The secret to warm and happy guests all year round

In the depths of winter we all long for those halcyon, warm days of holidays.

Find out how one glamping site in rural Wales has used innovative renewable technology to provide warmth to its guests all year round, minus the high heating prices and servicing costs, and gets a nice return through a Government incentive on the side.

Background

The Phillips’ run www.thesecretyurts.co.uk, a holiday business in the heart of the Welsh countryside offering visitors the option to stay in a recently refurbished holiday cottage or experience ‘glamping’ in their own luxury yurt complete with underfloor heating, private bathrooms and showers.

They were looking to replace the old oil-fired boiler heating their family farmhouse and holiday cottage as it was expensive to run and they had problems getting supplies in bad weather due to their rural location. The Phillips’ had also recently built a luxury facilities block for their guests, including a fully fitted kitchen, plus a hot tub, for which they also needed a heating solution.

The Phillips’ had heard about Kensa Partner Installer Ground Sun from an architect and contacted the firm to discuss renewable heating options. They were keen to develop their green credentials, which already included a rainwater harvesting system, so that their customers could enjoy a holiday in the UK with a low carbon footprint.

Mr Phillips said:

“Living where we do, surrounded by rolling Welsh hills, we are very conscious that our luxury holiday accommodation should strive towards being eco-friendly. To do this we decided we wanted a heating system that paired technological innovation with natural resources. It is also very important for our guests to be comfortable during their stay with access to a constant supply of heating and hot water.”

The Phillips’ decided on a ground source heat pump because it offered low running costs and a reliable heat supply. In order to meet the amount of heat required across the multiple buildings, a Kensa 21kW Hybrid Twin ground source heat pump was specified, capable of delivering high levels of heating and hot water.Sunrise at The Secret Yurts

How it was done

Due to the development being located on the side of a hill on which trees had been planted in the last five years, there was not enough flat land available in which to dig trenches for slinky pipe. Their appointed groundworks contractor, Ground Sun, was able to use a non-disruptive and efficient borehole drilling method which has been adapted from techniques used to create utility networks for powerlines and gas mains. A radial drilling rig was used to drill four 127m horizontal closed loop boreholes up to 9m deep, from which heat energy stored in the ground could be extracted.

For this pioneering method, Ground Sun used a specially adapted drilling rig with ‘no dig’ technology, which meant that all the drilling was done from one chamber thus avoiding potentially disruptive excavations. The rig also allowed Ground Sun to use sonar to steer along the water level and navigate through challenging geology made up of clay, gravels and large boulders that had to be drilled straight through!

Overall, the installation process was fairly quick, taking a total of just five days.

A plantroom houses the Kensa ground source heat pump, plus a 1250l hygienically safe hot water and buffer tank.

The Phillips’ family farmhouse is a 200 year old stone cottage with minimal insulation, so to ensure that the heat pump achieved the required temperature, Ground Sun advised the Phillips’ to replace some of their existing radiators with oversize versions. They also took care to ensure all heat loss calculations were correct and that the hot water tanks were properly sized to ensure a consistent flow temperature across the system. It was particularly important to ensure that the hot water never ran out, as the Phillips’ are a family of six, plus guests staying in the holiday cottage and yurt campsite created a high demand for hot water.

In order to further increase the efficiency of the system, Ground Sun also installed solar thermal panels on the roof to collect solar energy, which contributes to servicing the heating and hot water load all year round. Underfloor heating was also installed into the newly built facilities block which further enhances the efficiency of the ground source heat pump.

As the development features multiple properties which are rented out separately, it is eligible for the Non Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This enabled the Phillips’ to receive 20 years’ worth of quarterly payments from the Government based on the buildings’ metered heat usage.

The Phillips’ are delighted with their heat pump which compliments the green credentials of their holiday business:

“Our Kensa heat pump is now in operation for its second winter and has experienced external temperatures down to -6°C. Our family and guests staying at ‘The Secret Yurts’ have always had ample hot water, our house is warm throughout the year for the first time ever and we don’t have to worry about buying oil! The underground pipe installation was great with virtually no disruption to our land and no messy trenches to fill in!

Above all the support from Ground Sun and Kensa during installation, set up and beyond has been fantastic. We would recommend such an installation to anybody considering moving to a renewable heating system.”

Kensa’s Marketing Manager Stephanie Gregory explains:

“A typical holiday lodge with availability to rent all year round might expect to generate over £13,000 in RHI income over the 20 year lifetime, while actually the cost to run the heat pump itself is less than half the cost of the associated RHI income (per kilowatt hour), meaning park operators can cost effectively keep lodges warm even when unoccupied, helping to mitigate problems with damp and providing a warm welcome for the next set of guests.”

With energy costs and environmental sustainability important issues for those in the leisure sector, holiday parks operating over the autumn, winter and early spring would do well to consider the profitable opportunities of renewable, ground source heating for their property portfolio.