Ground source heat pump, underfloor heating and screed in Bridge of  Allan

Ground source heat pump, underfloor heating and screed in Bridge of Allan

Our team of fitters have recently completed a 350m² underfloor heating and screed project in Bridge of Allan, Stirling. The property is undergoing some extensive alterations and Incognito Heat Co. have been tasked to deliver a brand-new underfloor heating system and a ground source heat pump system to heat the entire property.

Due to the scale of the property, two underfloor heating manifolds are necessary, and these have been installed at opposite ends of the building to manage unwanted heat build-up on the approach to each manifold.

To maintain the highest standards, Incognito Heat Co. manage each step of the project from floor preparation, design and installation of the underfloor heating pipework, right through to the application and levelling of the liquid floor screed.

Underfloor heating with ground source heat pump installation in Bridge of Allan, Stirling

We believe the only way to achieve a quality result is to invest in quality suppliers and installers. Our screed material of choice is Cemfloor, which is a high performing cement based liquid screed. The product is available through a select number of concrete batching plants who must adhere to the most exacting standards and is installed by our installation team who themselves undergo regular product training.

Around twenty-five cubic metres of screed was ordered for this property, to be pumped and levelled in one continuous operation. On a project of this scale, a dependable supplier is called for who can ensure that material is always available, and at the correct consistency. For this we turned to our longstanding supply partners, Grange Quarries who have constantly performed, both in terms of reliability in deliveries and the quality of material.

Upon arrival, all fresh screed is tested for the correct flow rate. This test allows our lead installer Don to judge whether the material is within tolerances, and can be used immediately, or whether further judicious additions of water are required to bring the material to the looked-for workability. Our team is trained by the manufacturers and will if necessary, reject any material that falls outside the high standards we demand. A successful flow rate test result is always a welcomed outcome on what is always a very busy day.

Material is pumped into the building, and being liquid, it encapsulates the heating pipes very well. At this point it is apparent why such care and attention has been expended on the preparation, as a successful pour will often hinge on the standard of workmanship of the team working directly before.

Following placement of the material, the screed is worked with dapple bars to finally displace any entrapped air within it. On the last pass the surface of the screed is sprayed with a curing agent which creates a ‘skin’ to prevent excessive water loss which can lead to issues with cracking.

Time-lapse video:

Before our team leaves site, we will wash down all our equipment, so it is important that space is set aside for this messy but necessary task.  All windows and doors are shut to prevent air movement across the green screed whilst it is in its infancy. Care should be taken to guard against damage from foot traffic and point loading until the screed has gained full strength.

Full instructions on the care and maintenance of the new screed are supplied to the builder, so the minimum possible time is spent getting it to a point where floor finishes can be applied.

Heat pump and underfloor heating Aberdeen - Dundee

Heat pump and underfloor heating Aberdeen - Dundee

Incognito Heat Co were consulted at the initial pre-design stage of this proposed development, a stunning family home, with heat pump and underfloor heating, in an equally stunning location on the north east coast of Scotland, between Aberdeen and Dundee which enjoys panoramic views across the North Sea for this young family.

Working closely with the architects, Cowie Chartered Architects Ltd, and main contractor, Fotheringham Property Developments Limited, Incognito Heat Co were appointed to plan an efficient space heating and a domestic hot water strategy. We were delighted to take up the challenge.

Why Underfloor Heating in Aberdeen and Dundee?

The first thing people think about when they hear about underfloor heating is mess. Everyone thinks installing underfloor heating in Aberdeen or Dundee is going to cause a huge mess in their home or commercial building. And, of course, that it’s going to be an expensive mess.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

When you work with the right installer, underfloor heating takes very little time, makes very little mess and, more importantly, it costs very little in the long run.

In fact, whether you change your existing flooring is up to you. If you’re in the middle of a refurbishment, then you probably already had it in the books. If you love your current flooring, installing pipes underneath it is perfectly doable – without harming it.

But that’s not all that underfloor heating brings to the table. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages:

  • Improved thermal comfort: underfloor heating radiates heat from the floor to the roof. Unlike conventional heaters, it allows for a pleasant environment at a lower temperature.

  • Cost savings: underfloor heating is more efficient than conventional methods. The water in a radiator needs to be heated at 65-67 degrees Celsius. For underfloor heating, 27 to 29 degrees are enough. Plus, it doesn’t depend on oil prices rising due to political or economic instability.

  • Green energy: the water used in the pipes can be heated by heat pumps and pumped round with electricity obtained through solar panels or wind turbines. You can have your entire home running on renewable energy, thus helping the environment and your wallet.

  • Extra space and better design: tired of searching for clever ways to mask ugly radiators? Underfloor heating isn’t too pretty, either, but it’s completely out of sight. You can use the space where radiators used to be for a stylish decoration that gives every room a unique personality.

  • Better air quality: radiators circulate the same stale warm air through the room. Underfloor heating allows for fresh air circulation without harming the energy efficiency of the system.

  • Faster heating: the right underfloor system can heat your room in 20 minutes or less. That significantly faster than conventional radiators that need to heat the air around them first.

  • No energy loss: when you have a radiator in your home, you already know what opening the window above it does to your energy efficiency. You’re basically throwing money off that window. As the name says, underfloor heating heats the floor, which means that, even if you open the window, the energy loss is minimal.

  • Child friendly: Forget about baby-proofing metallic edges. Underfloor heating is safely tucked away. Plus, even the youngest members of your family can walk barefooted on a warm floor.

  • No maintenance: if your system is installed correctly, it will last for a lifetime without any maintenance work. Now this truly is long-term cost saving!

Want to reap some of these amazing benefits for yourself? Take a look at the process we implemented for our clients below:

Ground source heat pump and underfloor heating Aberdeen - Dundee

At the heart of our proposed system was a 3 phase 16kW Thermia Diplomat Duo Optimum ground source heat pump, with a 200 litre buffer vessel to serve the house's space underfloor heating, and 300 litre domestic hot cylinder to provide the house's domestic hot water requirements.

The field on the east coast between Aberdeen and Dundee, where the looped collector pipes for the ground source heat pump were laid.

(Drone image by Michael Fotheringham, other images by Vincent Hartman.)

The renewable energy for this heat pump between Aberdeen and Dundee is drawn from the ground via an array of ground collector pipes. In excess of 1000 metres of this pipe is buried horizontally one metre below the surface of the garden grounds of this property, and is connected to the heat pump which is located in the plant room of the house adjacent to the garage. 

Renewable energy with Underfloor Heating Aberdeen - Dundee

This pipe is then filled with a specialist glycol heat transfer fluid which is circulated constantly through the pipework whist the system operating, drawing low grade heat from the ground, and delivering it to the heat pump. This is where the heat pump works its magic, using its reverse refrigeration technology, turning this low grade heat into high grade heat, sufficient to providing stable warm comfort throughout the entire property during the coldest winter condition’s, and all the properties domestic hot water requirements.  

Inside the house, on the ground floor our Ambiente underfloor heating Aberdeen system, with its pipework buried in the floor screed, ensures that an efficient comfortable controllable atmosphere is constantly maintained. On the first floor, heat pump compatible radiators have been fitted.

Incognito Heat Pumps and Underfloor Heating Aberdeen worked closely with Fotheringham Property Development (from Gourdon, also between Aberdeen and Dundee) and the owners, as the house was being constructed from early springtime 2016, through to its successful completion and hand over just before Christmas 2016.

The results, we are pleased to report that the system came through the harsh #BeastFromTheEast winter of 2017/2018 without missing a beat, keeping the family warm and in hot water (in the nicest way).

Incognito team members turning up for work on the first of March 2018 (but didn’t get anywhere else after that).

Building your own dream home, have a similar requirement for a state of art modern super-efficient heat pump and underfloor heating system in the Aberdeen and Dundee area? 

Please contact us for an initial consultation, we look forward to hearing from you!

Can Heat Pumps Give You Great Value For Money?

Can Heat Pumps Give You Great Value For Money?

Air and ground source heat pumps are steadily gaining popularity but one question that keeps popping up is, do heat pumps offer great value for money? In other words: are heat pumps in Scotland a good investment?

Heat pumps may be gaining popularity in Scotland for only the last ten years or so, up in Scandinavia they have been in use for over 30 years now and are the mainstream heat source for homes. 

Heat pumps’ cost effectiveness in Scotland has always been questioned. You’ll find tons of pro and con arguments online. Out of all of them, one thing is for sure: it all depends on the size of the collector, pump, or heat emitter. If these are incompatible then no, heat pumps (ground or air) are not cost effective. 

Heat Pumps Give Value For Money?

In this article, we take a closer look at how to make sure you get great value for money when it comes to heat pumps.

How Do Heat Pumps Operate?

Heat pumps use solar heat that has been absorbed by the ground or air, which is transferred (pumped) and used to heat up residential or commercial buildings. Heat pumps are also effective for heating water. The technology used is similar to that of a refrigerator only this time the end result is heat instead of cold air. 

In the case of a ground source heat pump, the energy comes from passing a glycol/water mix through pipework buried in the ground. The temperature of the earth tends to be very stable 1m deep, and there is minimal variation in this temperature across the seasons. The fluid in the pipework absorbs energy from its surroundings and delivers this to the heat pump within the property, where it is used in the process described in the earlier paragraph. After the energy has been given off to the heat pump the cooled fluid passes back into the pipework to collect more heat.

Whilst the process within the air source heat pump is identical to the ground source heat pump, the initial heat collection method is different. Instead, an air handling unit is installed outside. Air is drawn over the fins of the evaporator and energy contained in the air is transferred to the refrigerant. Cooled air is discharged from the front of the air handling unit, which is why there shouldn’t be any obstruction within 3 metres, to allow good air circulation all around the unit.

How Can I Measure the Performance of a Heat Pump?

The standard performance of a heat pump is normally measured by its Co-efficient of Performance (COP). This is the ratio of heat produced per every unit of electricity consumed while pumping that heat. Therefore, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by how high this ratio is. This is simply because a higher COP value translates to relatively more efficient heat delivery.

For instance, for you to get 3kWh of heat for every 1kWh of electricity used to operate the heat pump, you would need a COP value of no less than 3.

This could be physically calculated by attaching electrical meters to the heat pump and heat meters onto the flow and return pipework. However you can check the stated COP of each heat pump by going on line to the MCS website, where you will find values for SCOP at every degree between 35˚C and 55˚C.

As it takes more electrical energy to get to 40˚C than it does to get to 35˚C, this is reflected in the lower efficiency figure. When this is understood it helps explain why underfloor heating is such a good match for ground and air source heat pumps.

How Much Will I Spend On A Heat Pump?

Heat pumps prices vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Plus, you also have to take into account the installation cost, which varies from location to location and from installer to installer.

According to Energy Saving Trust, you are looking at a cost between £6,000 and £8,000 for the installation of an average system. Still, you need to keep in mind that heat pump installation in Scotland can get significantly pricier if you opt for a high-end system.

How Will I Know if a Heat Pump Is Right for My Home?

This is an extremely important question that is often overlooked by people in the process of shopping for and installing heat pumps in their homes.

A common thread that keeps cropping up in online debates about heat pumps is the matter of retrofit installations. As noted earlier on this website (heat pumps Scotland page) article, the heat pump market is relatively young in the UK. Historically a number of installations may have taken place where heat pumps have been undersized for the property, or fitted into buildings that were never appropriate for such technology

To answer the question if a heat pump is right for your home, start by asking another question:

What Kind of Fuel is the Heat Pump replacing?

If your new heat pump is replacing a system powered by electricity, oil, coal, or LPG then yes, a heat pump is most certainly ideal for your home. In fact, it will pay for itself through the energy savings it brings.

But if you’ve been using mains gas to generate heat for your home then your heat emitting system within your home may need to be upgraded before a heat pump is fitted. This is because your present heat emitters will have been designed for a high temperature supply, this could involve upgrading to larger radiators or getting underfloor heating installed which will operate on lower supply temperature. A heat pump should not be considered as a substitute for a well-insulated property, and your home should have its current insulation levels reviewed, and possibly improved before you go ahead.

"Insulate Before You Generate"

Due to the low water temperature required, ground and air source heat pumps perform way better than radiator systems and are preferred to underfloor or warm air heating.

According to the Energy Saving Trust’s heat pump field trial, delivering to radiators has, on average, 86 percent of the efficiency of delivering to underfloor heating.

But even with their rising popularity, domestic and commercial property owners are advised to make sure that their homes and offices are properly insulated. This will ensure that the heat pump delivers optimally. Consumers should also be aware that one size doesn’t fit all. It is imperative that you get an expert to recommend the right underfloor heating system for your home or office.

Will The Heat Pump Heat My Water Too?

Yes, it can. Apart from being used to supply natural underfloor heating to homes and offices, heat pumps can also be used to heat up hot water systems. A heat pump can increase water temperature to around 50˚C without the support of direct electric immersion heaters. If this sounds less than the temperature produced by a fossil fuel burning boiler bear in mind that water much above 40˚C is uncomfortable to bathe in.

To compensate for the lower storage temperature, the volume of stored water is normally increased. Your installer will recommend a suitable Domestic Hot Water cylinder (DHW) that will meet the minimum needs of your property. That said, you should discuss any extraordinary DHW demands you have that might mean a higher volume of water is needed. Your installer will then provide options for larger cylinders, it is a fact that heat pumps are at their least efficient when producing heat for hot water, and your installer should demonstrate the additional annual costs of heating and maintaining the larger volume of water.

On the subject of hot water, your installer will be managing the risks of legionella. Legionella bacteria are common in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but usually in low numbers. They may be found in purpose built water systems including hot and cold water systems. If conditions are favourable, the bacteria may multiply, increasing the risk of legionnaires’ disease. This is a potentially fatal pneumonia, infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria. Everyone is potentially susceptible to infection but some people are at higher risk, i.e. the elderly, smokers, those suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease, and people whose immune system is impaired.

Risks are managed by elimination of stored cold water in combination with the installation of a mains pressure hot water system. Furthermore, the volume of stored hot water is closely matched to the daily requirements of the household, thus ensuring a high water turnover.

To maintain a healthy DHW system the hot water cylinder will be heated to 60˚C periodically. The heat pump will raise the water to the maximum possible temperature, then an electric immersion element lifts the water temperature the last little bit. Current advised good practice is to operate this function on a weekly basis. This is set up on commissioning and thereafter is an automatic function that requires no additional input from you.

The DHW cylinder that will be supplied will differ from other traditional cylinders because it will have a much larger coil to transfer heat faster.

Get the Right Heat Pump Size for Your Space

It is highly recommended that you seek professional help before installing a heat pump in your building. We understand the need to cut down on cost and the urge to “Do-It-Yourself” using “How-To” YouTube videos. But incorrectly installed heat pumps can end up costing you more to run than what you will be replacing.

The Government is operating the Renewable Heating Incentive scheme to help home owners with the cost of installing this technology. To be eligible for the scheme, it is a requirement that

  1. the equipment being installed is new, and

  2. the equipment is on the list of approved appliances issued by MCS, and

  3. the installer is certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) for the relevant technology. If anyone of these points is not adhered to then you will miss out on some very valuable financial support.

To become MCS accredited requires serious commitment. There are many perfectly competent tradesmen who can fit heat pumps for you, but do not have the resources to devote to maintaining the high standards set out in the Microgeneration Installation Standard MIS 3005.

In addition, there are codes of practice for dealing with consumers that MCS installers must comply with, that help to keep standards consistently high throughout the industry. These codes govern how installers communicate with you, how they negotiate the order with you, the size of deposit that may be requested, how they carry out the work in your property, standards of workmanship, workmanship warranties and registering your installation on the MCS Installation Database.

Should things not work out as hoped and you have to make a complaint- there is even a procedure for this so that you are never left with no one to turn to. A good installer will work with you to respond quickly and get your complaint resolved.

By using an expert, you are guaranteed the right system for your property. But how can you tell if your installer is indeed an expert? Well, professional installers use the BS EN 14511 standard to test and quote for most heat pump packages.

The BS EN 14511 is used to specify test conditions of about 7°C outdoor (for air-source heat pumps). It should also be able to register a return and flow temperature of 40°C and 45°C respectively.

Before you hire a heat pump installer in Scotland, make sure they abide by these standards.

Installing the Heat Pump

This is another critical factor that needs to be considered when installing a heat pump for your home or office. A ground source heat pump system is entirely contained within the house, and once the ground loops are installed and the garden has been landscaped, there is nothing to show externally that a renewable system has been installed. By contrast, an air source heat pump must be installed outside the property where air can freely pass over it. An air source heat pump is much easier to install because it simply has to be set up outside the building. You should, however, ensure that there are no obstructions near the system.

Air source heat pump

It is critical that the unit is not blocked in anyway to restrict air flow around it. Air source heat pump manufacturers have worked hard to reduce the noise produced from the unit, but even so it is considered good practice to avoid locating them outside rooms where people sleep, or where noise could cause a nuisance to neighbours. Often the rear or side of the property is selected for an air source heat pump installation, where it cannot be seen from the approach to the property. If necessary, high performance insulated pipe may be buried in the ground to allow the air source heat pump to be installed some distance away from the property. Installation costs will increase, and the system may be slightly less efficient as a result of transferring energy over greater distances. Even though both systems are mainly placed outside the house, heat pumps can be noisy and, therefore, you need to take into consideration their location and positioning.

Ground source Heat Pump

In terms of installation, the ground source heat pump needs a bit more work to install. Ground loops are buried in soil at a minimum depth of 1m. This requires extensive digging works. Custom builders are advised to get the digging work done early in the project while the large earth moving machines are on site preparing the foundations. There is a correlation between the house size (and therefore its energy demand) and the amount of ground loop required- the larger the house, the more land required for ground loops.

Where the house/land ratio is not enough then vertical boreholes can be installed. Drilling rigs can go down to a depth of 100m or more, and collector probes fitted into 2 or 3 of these in less than 40m² will extract the same energy as a horizontal layout would from over 800m² of land. In part, this is due to the higher temperatures extracted at those lower depths. Drilling is a science and your installer will consult with specialists with knowledge of the type of rock that is likely to exist below your property. Different rock formations will produce different yields and it is not always possible to assess this accurately until drilling commences. For this reason, it is as well to allow a contingency in your budget for a trial bore or for the cost of additional bores in the event of snag. It has to be set up underground, which obviously requires a bit of digging (sometimes up to 100 metres deep) in order to set the coils into the ground. This should, however, not scare you as the cost to install is covered in the initial purchase cost.

Is it Worth Investing in a Heat Pump?

Heat pumps, both ground and air source, have their respective benefits and advantages. Their cost-benefit ratio is first and foremost determined by the kind of system they replace. Energy saving is a top priority as most home and business owners look to save as much in energy bills.

But that notwithstanding, there are other crucial factors that should be considered by consumers who to maximise the cost-benefit ratio. Using an expert installer is extremely important when planning to install any of the two types of heat pumps.

The right system for your home or office is also another important factor to consider. Only an expert is able to recommend a suitable heating system that fits your needs.

It is worth noting that heat pumps are a major investment. It is, therefore, advisable to be extra careful when buying and installing such a system. Do not rush into it. Take the time to find the right heat pump for your space and the right heat pump installation expert in Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Heat Pump Challenges

Just like any other machinery or technology, heat pumps do have their share of challenges. This is quite normal, although some of these challenges are mostly attributed to initial installation errors -- not following the correct installation procedures and using unqualified installers.

Most heat pump problems also occur as a result of poorly located units, shoddy workmanship such as leaking water pipes, inadequately designed ground loops resulting in the heat pump not being able to meet the heating requirement of the property, and poor or no insulation at all.

qualified heat pump  installer

All these issues can be avoided from the onset. With proper planning and use of an expert installer, you can get the best out of your heating system. Regular maintenance and monitoring by an authorised installer are also important in ensuring that the system is running efficiently and as intended.

Determine Your Domestic Heat Pump Size - Demand Assessment

One of the most important factors to consider before installing a heat pump for domestic or commercial use is assessing your heat demand.

This will give you a better idea and understanding of how much heat you need and subsequently the type of system that is ideal for your space.

You can assess this demand through analysing your annual bills. This will paint a clearer picture of how much heat you’ve been using over a given period. By taking into account the various weather variations, you, with the help of an expert installer, are in a better position to identify the right system for your property.

Another effective way to assess the demand is to use the EN ISO 13790 method. This is the standard for assessing the energy performance of buildings through the calculation of energy use for space heating and cooling.

This method is best suited for use in situations where bills are not readily available.

Your installer should be also able to also use the CIBSE Guide A, which contains comprehensive degree day information for various locations in and around the UK.

This method can effectively be used together with EN 12831 to accurately identify the most appropriate base temperature for your property and the building’s heating energy requirement.

In terms of domestic heating and hot water requirements, it is advisable not to use the Standard Assessment Procedure. It is not suited for such requirements and hence cannot be relied upon to give correct assessments and recommendations.

How Efficient Is a Heat Pump?

Efficiency is measured by a variety of factors such as: the heat source, the supplied heat, the water temperature, the space being heated, and the energy (electricity) used to run the heat pump.

According to a survey conducted by the Heating Strategy Group of the UK Energy Efficiency Partnerships for Homes, heat pumps were found to be just as efficient as gas boilers.

Heat pumps are economical and the most energy-efficient of all green energy heating systems available today. They have now become the best solution for domestic and commercial heating due to their cost-effectiveness as well as eco-friendliness.

Choosing Between Ground & Air Source Heat Pumps

This choice purely depends on your requirements and location. Both systems are efficient in their own way and perform the same task effectively.

The only glaring difference is the initial cost, which, again, depends on what you want and how big of a space you want to heat up.

A good installer will assess your property and make a recommendation for the most efficient solution for you. Unless there are compelling circumstances that render one heat source impossible from the start, there will likely be a choice between ground and air source heat pumps, and you will make a decision based upon:

  1. Initial capital cost,

  2. Long term savings against fossil fuels,

  3. Financial return through the RHI scheme,

  4. Aesthetic Considerations.

The only glaring difference is the initial cost, which, again, depends on what you want and how big of a space you want to heat up.

Having trouble deciding which of the two systems is the most suitable for your home or business? Get in touch with our heat pump Scotland experts right now! They will guide you through the process and discuss the various available options, such as the screeded floor system, the suspended floor system, the floating floor system, the low profile floor system, and the specialist floor system.

Heating Building Using Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps are easier to install than the ground source ones.

However, there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration.

For instance, air heat pumps can be efficient, especially during the winter season because they need to work almost twice as hard to warm up spaces if they are under-specified.

These systems have a pump that is usually placed outside, but not too far away from the house. During the cold season, the noise emanating from this units used to be high and were sometimes disturbing, but these days they are very well insulated. 

Heating Building Using Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pumps, on the other hand, are quieter since there are no fans involved. This system have compressors and are also efficient regardless of the weather conditions.

Why?

Because the temperature underground is usually constant at approximately 10°C, which means the heat output can also remain constant.

They are also long-lasting with a lifespan of about 20-25 years for the heat pump and approximately 50 years for the underground loops, which is a big plus.

Underfloor Heating in Aberdeen with a ground source heat pump

However, a ground source heat pump requires sizable space in order to lay the loops in the ground. It also requires a bit of digging, which can also take up a large surface area of land. This can be a big challenge especially for consumers living in urban areas.

So, between the two systems, the ground source heat pump is slightly better than the air source heating system especially for regions that experience longer periods of cold weather such as Scotland, although the units are getting much more close to each other. 

Seeking Professional Help

As highlighted before, heat pump installation is an intricate process that requires you to involve an expert. This will not only ensure that you get the right system for your property. It also makes sure that you get your ROI in terms of energy savings as well as in carbon reduction.

There are various reputable, registered, and experienced providers where you can seek professional advice on heat pumps including products, installation, and support for both domestic and commercial properties.

It is recommended that you make sure your installer is registered with the The Home Insulation & Energy Systems Contractors Scheme (HIES), this can be verified online. The HIES is a consumer protection organisation covering the installation of renewable energy products.  Also, find out which organisation has certified them and if their membership is up to date. You also need to confirm if they are members of an authorised insurance scheme including a recognised trade organisation. 

Incentives Offered For Heat Pump Use

The UK government has a one-of-a-kind Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) programme, which encourages increased use of renewable energy and heat technologies. The RHI is an elaborate programme, which rewards domestic and commercial property owners who’ve made efforts to install heating systems that are solely powered by natural and renewable sources.

Renewable Heat Incentive.jpg

This grant has worked extremely well and is on its way to strategically position the UK favourably among the top energy efficient nations. The UK aims to achieve 12 percent of its heating from renewable sources by the year 2020.

Launched in 2014 and covering England, Wales, and Scotland, the domestic RHI provides financial support to the owners of the renewable heating systems for up to seven years. The RHI for industrial, commercial, public sector, not-for-profit, and community installations was launched in 2011.

In order to know how much money you could earn through RHI, you can use this payment calculator. In order to be eligible for RHI, the system needs to be listed on the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Product Eligibility List

The current tariffs (as of June 2018) are as follows:

For applications submitted between April 1 and September 30:

  • Air source heat pumps - 10.49p/kWh

  • Ground source heat pumps - 20.46p/kWh

Detailed information regarding the commercial RHI can be found here. For domestic RHI, details can be found here.

Taking Care of Your Heat Pump

Maintenance is key when it comes to ensuring that the system is fully functional. Almost all heat pumps that have been installed by accredited installers are under warranty, which then takes care of most of the maintenance work.

But in terms of proactive maintenance and to also make sure that your unit remains efficient, you also need to take good care of it by ensuring that there are no branches or debris covering or blocking the air source heat pump. Both internal and external units should also be closely monitored.

Obtaining Regulatory Approval

In England and Wales, air source heat pumps are generally considered permitted developments and hence do not require permission in order to have them installed in your property.

For Scotland, however, you only need to meet certain conditions. For instance, the heat pump needs to be not less than 100 meters from being sited.

In Conclusion

Heat pumps are slowly becoming a must-have in most homes and offices globally and especially regions that experience extremely cold weather. In homes, heat pumps are now offering that much-needed warmth and comfort at no extra energy cost. Thanks to heat pumps, homes have now been transformed into living spaces that we all look forward to at the end of the day.

Offices that have been fitted with heat pumps have now become a hotbed for productivity. Employees require an ideal working environment and cold weather can dampen their spirits significantly. Business owners have become aware of the cost-effectiveness of heat pumps and how heated offices can improve the working conditions and subsequently impact their bottom line.

But before you dash off to get yourself a heat pump, take time to look around and identify an expert to help you with your installation. Do a thorough background check including going through heat pump reviews just to get a feel of what other users are saying about these heating systems.

Remember, you can save more if you get an expert to recommend a suitable system for your property and then have it professionally installed. Bottom line -- heat pumps are indeed cost effective and can give you value for money in the long term but only if done properly.

Underfloor Heating Perth Scotland

Underfloor Heating Perth Scotland

This underfloor heating project in Perth was a new self-build property located just outside the picturesque village of Dunning in Central Scotland. Incognito Heat Co. were commissioned to provide the complete underfloor heating package. We were approached at initial design stage and were able to offer practical advice on installation methods that are cost and time effective and help to keep the job on target.

We work with clients to deliver cost effective solutions within their budget that achieves the highest possible levels of energy efficiency. This collaboration between client and us worked well as the client now reports that the property is comfortable and has been very efficient over the last four years.

Underfloor Heating Perth

The property comprised of three bedrooms with Ensuites, and a large social hub centering on the kitchen and living area. It has been designed with large areas of floor to ceiling glazing to capture light and take in the beautiful Perth and Kinross countryside. With these spacious open plan areas, underfloor heating was an ideal method of heating the property and preserving design freedom. Temperatures are controlled by programmable thermostats in all rooms. The controls are simple to read and adjust, once the correct temperatures have been set for each room the system takes care of itself. A setback function in the thermostat allows the underfloor heating to cool slightly overnight, but still respond quickly to achieve comfortable conditions for the next day.

The floor construction consisted of concrete slab provided by the client and we supplied and fitted insulation above the slab. The care and attention to detail at this stage is important to ensure that the next stages follow on smoothly. This underfloor heating system in Perth was designed from the outset to be compatible with renewable heat sources such as ground and air source heat pumps. This meant that 17mm Ambiente pipework was installed at closer centres, ensuring that sufficient heat output will be produced from the floor when 45˚C water is circulated through the floor. An anhydrite floor screed was applied over the system. The liquid nature of the screed completely encapsulates the pipework guaranteeing 100% contact and excellent transfer of heat through the screed. Trained operators applied the screed, which was pumped into the property. Material may be pumped many metres both vertically and horizontally, and providing the site is within range of a batching plant there are few situations where we are unable to get screed.

 If you click on the image above you can see the detailed technical plan in PDF

If you click on the image above you can see the detailed technical plan in PDF

Underfloor Heating Perth, Kinross & Tayside

This underfloor heating system in beautiful the Perth and Kinross countryside has an Ambiente 12 port stainless steel manifold, connected to an LPG boiler supplied by others. An integral pump and blending valve was supplied to reduce the temperature of the water entering the floor. 17mm 5 layer PE-RT Ambiente pipe was fitted to all rooms with the exception of some cupboard space and below kitchen units. Controls are fully programmable and wired using mains voltage cabling. In new build applications we recommend that controls are hardwired, reserving battery powered controls for renovations or retrofitting when it is not possible to run cabling. The manifold was located in a cupboard off the hallway, which becomes warm as a result. This makes an excellent airing cupboard. The manifold should ideally be central to the property and be readily accessible. Where cupboard space is at a premium Incognito Heat Co. offer manifold cabinets that may be built into walls.

Underfloor heating allows for large areas of floor to ceiling glazing to capture light and take in the beautiful Perth and Kinross countryside

Client supplied and installed laminate type flooring throughout the living areas. When the floor screed was sufficiently dry, the flooring was installed as per manufacturers recommendations. Typically, this involves fitting a soft cushioning layer to absorb impact noise before laying the floating floor. Bathrooms were tiled, the tilers preparing the floor by lightly sanding the surface to remove dust and construction dirt ground into the surface during the build process. Good tiling practices were observed, and a primer was applied to the floor before tiling with an anhydrite compatible flexible adhesive. The underfloor heating was switched off several days before tiling was started, and gradually turned on only after the tile adhesive had fully set.

Incognito Underfloor Heating Perth, Kinross & Tayside are uniquely placed to meet the needs of the quality bespoke house builder in Perthshire and Tayside.

Our experienced and enthusiastic team are dedicated to delivering excellent service, we are easy to speak to and keen to forge new relationships with developers in the area!

NIBE VIP installer

NIBE VIP installer

Incognito is now an accredited NIBE VIP installer. NIBE is a leading Energy Systems manufacturer in the renewable heating sector. Incognito offers renewable heating solutions in the form of ground source and air source heat pumps.

NIBE VIP installers: 

  • Have completed NIBE product training

  • Offer an extended warranty

  • Have experience fitting NIBE technology

  • Are MCS registered (essential requirement for RHI payments)

  • Are signed up to NIBE’s strict code of professional standards

NIBE VIP Installer Code of Professional Standards

  1. The NIBE VIP Installer will be the point of contact with the customer

  2. Perform professionally, competently and responsibly

  3. Comply with all relevant UK regulations, standards and codes of practice

  4. Install and commission all NIBE equipment in accordance with all NIBE’s installation manuals and procedures

  5. Complete Benchmark check list for NIBE heat pumps

  6. The operation of the heat pump and system controls are fully demonstrated to the customer

  7. Register NIBE heat pump installation on NIBE website

  8. Reply to customer enquiries in relation to NIBE products in a quick and proficient manner

  9. Keep up to date with developments in the NIBE product range and UK plumbing and heating industry

  10. Design systems to meet a minimum SPF of 3.1 for GSHP and 2.7 for ASHP

For more information click on the NIBE logo below:

Incognito introduces Prima Rebus™ screed for timber joisted first floors

Incognito introduces Prima Rebus™ screed for timber joisted first floors

The use of engineered joists is increasingly common in house construction. These provide challenges for the Underfloor Heating designer and fitter alike, as traditional installation methods must be adapted, resulting in increased costs and install times. As a result some contractors view radiators as a comfortable trade-off on upper floors. In response Incognito Heat Co. has developed the Prima Rebus™ system that overcomes these issues, and installation is carried out both quickly and safely.

Prima Rebus™ High quality floor screed for timber joisted structures.

Prima Rebus™  is a liquid pumpable self-compacting screed system with additional binders and additives which has been developed for use on timber joisted structures. The binders content means screed can be laid to depths as low as 40mm, critically reducing the weight load on supporting structure.

This means that that screeded underfloor heating systems are now doable on upper floors, where traditionally it has not been considered possible.    

When considering using this system, it is critical to ensure that supporting timber structure has been designed to accommodate the increased weight that is associated with the screed.

Incognito Heat Co work closely with architects and structural engineers prior to plans being submitted for building warrant to ensure this system is seamlessly designed in the fabric of the buildings super structure.

The system offers all the benefits of the cliprail system normally employed on a solid floor, on a timber supported floor. The cliprail system is one of the most common underfloor heating systems providing a quick, flexible and effective form of heating within a screeded floor build up. A 500 gauge polythene slip membrane is installed across the floor prior to fitting cliprails. Once the cliprails are secured in position, the underfloor heating pipework is laid in continuous loops and clipped down in accordance with the underfloor heating design drawings. Once complete, the system is pressure tested and witnessed to finalise the installation. Screeding follows quickly afterwards, which may be as thin as 40mm.

Incognito Heat Co. Prima Rebus™ is suitable for use over the underfloor heating system. PR screed is suited to both residential and commercial properties, and will help to improve the acoustic performance of the floor to meet or exceed Part E of the building regulations. Prima Rebus™ screed also improves the environmental, fire resistance and durability characteristics and gives a concrete feel to a timber supported floor. This system provides increased efficiency and maximises the Temperature Star Rating potential for clients installing ground and air source heat pumps.

Underfloor Heating Cumbria

Underfloor Heating Cumbria

Underfloor Heating Cumbria is on the up, not least because Cumbria Homes decided to add underfloor heating as an option to the homes at Carleton Manor Park in Penrith and as standard to the apartments in the Manor House. Incognito Heat Co are responsible for the design, supply and installation of the underfloor heating and floor screeds throughout the houses on this site. Cumbrian Homes developments can be found throughout Cumbria from the tranquil Eden Valley to historic Carlisle and here in Carleton, Penrith, on the edge of the beautiful Lake District National Park.  

Underfloor Heating Lake District Cumbria

Cumbrian Homes are no ordinary house builders in the Lake district, they believe that their clients should get to choose exactly what they want, and are proud of their “going the extra mile, customer led service".

Incognito Heat Co were delighted to have been chosen as Cumbrian Homes trusted underfloor heating and floor screeding specialist’s to carry out works when clients have selected underfloor heating, which is offered on this site as a luxury upgrade from the more traditional radiator heating systems.

Incognito Heat Co feel the same way about customer service, and are delighted that the majority of clients to purchase houses on this site have chosen our state of art underfloor heating systems for their homes in the Lake District in Cumbria.

Using our state of art rapid curing liquid floor screed over the underfloor heating systems means floors can be ready for their final covering (tiles, engineered timber, amtico or carpet) within 21 days of initial installation date. This is a drastic improvement on the more commonly used Anhydrite alternative which can take as long as 80 days plus (causing major headaches if you have a tight deadline to meet).

Cemfloor is a specially formulated polymer modified binder product that is used to create self-levelling, cementitious floor screeds.

Incognito Heat Co adopted this new screed material as soon as it was commercially available here in the UK in early 2017, and we’ve kept on having delighted customers ever since (including Cumbrian Homes) .

Not only does it give developers the very practical onsite benefits with the speed / quality of installation, and curing times.

It’s also a perfect match for our underfloor heating systems with its superior thermal conductivity, meaning heating systems are more reactive, and less costly to run. So it was an easy and exciting decision for Incognito Heat Co to switch to this new innovative material as soon as the benefits to developers and end users were apparent.

Underfloor Heating Carlisle Penrith Lake District Cumbria

Carleton Manor Park, Cumbria

The Cumbrian Homes Carleton Manor Park Development is in a highly desirable location in the heart of the Eden Valley and close to Penrith town centre. Building a real Stone build Manor House in the centre of the development is quite something. With prominent position across 'the green' the 'Manor' Apartment building is the visual feature of the development.  The large 'Manor' contains nine individual luxury Apartments and will all come with Underfloor Heating Cumbria, as standard.

To see more about this stunning development and how this Manor House with underfloor heating Cumbria will look like, have a look at this VIRTUAL TOUR.

Energy efficient home in East Lothian

Energy efficient home in East Lothian

When Mr & Mrs Robertson purchased the plot for their energy efficient home home in East Lothian, it wasn’t in their mind to buy the house next door as well! However as it solved many difficulties the neighbouring property was duly acquired and the project got underway. Living next door to the site did at least mean that the build progress could be monitored on a daily basis, as well as overseeing the general security of the site.

The Incognito Heat Co Installation team installing underfloor heating at this energy efficient home home in East Lothian

Energy efficient home in East Lothian

From initial sketches by Edinburgh based Camerons Architects grew the designs for a modern, super insulated, energy efficient home. Incognito Heat Co. was involved in the initial discussions with the architects to provide the heating and hot water solution. With involvement at such an early stage we were able to ensure that build methods favoured the installation of an air source heat pump.

Upper floor underfloor heating

Underfloor heating was the favoured method of heating for this East Lothian energy efficient home, for both the client and the architect. Conventionally underfloor heating is installed on ground floors; whilst wall mounted radiators are used upstairs only due to the perceived difficulties of UFH installation within a timber floor. We were keen to use underfloor heating on both floors as it can improve the efficiency of the heat pump. It was decided that the mid floor construction would be engineered for the weight of a screed allowing us to incorporate pipework easily and safely onto a timber deck.

Manufactured joists were used throughout the mid floor construction. These are lightweight alternatives to traditional solid timber joists. They save weight and natural resources whilst giving great flexibility for other trades to pass services, ducts and cables through their open web structure. The upper and lower flanges must not be cut to preserve the structural integrity of the joist, which prevents the installation of underfloor heating within the profile of the floor- in the event this isn’t such an issue as the floor is normally sheeted immediately. This stiffens the entire structure by tying each joist to another, and provides a safe working platform for all other trades.

There are compelling environmental reasons for using screed on upper floors, as well as improving the fire resistance and durability of the floor. A major component of the screed is an inert by-product of an industrial process, thus increasing the recycled content of the property. Using locally sourced aggregates and UK produced binders, (there is no cement used) there is low embodied energy in the product.

By embedding the UFH pipes in a screed it is possible to operate the heating at a lower temperature. This is most significant for the operating efficiencies of the heat pump, as less energy has to be expended to maintain comfortable temperatures within this energy efficient East Lothian home. Since the introduction of the Energy-related Products Directive, every heat pump manufacturer must provide data on the energy performance of their equipment at various temperature outputs. It is now very easy to see the impact that build method, heat emitter selection and floor coverings can have on ongoing efficiencies and therefore running costs.

Technical installation

Moving outside, the chosen air source heat pump was a 12kw unit from NIBE. This is an excellent example of Scandinavian engineering, NIBE are a company with a long proven track record in manufacturing quality renewable products. The installation was carried out under the NIBE VIP Installer scheme, the client benefitting from a seven year warranty.

NIBE heat pump

Inside the quality continues, with a 300 litre domestic hot water cylinder installed to provide plentiful hot water to the property's bathroom and three Ensuites. Early in the design process we discussed the clients’ requirements for hot water to ensure the demands of the household would be met at peak times. For properties where particularly heavy usage is envisaged we will provide larger volumes of hot water storage to suit, together with an indication of the additional energy that will be required to heat this.

A third party MVHR system (Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery) was installed. This extracts warm, stale air from wet areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and Ensuites. The air passes through an MVHR unit to extract the energy, the stale air is vented outside whilst the captured energy is transferred to incoming fresh air and ducted to living areas. A big benefit of this is a reduction in energy lost via air changes, further increasing the efficiencies of the heating system. Additionally, a 4Kw solar panel system was installed to further the energy efficiency of this East Lothian Home.

The build project was carried out by Lawrie Construction. Incognito Heat Co. worked closely with Lawrie Construction to coordinate fitting the underfloor heating and screed, the air source heat pump and DHW cylinders were fitted in compliance with current MCS standards.

Branding refresh

Branding refresh

"If it's good don't touch it!" is the general saying, just like something along the lines of: "Never change a winning team!" and "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!". All very true, but hanging on to something too long may restrict progress and after all, here at Incognito Underfloor Heating, it is all about progress and change, otherwise we would be a coal-merchant or selling stoves!

 The 'old' logo and the 'new' logo 

The 'old' logo and the 'new' logo 

Renewable energy sources in combination with underfloor heating was the future 10 years ago and still is today. In spite of the growth that Incognito has seen over the years, there is still a long way to go to before we all benefit from green energy and the comfort of underfloor heating. So we are not quite done yet!

It was therefore only appropriate to change our corporate image in accordance with what they call in marketing terms: 'within the just noticeable difference'. Hence the need to write about it in this little news blog, just in case you might have missed it...?

The unseen world of Incognito Underfloor Heating

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The unseen world of Incognito Underfloor Heating

A little introduction to this blog

Last Monday our Sales Director Andrew Skirton won the blog competition for Incognito in the class 'website worthy'. Every now and then we call a staff competition and this time it was blogging. The Marketing Manager thought that this was a great idea to get some, as he calls it, 'unique quality content', for the website. You can decide yourself if he succeeded in that..

Lets introduce the author of the article below to you first:

Portrait of Andrew Skirton drawn by a colleague in an earlier staff competition

Not sure if you have met the fellow yet but he talks just the way he writes, so here it comes:

The unseen world of Incognito Underfloor Heating

So what exactly are you on about? What do you do? How does it work? What’s so good about it? Does anyone even care? Does anyone actually want it?

In my darker moments, (do you ever get those?) the latter question pushes through my mind; it shouldn’t of course, because I absolutely believe it’s the way forward, the future, the way to go, a no brainer if you prefer.

I’m talking about our product, which is of course the best of the best, extraordinary in its simplicity, brilliant in it execution, delivering exactly what it’s designed to do, quietly, efficiently, with no fuss or excitement. In fact, you’d hardly know it was even there.

So it’s out of sight and out of mind, and easy to take for granted. However you’d certainly notice it, if for any reason it wasn’t working:)

In todays increasingly hard to please, crowded and challenging market places, where excitement thresholds are at an all time high, what is this thing? And why is it so good? And if it really is that good, why isn’t everyone using it?

Underfloor Heating Glasgow

Well it’s not particularly new. The Romans actually left us examples of underfloor heating North of Glasgow, when they were over here in Britain some 2000 plus years ago, it obviously worked well for them, and it’s widely accepted that they (the Romans) were smart people, in many ways ahead of their time with their engineering excellence.

Roman regimental bath house with underfloor heating Glasgow

Bearsden's Roman Baths (by the way did you know that Andrew is originally from Bath?!)

Air heated by two furnaces passed beneath raised floors. (Bearsden north of Glasgow)

It’s 30 percent more efficient than its more traditional alternative (come on, that’s good) are you with me?

It’s safer (again that’s good,) please do try and keep up. It works extremely well with green renewable energy (yep, that’s good as well) your catching on now, well done. It does not obstruct your interior design ideals (unlike a certain more traditional method). In short, it’s really good.

So what am I talking about? And can I justify my claims? Let me explain:

I am of course referring to “UNDERFLOOR HEATING”. Actually to be honest, explicitly, INCOGNITO HEAT CO, UNDERFLOOR HEATING.

A few fizzy facts to consider which back up my lofty claims:

Efficiencies

Underfloor heating uses the whole floor as a heat emitter, effectively turning it (the floor) into a giant radiator, typically meaning your boiler only needs to produce a flow temperature of 35 / 45 degrees to create comfort conditions. Traditionally a boiler would need to deliver 70 plus degrees for a conventional radiator system to create similar temperature levels (notice I didn’t mention comfort conditions?) That’s because an underfloor heating system delivers superior comfort conditions at lower temperatures due to its even all room no cold spots coverage.

So you don’t need to be Albert Einstein to work out that it will produce the very best comfort conditions, at significantly lower running costs in comparison to a traditional radiator system.

Safety

Let’s face it; radiators are a safety hazard which we accept just because they have always been there. But consider the cold hard facts; a radiator is a protruding oblong metal panel, with harsh edges which is normally attached to at least one of the main walls in every room of your house. When you consider that these radiators will often be too hot to touch, you can appreciate that these traditional (much loved) heat sources are in fact a very real safety hazard to all of us, but especially the very young, disabled and the old and infirm.

Renewable energy

Typically, a renewable energy ground or air source heat pump will work most efficiently when asked to produce a flow temperature of between 35 and 45 degrees, this is absolutely perfect for underfloor heating. Again, no need to consult Mr Einstein about this one, even you and I can work this out.

Interior Design

Rest easy Mr Einstein, we can work this one out for ourselves as well. With no radiators cluttering up our wall space, we can place furniture just wherever we want. Wow, that’s not bad, never realised this was an option.

Okay, I think that enough pontificating from me on the technical benefits.

So why Incognito Heat Co, who are they? How long have they been there? Where do they ply their trade? And are they the right people to consult before embarking on that exciting new house build or refurbishment?

Our head office is in Falkirk central Scotland, and from this base we operate throughout Scotland, and the north of England, with current sites ranging from Aberdeenshire, Central Scotland, the Boarders, the North East, Penrith and the Lake District. We’ve been here since 2005, and are planning to be here for many years to come (so get use to it).

Finally, are we the right people to speak to? The answer is of course a resounding “ABSOLUTLEY” Sustainable Heating is our passion, we love it. The other thing we love is complete customer satisfaction.

We have a great team, we are friendly, committed, knowledgeable, easy to work with, come on, pick up the phone and speak to one of our experts today, let start on this exciting journey!

There is more, much more, I haven’t even mentioned our floor screeds or renewable energy division yet, but and time is running out and this blog to already too long so I will leave on this final note, our people.

By far the most important component of our business, the reason we succeed, our people, we would be nowhere without them.

As the great Scottish American industrialist Andrew Carnegie once quoted “Take away my people, but leave my factories and soon grass will grow on the factory floors......Take away my factories, but leave my people and soon we will have a new and better factory." 

I will close on that inspiring note, on another day, another blog; I will do proper justice to the people who make it all happen for us.

So did he succeed?

And what do you think? We thoroughly enjoyed reading this, but we are biased because we know Andrew. So we are very much looking forward to your comments!

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Quick drying screed

Quick drying screed

It is a boast of ours that we are completely indifferent about the heat source that connects to our underfloor heating...well, when it is not one of our heat-pumps, that is. But apart from that if it produces hot water, you can connect it to one of our systems, however we do like to know what that heat source is before we start designing. If for example the heat source has a low flow temperature, we will design the system differently to a system that has a higher flow temperature. To date we can list conventional gas and oil boilers, electric boilers, ground and air source heat pumps, biomass boilers, hybrids and even AGA and Rayburn style range ovens among the appliances we connect with.

Renewable Energy

For our clients we can offer combined pump/blending valves (the most popular configuration for conventional heat sources), in-line blending valves and bare manifolds if the heat source has sufficient pump capacity. On this renewable energy project our client has fitted a Windhager pellet burning boiler, combined with an evacuated tube solar thermal roof mounted system.

Temperatures from this system therefore will potentially exceed what is regarded as the safe limit for floors, so it was necessary to incorporate a means of tempering the flow from the boiler. As the integral pump within the Windhager pellet boiler was powerful enough for the underfloor heating system, a three port blending valve was supplied. This takes water from the boiler into one port, another port takes water returning from the underfloor heating system (therefore cooler) and the resulting mix is fed to the underfloor circuits.

Quick drying Cemfloor underfloor heating screed

We were contracted to provide the underfloor heating and the screed over the pipes. The depth of screed is typically around 50-60mm. Traditionally a sand/cement screed will be laid to 65-75mm, this operation is quite labour intensive and the results we are sad to say, are only as good as the screeder doing the work. Among the advantages of flowing screed is the speed of application, 300m² to 500m² per day is easily achievable, an area that couldn’t be countenanced by manually applied methods. Access issues are overcome too, as we frequently find when confronted with difficult sites. With hoses extendable up to 100m there aren’t many places we can’t reach.