Efficient heating and hot water

by Gill Deeks
13th July 2010

We started this month by taking a well-earned rest! We spent a few days in Oxfordshire to catch our breath, which was great.

For seven days a week, for the past four months, we have been up at 7am every day and not finishing earlier than 7pm at night. So, as soon as the glazier had come in to fit the French doors in the lounge and we could lock up the house, we set off.

One of the best things to happen on site is that the scaffolding has completely come down now. It makes a huge difference and we can see the result of all our hard work!

It also meant that we were able to organise an engineer to come to fit the air source heat pump, which stands outside the house and powers the heating.

Supplied by Earth Save Products, it is an extremely clever system, which combines an air source heat pump and a buffer tank – the latter making sure that the cycles of the heat pump are fewer in number, generating more savings.

It saves in excess of two tonnes of carbon per year compared with other forms of heating, so genuinely reduces your carbon footprint. By installing this, it gives us the extra points needed to achieve our Code Level 3 and guarantees us low heating costs for 20 years.

We decided not to use our outdoor-mounted air source heat pump for generating hot water (even though it can) because all air source heat pumps lose efficiency the further you drive the heat generation above 45˚C.

In addition, it would mean running the 11kW unit in summer just to produce hot water – which doesn’t make sense. Besides, the deal we have with Earth Save Products on both the outside ASHP and the hot water unit, the Ecocent, still left us change out of our planned spend on a heating system!

The Ecocent sits inside the airing cupboard in the house and is a more efficient, lower running cost option for hot water.

It has an integrated hot water cylinder and small heat pump, and takes the warm air from the shower area and reuses it to generate our hot water – expelling the cold air into the atmosphere (or we can use it for cooling) and dehumidifying the shower area in the process.

This is reusing heat that would normally be wasted through an extractor fan, so we really are getting more out of the available (and often wasted) heat in the house. It’s very inexpensive to run and will cut our hot water bills by at least 70%.

The Ecocent is also MCS Accredited under the Exhaust Air category and contributes to our Code assessment – one of only two units in the world that can (at the time of writing) for this kind of heat recovery.

It gives us fantastic hot water, on tap, 365 days a year. So, in this respect, it is giving us more than solar panels can – it also gives us free cooling in summer, which is great for the bedrooms.

We could go on and on about the Ecocent. Have a look on the internet yourself at www.esavep.com for more information.

We would use Earth Save Products again, without hesitation. It’s a small company with simply brilliant service. We can talk to the team seven days a week and there are no ‘office hour’ limits – any time we want advice or to check out ideas, we just call them and they are there; which is very important for self builders and has made a big difference for us.

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