Renewable energy encompasses any technology that takes its energy from the natural resources of the sun, wind, tides and ground. ‘Renewable’
Currently no single technology offers a complete solution, so the way to achieve the most energy efficient system is to integrate several technologies. Nu-Heat has been researching the different options available based around its range of products.
Most of the heating systems in our homes run at 70 - 80°C but heat pumps can work efficiently at temperatures as low as 35 - 45°C. Underfloor heating is an ideal partner for heat pumps as it works efficiently with low temperatures, although factors such as floor coverings have to be considered as this will influence the performance.
Connecting a heat pump with radiators used to be impractical, as the reduction in flow temperature would require a standard radiator to be approximately 250% bigger than normal! However, new high-efficiency radiators (incorporating low energy fans that cut in if the temperature drops below a certain level) are a similar size to regular models giving a more realistic alternative. Using the same radiator type, underfloor heating downstairs can also be combined with radiators upstairs, although it’s important that the temperature of both elements is kept exactly the same to maintain the effectiveness of the heat pump.
For an even more efficient system, solar thermal can be added into the design to supply domestic hot water. For this, a hot water cylinder with solar coil will be needed. With different controls for the separate elements of such a system, it’s important that the controls work in harmony and are correctly programmed. It helps the supplier to know when heating and hot water is likely to be used and the estimated water usage for a property.
A holiday cottage development in Awliscombe near Honiton is a good example of how an energy efficient system can be successfully installed. The conversion of two derelict barns into three contemporary holiday cottages utilises a combination of underfloor heating and air source heat pumps. The farm buildings were Grade II listed, so the way the internal space was used for the conversion was crucial, as the existing ‘footprint’
When thinking about renewable products and systems, it’s good to talk to local experts who can give advice about what will and won’t work. For example, a heat pump may not be the right product for a poorly insulated older property but solar thermal could be a suitable alternative. A reputable supplier will be able to put you in touch with an experienced renewables installer.
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Nu-Heat is the largest specialist supplier of warm water underfloor heating systems to the UK domestic market, delivering fully designed underfloor systems to housebuilders and installers nationwide.