Installation challenges result in the perfect package

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Published: 06 April 2021


Air Source Heat Pump helps bring sustainable dream to life at Yoga Retreat in rural Leicestershire

When it comes to finding the right setting to cleanse the mind, body and soul, not only do consumers want beautiful surroundings to relax in, but also a setting which operates in an environmentally-friendly way. With this in mind, a quiet air source heat pump was specified to provide heating and hot water for a new yoga studio in a pre-fabricated eco-building.

Set just outside of the medieval market town of Market Harborough, in Leicestershire, the Round Yoga Studio is located in an area off the mains gas grid. Keen to make it as sustainable as possible right from the start, the yoga studio owner wanted to ensure that the building would be kept warm in an environmentally-friendly way, which meant that traditional fuel sources for off-grid areas such as oil and LPG were out of the question.

Having had previous experience of changing from using oil-fuelled boilers to heat pumps as a heat source for her own home, the studio owner was already familiar with the benefits this low-carbon technology could offer. That’s when Indigo Renewable Energies was called upon.

Quiet and quick

After receiving the plans and the structural U values from the prefabricated building’s developer, The Rotunda, Indigo Renewables calculated the amount of heat loss for the whole property as well as for each room to inform the size of heat pump required. In addition to correct sizing, another important consideration was noise.

“Because the building was going to be mainly used as a yoga studio, the customer specifically needed a quiet heat pump,” explains Christian Ford, Indigo Renewables’ Director. “It was also going to provide hot water for two shower rooms, a bathroom with disabled access and a kitchen in the building, so the studio owner wanted a heating system which would produce hot water quickly to meet the demands of the business.”

This meant that the project required a heat pump solution which could deliver higher flow temperatures and more useable hot water when needed. By choosing an air source heat pump alongside a cylinder to store the hot water, the system can get hot water at 75°C straight from the refrigerant circuit, so that the temperature of the water in the cylinder could be as high as 70°C without the use of a direct electric immersion heater. This results in a more effective system which can deliver 25% more useable hot water. Christian adds, “Also, it’s so quiet that it made absolute sense to use it for this job.”

More flexibility

Whilst boilers are turned on and off as and when heat is required, this is not the case when using heat pumps. In order for this low-carbon technology to work in an energy efficient way, it is preferable for the unit to remain on for longer periods at a lower flow temperature. However, because the yoga studio’s occupancy levels are irregular depending on when classes were on, a buffer tank was included in the system design to give the owner more flexibility.

This set-up allows the heat pump to run for extended periods of time to charge up the buffer, from which the underfloor heating draws its heat as and when needed. By designing the system in this way, the customer would be able to achieve the energy savings expected.

To give the customer full control of the heating system, a control was specified to schedule when the heat pump comes on to warm up the buffer and produce hot water. In addition, a separate control for the underfloor heating determines when it comes on, sets and adjusts temperature levels, and when it can be turned off.

Installation challenges

They provided a turnkey heating and plumbing solution for the yoga studio, including installation of the heat pump and associated plant, underfloor heating, pipework and controls. They were also able to collaborate closely with The Rotunda from start to finish.

However, the customer decided to install underfloor heating much later in the project. By then, the building had already been prefabricated from sustainably-sourced timber and delivered onto site as panels ready for installation. So Christian and his team had to find a product which would fit the set floor height. “Luckily, we found a slim solution which worked really well. Because we had calculated each room’s heat loss, we were also able to make sure that the pipework was specified correctly.” 

The perfect package

With a sedum roof, which comprises of a layer of vegetation and living plants to cater for a variety of flora and fauna, and indoor comfort provided by low-carbon heating, the building will provide the perfect environmentally-friendly setting for yoga classes and well-being retreats. The heating system has been sized and installed in line with the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) scheme’s requirements too, so once the building is occupied and in use, the owner will be able to claim for payments to support their journey to a sustainable future.

Photo Credits: N/A Photography