Flooding gave rise to energy generating system
A flood wrecked their home, but the owners of this historic property have fought back and harnessed the river to create energy. Sharon Dale reports.
WHEN Bedale beck burst its banks and flooded their muchloved home, Graham Senior and his family were devastated.
They were forced to move out while the damage to their 18th century converted water mill in Crakehall, was assessed and repaired. Yet out of the loss, frustration and anger, came a plan to turn a negative situation into a positive one.
The Seniors decided to harness the power of the river to create green energy, while putting in a defence system to protect the property from future floods.
“It’s the first time the house has flooded in living memory and it did have a major effect on us. We had to move out for nine months, but the renovation work gave us a chance to look at installing a renewable source of energy,” says Graham, who opted for an innovative water source heat pump system that has now replaced the oil-fired boiler.
The new system runs the heating and supplies all of the hot water for the six-bedroom home that dates back to 1740.
“I had done lots of research on renewable energy as we were spending over £5,000 per year on oil, and that figure was rising every year, says Graham.
“I looked at biomass boilers and ground source heat, which were about £40,000 to install. The water source heat pump was less expensive and allowed us to use the river, which is something I wanted to do.”
The cost of installation was around £25,000 and the pump runs on electricity, which is forecast to cost £1,500 a year.
However, the system should also qualify for the government’s generous renewable heat incentive payments, which are set to launch in spring. So the installation costs should be recouped in three to four years, and as the RHI runs for seven years, future payments will be a bonus.
“We didn’t do it for the RHI payments. We would’ve done it anyway as it still makes financial sense when you compare it to oil,” says Graham.
Yorkshire companies, AV Commercial and Danfoss, designed and fitted the system, which required an abstraction licence from the Environment Agency. This is essential for anyone using more than 20m3 from a natural water source.
As the water is extracted and put it back into the river with no risk of contamination, obtaining permission wasn’t a problem.
AV Commercial installed two DHP-L 12 kW ground source heat pumps fitted in an open loop method to extract water from the beck, which at the closest point is 12 feet away from the property.
The system draws water into a well and then pumps it into a plant room, housed in an outbuilding 150 feet from the river. The water enters a 1,100 litre settling tank with reverse washable filter and two heat exchangers that take warmth from the water. Inside the house, there is a Danfoss 400 litre hot water cylinder and a 200 litre buffer tank.
Michael Valovin, of AV Commercial, says: “Water source heat pumps are becoming increasing popular. The water in the beck has a relatively high temperature of around nine degrees centigrade in summer, down to five degrees in winter, which means that it optimises the running of the heat pump. Using a water source system also meant there was much less need for ground works, which made it more cost effective and quicker to install. We are confident that the Senior family will make major savings on their heating over the next few years.”
Chris Dale, of Danfoss Heat Pumps, adds: “It made perfect sense for the family to take advantage of natural resources near the property. Water source heat pumps provide exceptional energy savings and a very natural and sustainable way to provide heating and hot water for a property.”
Open loop water source heat pumps are common in Scandinavia and other Northern European countries, where there are many properties located close to water.
“It’s hard to imagine taking heat from a river but there is a latent heat. It’s the air above the water that makes it feel cold apparently,” says Graham, who is pleased with the system so far.
“It’s relatively simple. A pipe takes water from the river into the heat pump system, where it is heated up and pumped round the house. It’s then cooled and put back into the river.
“We’ve only been using it since November but the signs are good. We should save money on energy bills and the house is much more pleasant to live in as it’s heated to a constant, ambient temperature.
“I like to think that this is the beck giving something back to us and making amends for what happened in 2012.”
For water source heat pumo installations within the North of England, contact AV Commercial via the website, www.ag-energy. co.uk or tel: 0113 217 2973.
More advice can be found via Danfoss at www.heatpumps. danfoss.co.uk or by calling 0114 2703900.
For more information on Energy generating and saving idea, visit the Energy Saving Trust, a social enterprise that offers impartial advice to homeowners, www.energysavingtrust.org.uk.
EMOTIONAL FAREWELL: This home, part of which was once a factory, has been renovated and revamped until it is picture-perfect. The Art Deco features from the 1920s contrast beautifully with new, modern elements. The property has four large bedrooms and three bathrooms.
CURRENT AFFAIRS: Graham Senior’s home is heated using a water source heat pump. They decided to harness the power of Bedale beck.