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Varis Holiday Cottage in Lochalsh

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Property owners, Debra and Gordon, purchased the house in February, 2014 to be used as a holiday-let. At the time of purchase the property had a coal stove with a back-boiler to provide space heating and hot water; however, Debra and Gordon wanted to find a financially and environmentally beneficial system which would keep their guests comfortable at any time of the year. After investigating several options, Debra and Gordon decided on an air source heat and pump (ASHP) and solar PV to complement this system by providing energy for the heat pump and the buildings lights and appliances.

Debra says:

“When we purchased the property, we really didn’t want to exchange the existing heating system for oil or electric storage heating, which seems to be a pretty standard option on the West Coast. For environmental and cost reasons, we opted for the air source heat pump to provide heat and hot water and to also use solar PV to offset the electricity demands of this system.”

The property also qualifies for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) payments which will offset some of the installation costs of £12,000 for the heat pump and £6,000 for the 4 kW solar PV system.  Debra keeps records from four meters: total electricity inport, PV generation, and the electricity used by and heat output of the ASHP. In addition, there is a live log of electricity consumption and internal temperature at: 

In order to maximise the comfort of her guests, Debra sets the heating controls to achieve 21ºC at 5pm to ensure guests returning after a day’s adventuring are welcomed to a warm house. She explains: 

“Although I set the heating to come on in the afternoon to use some of the solar PV generated electricity to power the heat pump. The system is surprisingly reactive to control changes and an increased temperature can be achieved fairly quickly if guests wish to turn up the thermostat.  Some guests from hotter climates preferred an ambient temperature of around 25ºc and the system coped with that very well.”

Overall, Debra is very happy with her renewable systems and hopes to see a good return on her investment once she has collected data from a full heating season. She has also ensured that a solar water heating system can be easily installed in the future to further increase the sustainability of the property. Furthermore, the house is being assessed for a Green Tourism award; an award of this nature will be a real boost to Debra’s achievements and for future business.

Debra is happy to discuss the technologies in-depth with anyone interested in installing renewables and is willing to accommodate visits where possible.

1965 - 1982
Heat pumpsSolar PV

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