Cheap bills don’t cost the Earth

West Ford Farm in Rivenhall, Essex was transformed from a pair of dated semi-detached cottages into a spacious single residence by building contractor Michael Macnamara of Miron UK Ltd. After much deliberation between installing traditional radiator heating and an under floor heating, he visited the Home Renovation Show, where he was impressed with the heating and cooling options offered by a Unico System. Opting for a geothermal energy source powered by a three phase converter the Unico option was favoured.

In the UK solar and geothermal energy maintain sub-surface temperatures of 7 to 10C even in the winter. At West Ford Farm six pipes were sunk 100 feet into the ground to utilise the latent heat energy. Although this work was more expensive than installing a conventional boiler, this environmentally-friendly, renewable energy source is - in essence - free. A heat pump was used to ‘compress’ the low-grade geothermal heat, increasing the temperature sufficiently to provide not only heating but also hot water. By operating the system in reverse the house is cooled without the need of a separate condenser, as the extensive underground pipe network itself took on this function.

Once the geo-thermal heat is delivered to the air handler module, the Unico system then plays its part in the environmentally friendly cycle and reduction in running costs by ensuring an energy-efficient transfer to the high-velocity air handling system. With its ability to take hot water at a lower temperature than comparable systems, the Unico System is even more fuel-efficient and set to save approximately 75% off the heating bill for life.

A single air handler was sufficient for West Ford Farm, although different zones within the house can be isolated and the temperature controlled independently using motorised dampers. These thermostatically-controlled devices open and close ducts, adjusting airflow and therefore temperature as required.

In case the geothermal system failed, or for when it required servicing, Mr Macnamara installed an electric battery system as a back-up. “I was impressed with the versatility of the system,“ he says, “being able to line up another energy source to run the Unico system in an emergency was reassuring.”

The owner is also pleased with the comfortable, uniform heating and cooling produced by the system. He comments: “Even visitors have noticed how there are no hot or cold spots around the house. Not only are we benefiting form being able to cool the home, it is probably the only fully air conditioned home in the area, which no doubt will add desirability and market value to the property.”

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