Housing Specification Blog

Case Study: Nottinghamshire Farmhouse Undergoes Restoration

August 21, 2012 Alexandra Blakeman Housing Design

Mark and Julie Burton moved into their beautiful farmhouse home in the north Nottinghamshire countryside 14 years ago. The picturesque small-holding, near Mansfield, dates back to the 1500s but was in desperate need of restoration. The horse-loving couple undertook a labour of love in restoring the property into a comfortable family home and when they needed more space for their two children (nine-year-old Harvey and eight-year-old Alexandra) Mark decided to build a large extension to the rear of the house.

Having already converted out-buildings to stables for Julie’s dressage horse and Alexandra’s show ponies, as well as renovating the original building, Mark (43) decided to really put his DIY skills to the test by preparing his own working drawings and set out to complete the entire build by himself.

As Development Manager for E2 Environmental Engineering and having worked as for a building contractor during school holidays and weekends as a teenager, Mark had a pretty good idea of what he was doing. He quickly realised that he wanted to complete the work in the most sustainable way – by sourcing products locally and minimising waste. Stone, sand and oak were all found nearby and after some bedtime reading about historic English carpentry, Mark even set about making oak braced roof trusses, like those that would have been used in the original 16th Century building.

Having set off along the road to sustainability, Mark turned his attention to how the building would be heated. He explains: “I installed under floor heating throughout the ground floor of the extension and standard radiators in the upper floor. Once I made a connection onto my existing plumbing I soon realised that the oil fired boiler I had installed nearly nine years ago was not able to cope with another 100 square metres of heating.”

This left Mark with a dilemma. When he first installed the oil boiler (the property is not connected to the mains gas supply) heating oil was less than 20 pence a litre. In December 2010 that figure had rocketed to 75 pence per litre. Mark needed to find a suitable alternative to both protect against future oil price rises and to provide a more sustainable heating solution.

As the family owns several acres of land adjacent to the house, a ground source heat pump system was an option, but as these systems can only supply low water flow temperatures the traditional cast iron radiators already in the house would need to be replaced. This would also be the case if low temperature air-water heat pumps were used.

Heat pumps from Daikin Altherma

It seemed to Mark that the obvious solution was a high temperature system from Daikin Altherma. This system is capable of providing flow temperatures of up to 80°C, more than adequate for the radiators in the home and able to supply all of the family’s domestic heating and hot water requirements, even when the outside temperature falls to minus 20°C.

Mark continues: “The Daikin Altherma High Temperature system ticked every box.  I could retrofit the unit as a direct replacement for my costly, inefficient oil fired boiler with the reassurance of relatively stable energy prices throughout the year and no fears that the £700 worth of oil stored outside in a plastic tank might be stolen.”

Working at a company, which specialises in renewable technologies gave Mark full assurance that Daikin Altherma was the way forward.  He selected two 16kw high temperature systems for the property and is delighted with the result.

“The indoor units look very sleek indeed in my utility room and the outdoor units positioned over 30 metres away on the barn are very discrete. Sitting out, drinking wine on the patio during summer months will no longer be tainted by the vent from the oil boiler with essence of burning kerosene!  Another bonus is just how quiet the system is. A boiler firing up makes a noise, but the heat pump isn’t noticeable.”

The Daikin Altherma High Temperature system was the perfect choice for this retrofit project as air-water heat pumps are an exceptionally efficient solution for space heating, providing seasonal efficiencies of more than 300% and potentially lower energy bills for the end user, as well as a 30 to 50% reduction in carbon emissions.

The project is proof that heat pumps are no longer only a viable alternative for new build properties. Several years ago, when most air-water heat pumps were only capable of providing flow temperatures of up to 50 to 55°C – ideal for under floor heating solutions – it was undoubtedly the case that heat pumps were most suited new builds. But the introduction of a new generation of heat pumps, such as the Daikin Altherma HT means it is possible to deliver water flow at high temperature, suitable for heating both homes and their hot water supplies, even in harder to heat properties.


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