I imagine choosing a heating system is one of the trickiest parts of building a house. The choice on the Isle of Skye is restricted to electricity (or oil). There is no gas network. In Scandinavia, ground source heat pumps are hugely popular and despite the staggering capital costs involved we have decided to install one. It goes something like this:
1) Drill a hole (commonly referred to as a borehole) roughly 150m deep or trenches in your garden (if big enough).
2) Insert a pipe into said hole.
3) Connect the pipe to a ground source heat pump.
4) Fill with a glycol mixture and turn on.
The theory is quite simple(!) The system works similar to that of a fridge but in reverse. The ground retains heat throughout the year. This ‘stored’ heat is absorbed by the collector loop and returned to a compressor in the pump which transfers this heat to the house. We decided early on to make savings on the design/build do that we could use this system.
A benefit of installing such a system is that it can be complemented by PV and solar thermal roof panels or wind to provide a carbon neutral (in theory free or at least a very cheap) heating system.
In the United Kingdom the government is also introducing the Renewable Heat Incentive which provides an income (currently set at 0.18 pence per kWh for a residential dwelling) so the technology should pay for itself over time. Visit the Energy Saving Trust website for further details here: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk or for a simple explanation see HERE
We are planning on installing a NIBE heat pump (common in Scandinavia) which for every kWh (unit) of energy used should return four times the amount. This is known as the CoP (Co-efficient of Performance). In simple terms it should save approximately 80% energy of a conventional system. You can find more information on NIBE’s products and services here: www.nibe.co.uk
Hopefully then not a choice between heat and eat – especially in a week when the major power companies announced price rises in the region of 10%.