Housing association aims to reduce residents' energy costsThermal Earth has worked in conjunction with Wales & West Housing to successfully increase energy efficiency and reduce running costs for tenants in a large domestic housing refurbishment in Mid Wales. Residents at Llwynbrain Close in Howey, near Llandrindod Wells, have had their conventional heating systems replaced with Thermal Earth’s MasterTherm air source heat pumps in a bid to reduce the energy usage and carbon output of the estate.

Wales & West Housing, which manages over 9,500 high quality, affordable homes in 12 local authority areas across Wales, chose Thermal Earth as the suppliers, designers and installers to refurbish the heating systems in Llwynbrain Close. The project has proved such a success that Thermal Earth has secured a second contract with Wales & West Housing for a larger 26-property development, Mill View Close, also in Howey, Powys.

Thermal Earth was tasked with replacing the old, inefficient night storage heaters with MasterTherm air to water heat pumps, which also entailed the changing of hot water cylinders and the installation of oversized radiators to account for the lower flow temperatures the heat pumps run on. The new heat pump system can heat the home as well as provide hot water and significantly reduces the domestic carbon emissions and lowers fuel bills simultaneously. It is anticipated that residents may be able to save up to 70% on running costs when compared to the old electric night storage heater, a figure of up to £1,386.80 for a three bed house, and up to 50% in comparison to an LPG heating system.

The air source heat pump works by extracting the ambient temperature from the outside air and using the heat energy to boil the circulating heat transfer fluid into gas which in turn is compressed to increase its temperature up to 70°C to then pass through the heat exchanger. The heat pump does require a small amount of electricity to run but due to the low flow temperature it requires to be at its most efficient, the tenants are guaranteed to make savings when compared to their conventional electric and oil systems.

To aid the simplicity of the new heating system MasterTherm heat pumps benefit from full online real time diagnostics. This feature gives MasterTherm and the client the ability to not only monitor the heat pump performance in real time but also the ability to make adjustments and reset the equipment remotely using any internet enabled device. Any system adjustments or investigations can be made without visiting the premises, drastically reducing unnecessary callouts for user error. The user is able to adjust heating and hot water temperatures on a screen that directly mimics the user controls in the property while installers are able to set output curves, view alarm lists and see a history of temperatures. The manufacturer and distributor benefit from the ability to alter the control algorithms, adjust the expansion valve settings and the compressor output on the inverter drive. Social Housing projects gain extensively from this feature in terms of negating the requirement for engineers or support officers to attend site.

In addition to the MasterTherm heat pumps, solar thermal panels were also installed on the roofs of the houses to maximise the hot water supplies. By using the two systems together a regular supply of hot water is maintained and the flow temperature of the heat pump does not have to be increased, therefore not reducing the energy efficiency of the new system.

Owen Jones, Sustainability Officer for Wales & West Housing explained that it was Thermal Earth’s wealth of experience in installing the technology they required that led to appointing them to be the main contractor. “In our experience the quality of the design and installation is at least as important as the technology that is being installed,” said Owen. “That’s why we were more than happy to select Thermal Earth – as they were able to provide a one-stop shop approach for the design, supply, installation, commissioning and high level of after sales support that we insist on for our residents.”

“We are very happy with the outcome of the work at Llwynbrain,” continued Owen. “It’s been remarkably plain sailing, aided no doubt by the remote monitoring and telephone support offered by Thermal Earth to our tenants.”

The second project at Mill View Close is due for completion at the end of April 2014 and will see 26 properties having the same air to water heat pumps installed with supporting solar thermal panels. Thermal Earth offers a range of air, water and ground source heat pumps for both domestic and commercial applications, supplying, fitting and maintaining all systems.