Polypipe Heat Recovery Systems Provide 'Restoration Man' Project with Energy Efficient Solution
Filmed for Channel 4’s hit TV show Restoration Man, Pete and Nikki’s dream of restoring a derelict windmill in Kent that has been owned by Pete's family for over 100 years came to fruition in 2011 in front of the eyes of thousands of viewers.
Locally listed and in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the heart of the county, the windmill had been a roofless ruin since 1915. Pete and Nikki’s plan was to restore and adapt the structure into a usable family home. The end result is a truly beautiful character property featuring the restored windmill linked by a glass structure to a purpose built barn house. Just as importantly, the property is a fully functioning home that is a delight to live in.
A key consideration of the build was energy efficiency, as owner Pete Fagg explains: “it was absolutely an important consideration, but we wanted to be sensible about this. There are no eco warriors involved! We looked at what is acceptable versus what is ideal and picked the best compromise. We tried to keep a level head on what was really required and practical”.
“We were struggling to make the building efficient enough to use an air source heat pump, which was our heating of choice. This is a building of two parts, one new and one needing tlc, so that also needed to be taken into account. We examined the different options and in the end decided heat recovery technology provided us with the solution and had several other potential benefits. Fitting heat recovery systems in both parts of the building provided us with the final element that tipped the balance – recovering most of the 20% normally lost to ventilation - now it only takes 10kw to heat to 18° when it’s 3° outside. This increased overall efficiency enough to allow us to use air source heat pump technology as the primary heat source.
“This in turn saw us jump nearly two levels in the Code for Sustainable Home calculations. The target was exceeding Building Regulations by 18%; by allowing us to use a renewable heat source the combination we now have pushes us to more like 50% on CO2 at least.”
Two Polypipe Ventilation HR Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems have now been installed at the unique Kent property. These Energy Saving Trust Best Practice compliant and SAP Q rated systems work by warming fresh air drawn into the building with the heat from waste stale air – as found in the kitchen or bathroom for example - using an efficient counter flow heat exchanger, thus reducing the need for heating. An average bathroom full of moist air can contain over 600 Watts of heat energy and is exhausted twice every hour. Polypipe HR appliances can recover more than 92% of this heat directly, saving costs and reducing carbon emissions.
A Polypipe HR01L unit, capable of servicing up to two wet rooms and a kitchen, has been fitted in the windmill, extracting from the en suite and kitchen and feeding the bedroom.
Polypipe’s top of the range HR03L has been installed in the adjoining barn, extracting from the bathroom, en suite, utility room and toilet. and supplying the living room and the three bedrooms. The HR03L is able to work at up to 640 Pascals of pressure, allowing for very long duct runs, making them suitable for larger domestic properties, whilst remaining extremely compact and light weight.
The units have been supplied by Polypipe as part of a complete system, with Polypipe’s Domus rigid flat channel ducting and accessories, including air valves, Microban protected silencers and duct sealant, used throughout. When used with Domus ducting systems, Polypipe’s HR units provide one of the most effective MVHR systems available in the market, offering guaranteed whole system performance which can be achieved thanks to the exacting manufacturing tolerances of the duct system, virtually eliminating air leakage and minimising pressure drops.
For Pete and his builders, this was a welcome solution: “Having a complete solution was an important consideration. Polypipe was able to provide everything we needed for the heat recovery system, which was great and made it easier for the builders.” Although aware of the concept, Pete’s builders hadn’t installed a heat recovery system before, but according to Pete they found it to be quite straightforward: “they sussed out where to run all the ducting and how to hide it, either in false walls or hidden behind beams”.
Polypipe’s HR MVHR systems have provided a number of other benefits for Pete’s property, most noticeably - and unexpectedly - the overall quality of the living environment. ““In the older part it is essential that the fabric of the building is allowed to breathe and the system allows us to do this behind the scenes, whilst at the same time offering all the benefits of improved air quality. As a result, it’s a really nice house to live in. It always feels warmer and more comfortable than the temperature gauge says it is and this is down to the combination of heat recovery and air source heat pump - it works very well. What’s more, the air quality is good. Nikki had hay fever but the system filters out the pollen, which we really liked the sound of.”
With an old building such as this, work is ongoing and Pete has plans to further adapt the MVHR system to maximise solar gain within the building in the winter. This will help reduce heating requirements and maintain equilibrium throughout the different areas of the structure.
In the meantime, the MVHR system continues to perform efficiently - and quietly, according to Pete. “It’s a surprisingly quiet system. In fact, I can’t hear it at all - it’s silent in operation. I don’t even know it’s there which is great. It’s just getting on with its task behind the scenes so to speak.”
Our heartfelt sympathy goes to Pete and his family who sadly lost Nikki to cancer during this restoration project. Nikki's Trust has been set up by the family to promote awareness of and accessibility to the HPV vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer, as well as working with palliative care specialists to help improve the lives of those suffering with bone cancer pain. Please visit www.nikkistrust.co.uk to find out more and support the trust directly.