ously warm af­ter liv­ing in an older prop­erty that some­times had ice on the in­side of the win­dows. I would def­i­nitely rec­om­mend this form of heat­ing to oth­ers be­cause it is per­form­ing very ef­fi­ciently. To pro­vide a sim­i­lar level of heat­ing and hot wa­ter from an oil-fired sys­tem would have cost at least £3,000 a year. I am amazed at how much money I have saved.

“We’ve had it two years now and it’s fairly easy to run. You just need an­nual main­te­nance checks on the boiler and sys­tem.”

Ground source heat pumps also at­tract a one-off Re­new­able Heat In­cen­tive pre­mium pay­ment of £850 from the gov­ern­ment, though house­hold­ers must also demon­strate that their home is well in­su­lated and they must mon­i­tor and record the new sys­tem’s per­for­mance.

From Oc­to­ber 2012, a new RHI scheme is ex­pected to pay home­own­ers for each unit of green heat they pro­duce.

But ground source isn’t suit­able for ev­ery­one. Ide­ally, you will need enough land out­side the prop­erty to lay the ground loop, which usu­ally ex­tends to about 600ft, though you can use a ver­ti­cal bore hole sys­tem in a smaller space. These are more costly to in­stall.

The pump also works best with un­der-floor heat­ing or new high ef­fi­ciency ra­di­a­tors. You can’t have in­stant warmth as with a con­ven­tional boiler as the sys­tem is de­signed to run most of the time at a con­stant low heat.

The pumps are also best fit­ted into a new build. Retro fit­ting is pos­si­ble though you may also need new ra­di­a­tors and a new boiler.

Chris Dale, di­rec­tor of Dan­foss Heat Pumps, says: “An in­creas­ing num­ber of farm­ers and self builders who own land are tak­ing ad­van­tage of ground source heat pump tech­nol­ogy and en­joy­ing both the im­me­di­ate ben­e­fits of lower heat­ing costs and the peace of mind which comes from be­ing less af­fected by fu­ture en­ergy price rises. Of course they are also help­ing to re­duce car­bon diox­ide emis­sions, which means they are do­ing their bit for the en­vi­ron­ment too.”

ECO­NOM­I­CAL: Tim and Sa­man­tha Abbey’s ground source heat pump, means their bills are around the third of the cost of oil-fired heat­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.