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Ground source heat pump warms guests at country house hotel

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 16 December 2013 at 10:10 am

A newly-installed ground source heat pump is set to save an Elizabethan country house hotel £10,000 a year. 

Historic Soulton Hall in Wem, Shropshire, has replaced traditional fossil fuels with two Stiebel Eltron ground source heat pumps, generating green hot water and heating for the 30-room manor house and the coach house.

 “We are delighted that the heat pump system has been commissioned and is now up and running,” says hotel owner Tim Ashton. 

“The heat pump is taking the constant 10°C temperature under one of our fields to meet all our hot water and heating demands.

“Ground source was always going to be a great option for us as we have plenty of space for collectors – the ground loops here are under an area of 3 acres. We were also able to easily convert the former log store into a plant room.”

The pump is partially powered by a mixture of ground mounted solar PV arrays combined with small arrays on various outbuildings which together have a peak output of 50kW. A buffer tank stores energy to provide back-up power when needed. 

The entire project cost around £70,000 to install, plus an extra £10,000 for unforeseen costs such as putting in place efficient land drainage measures. 

However, through fuel savings and around £4,500 a year in renewable heat incentive (RHI) payments, the system will be expected to pay for itself within 8-10 years. After that there will be a further 10-12 years of RHI payments, meaning heating the whole property will be very cheap. Then running costs will rise again once the RHI runs out.  

"In the long run this will still be an expensive place to heat," Tim explains, "but what we have done is install a system which will eventually pay for itself and then protect us from future fuel price rises."

The system was installed by YouGen member Total NRG.

“This has been a fantastic project to work on,” says director Bryan Jones. “The hall itself is stunning and the site really lends itself well to green energy.

“As there was plenty of ground space available, we decided to go with a twin ground source heat pump system, with a Stiebel Eltron WPF27HT heat pump working alongside a Stiebel Eltron WPF35 heat pump.

“The WPF27HT is providing heating and hot water, while the WPF35 is being used for heating only – with a total output of 62kW. We designed the system so that in the summer months only 27kW is needed, reducing energy usage and costs.

“The WPF27HT unit also pasteurises the 1,000-litre DHW cylinder instead of using an immersion element, which increases the overall efficiency of the system.

“We laid 3,800m of ground loop with a pre-assembled manifold chamber which is 90m away.”

More information

YouGen guide to heat pumps

YouGen guide to the renewable heat incentive

YouGen guide to solar electricity

From the blog

Key things to consider before installing a heat pump (April 2013)

Domestic renewable heat incentive: your questions answered (July 2013)

Heat pumps: good and bad installations (Sept 2010)

Heat pumps: 12 things to consider before installing one (Sept 2010)

Air source heat pumps keep hotel guests happy, warm and intrigued (Feb 2013)

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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3 comments - read them below or add one


RobsmumComment left on: 15 January 2014 at 6:06 pm

Tasha , thank you , very informative . 

Indeed I have read all the blogs on YouGen re GHSP's  -  this has to be the way forward .  Hopefully when we move  ( Somerset ) and re config some of the rooms we can then get in a local ' expert ' who can guide us with all the options available . 


Will be in touch for some recommendations and certainly an update on progress . 

Without doubt your average of £80 per month is very appealing !! 

kind regards




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Tasha Kosviner

Tasha KosvinerComment left on: 15 January 2014 at 12:56 pm

Hello Robsmum

Thank's for getting in touch.

Providing you have enough outdoor space, you're absolutely right to consider a ground source heat pump (GSHP) to replace your electric storage heating system. You're also right to tackle the heat loss problem first as heat pumps are only really economical to run in very well-insulated properties.

A ground source heat pump works best with underfloor heating, but naturally this is also the most expensive to install and may not be a viable option in a retrofit property (as opposed to a new build). After underfloor heating, installers tend to consider a system linked to radiators. Radiators heated with heat pumps need to be slightly larger than those in a traditional central heating system as water is heated to a lower temperature with a heat pump.

Although the ground-to-air pump system you mentioned is theoretically possible, you may encounter a number of obstacles.

The first is that they are not commonly used and you may struggle to find a manufacturer that makes them, or an installer experienced in installing them. 

Even if you did - and where there's a will there's a way - you may find that because air does not contain a lot of heat to volume compared to water, you'd need to have very large ducts installed to create sufficent heat. This may present constructional problems greater than installing the water pipes needed for a ground to water system. It may also be harder to control the delivery of heat into the house as heat in air is harder to adjust than heat in water.

Finally, and this may be the deciding factor if you're motivated by cost, a ground to air system is not eligible for the government's domestic renewable heat incentive scheme when it comes into force this spring (2014).

You can find out loads more information in YouGen's guide to heat pumps, where you'll also find links to a number of other YouGen blogs offering information and tips to anyone considering installing a heat pump. 

One more thought: if outdoor space is at a premium, you may consider an air source heat pump instead? They are slightly less efficient than GSHPs but require far less disruption for installation, and are hence slightly cheaper. I had one installed in my 1950s chalet bungalow to replace an electric storage heating system. It is linked to underfloor heating downstairs and large radiators upstairs. Now we've got the insulation issue fully tackled, we are enjoying a lovely warm home with bills that average out at a very palatable £80 a month.

Good luck with your installation and let us know how you get on!


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RobsmumComment left on: 14 January 2014 at 4:15 pm

I am reading everything I can at the moment about GSHP's . About to move to a bunglalow , currently heated with electric storage heaters as no gas , it seems a sensible option . Is it possible to have a GSHP system with air vents , and if so , would this be a less expensive option than installing radiators ?  

The building has ten rooms and a large hall area , three rooms being upstairs .

I believe there is cavity wall insulation , but I suspect that with some dodgy windows and a large flat roof area , the current heat loss is quite substancial ! Our first mission is to plug the gaps and then investigate the GSHP option this summer , bing fully prepared for winter . All help / advice needed ! 


many thanks 


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