Retrofit Ground Source Heat Pumps Project

Property types: 26 bungalows, a single 3-bedroom flat and a community room

Product installed: 6kW ground source heat pump per property with individual borehole

Distribution system: New radiator systems in each property

Installation date: September 2013 to March 2014

Shortlisted in the Most Innovative Use of Renewable Energy category at the 2015 Housing Innovation Awards

The village of Clee Hill nestles some 1200 feet up in the Shropshire hills. With no access to mains gas, the residents of Three Crosses have previously relied on electric storage heaters to provide their heating needs. Unfortunately, these systems were expensive to run and unable to provide effective heating so the social housing provider concerned needed an alternative for the elderly residents in these properties.

Having employed Ice Energy Technologies to solve similar problems in other locations across their rural housing stock, the provider once again contacted them to see what solutions were available to provide cost-effective, reliable heating for the 26 bungalows, community room and a single 3-bedroom flat in Three Crosses.

Utlising Renewable Heat Premium Payment funding, Ice Energy were able to specify 6kW ground source heat pumps for each property. Drilling rigs were brought in to drill individual boreholes to access the stored solar energy the ground source heat pumps would use to heat the properties.

Placing the drilling rig was a challenge in such a small area but the teams rose to this admirably, laying boarding down to avoid damaging the grassed areas within the small close.

Under the RHPP rules, the project needed to be completed by March of 2014 to qualify for the funding which meant that the Ice Energy team would need to work through some of the coldest months of the year in an unforgiving environment. This was compounded during February of 2014 by some of the worst rainfall on record.

With the external works completed, the teams moved into the properties where the ground source heat pumps were placed within existing airing cupboards to make best use of the available space. New radiator distribution systems were installed enabling the residents to benefit from controllable heating; a far cry from the storage heaters which were invariably hot in the morning but cold when needed in the evenings.

During the course of the project, the Ice Energy team drew on their considerable knowledge, experience and diligence to meet the RHPP deadline and deliver a project which has been greeted enthusiastically by both the social housing provider and their residents alike. Several of the residents have already seen a reduction in their bills thanks to heating systems which have been almost universally lauded.

One resident, Ken Johnson said "The biggest difference is the total comfort. Anytime, day or night the heating is the same, even in the kitchen where there is no radiator.

"The bathroom is lovely and warm and I estimate I'm saving about a third on my electricity bill."

Tom and Val Cox also waxed lyrical about their heat pump saying "It's the best thing since sliced bread! It's a much more even heat and is absolutely amazing.

"We've not had to turn the fire on once since the heat pump went in. Cathy [Cathy Laycock, the Ice Energy Site Manager] and the team were magnificent in all weather conditions. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend heat pumps."

To celebrate the success of the project, an Open Day was held on June 4th 2014 where the Head of the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) at the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) was guest of honour. Sarah Redwood took the opportunity to speak with local residents and see for herself the heat pumps in operation. At the event which included a tree-planting ceremony to commemorate the day, one of the most consistent comments was that there was virtually no trace of where the works had been which is testament to the work of the Ice Energy drilling and trench teams.

So with their heat pump systems in place, the residents of Three Crosses are now enjoying warmer homes, healthier bank balances and a future of cost-effective, reliable heating whatever the weather.