Are heat pumps in Scotland a good investment? How do they work and what are the benefits?
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Are heat pumps in Scotland a good investment? How do they work and what are the benefits?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Interior photography Edinburgh by STUDIOVHF
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:
Not sure if you have met the fellow yet but he talks just the way he writes, so here it comes:
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Working within the constraints of a listed building will be a very familiar situation for builders operating in the city of Edinburgh. Having successfully worked in a number of prestigious Edinburgh townhouses in the past, we were asked by a specialist building contractor to provide an underfloor heating solution for a large terraced property in the New Town.
Each level of the property was to be heated with underfloor heating; no increase of floor height would be acceptable, and a mix of solid and suspended timber floors was going to be encountered between the basement and ground floors.
At basement level the existing floor was excavated during the project, which allowed for insulation to be fitted. The AmbiTak system was employed throughout this level, pipework was secured to the insulation using barbed staples. Pipework followed the ‘snail’ pattern ensuring an even spread of warmth across the floor.
For the installation of this underfloor heating system in Edinburgh, we were very conscious of the need to keep the environment clean when carrying out our screed pours. Luckily the property still retained the coach house with access to the lane behind. From this point we were able to set up our screed pump and run hoses into the basement. Taxing the patience of Edinburgh’s traffic attendants, we were able to pump six and a half cubes of anhydrite screed in just a few minutes, had a traditional sand/cement screed been applied this process would have taken many times longer.
The screed is a mix of sand, binders and clean water. It is a cement free product, therefore much easier on the environment. As it is liquid when applied, the screed can envelope the pipework, increasing the surface area to emit heat into the floor. Laboratory tests indicate that anhydrite floors warm up 30% faster than sand/cement floors as a result.
Elsewhere in the property we encountered joists- serious pieces of timber! The existing floorboards were lifted to expose the joists; typically these were centred at 18” (give or take a bit.) To cope with the slightly wider joist centres, aluminium heat diffusing plates were manufactured to suit. This reduced the need to carry out additional joinery work in getting the plates to fit.
As underfloor heating manifolds would look out of place in such an environment we went to great lengths to ensure these were concealed, but still accessible. When the manifold for the ground floor proved too long for its intended housing we provided two shorter ones stacked one above the other.
On each landing throughout the property beautiful cast iron radiators have been installed- these have been connected into the same manifolds as the underfloor heating. We supply 15mm adaptors to take industry standard plumbing pipe; each radiator in the property can be controlled individually, preventing the wasteful habit of heating the whole house when only part of the house is occupied.
The whole project has been a great example of a 19th Century property with an infusion of 21st Century technology. Each zone is controlled by its own NEST thermostat, allowing the homeowner to monitor and adjust the temperature from their smart phone or tablet, from anywhere in the world.
In February 2015 the contract for underfloor heating and screed works was awarded to Incognito Heat Co for 25 residential apartments in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh based quality property developers, AMA Homes choose Incognito Heat Co as their trusted underfloor heating partners for the exciting development of 25 luxury apartments in McEwan Square, Fountainbridge, close to the vibrant heart of Edinburgh City.
We were delighted to accept the challenge. Tasked with designing, supplying and installing underfloor heating systems in each apartment, as well as supplying and fitting the flooring grade insulation and liquid flowing anhydrite floor screeds, throughout.
As you can expect from Incognito Heat Co, we delivered this project, to our clients full satisfaction, on time and in budget, with absolute minimal disruptions to other trades we were working alongside.
Our involvement began at the design stage, Initially working closely with the AMA Homes team of architects and consulting engineers. We established the needs, and set about designing systems that had to be a) user friendly, and b) would efficiently create luxury comfort conditions, in a quiet, calm and healthy environment.
The AmbiTak UFH system was selected in conjunction with a laminated and gridded EPS insulation board which provides the base on which the underfloor heating (UFH) pipework was attached. The insulation was laid directly onto the concrete sub floor, pipework then laid in continuous loops, and clipped down in accordance with our designs. Once this process has been completed, and pipework pressure tested, we then pumped in a liquid flowing screed to a depth of 55mm throughout, providing 100% encapsulation of UFH pipework. As well as giving a perfectly flat level floor, this screed has excellent thermal conductivity, making it the perfect counterpart for an efficient underfloor heating system.
Although this underfloor heating Edinburgh development was not without its fair share of challenging situations, which ranged from pumping screed material up six floors, to finding suitable parking without incurring the wrath of the local traffic wardens, we overcame, we resolved and delivered exactly what we promised.
Project was completed, commissioned, and handed over in October 2015, the work was done, and our team our rightly proud of what they have achieved whilst working closely with AMA Homes Edinburgh.
Our warm congratulations to the everyone who worked so hard to make this happen, they can deservedly relax in the knowledge that comfort conditions “beyond the ordinary” will be enjoyed for many years to come by the residents of McEwen Square in Edinburgh.