I went to Germany, where they have a reputation for excellence in heating technology. I was introduced to Peter Herdt. He is unusual as he has a commercial building project management business which takes responsibility also for the heating / fuel consumption of, for instance Lufthansa, Mercedes Benz and other high profile clients.
Peter Herdt said “there is no one silver bullet solution”, but, if I visited selected UK build and plumb trade shows, I should be able to marry the latest proven German technologies with British developments that should work and will save the home owner £1000’s on fuel and be good for the soul, whilst reducing carbon. So began a trip with a surprise outcome.
Valley View’s main heating source was to be a heat pump, which looked to be efficient … but after 2 years of testing something better was installed. At the heart of the heating, energy is stored in a special thermal store (like a battery). This ‘thermal battery of home heat’ is called on for home heating, baths and power showers. Furthermore, this thermal store allows you to reduce your reliance of any external fuel / power supplier because you have the option to additionally fit photo-voltaic or solar-thermal cells to make your own energy and home warmth!
Wembley Stadium chose under-floor heating. Peter informed me that their supplier was highly regarded and I ought to ask them to also install my pipe work. He told me how to specify and instruct their design team on how to install for an English winter climate. This enables the heating system to perform with the greatest comfort and numerous benefits have been found including better health.
For the first floor of the house, Mark was keen to provide heating that was not only highly efficient, but that would allow the ultimate flexibility with regard to furniture placement.
Clever choice of skirting radiators means the upstairs can be better utilised making each room feel more spacious.
“I had seen an entrepreneur on Dragon’s Den, who was showing his latest technology – skirting board radiators – and decided to call him. The company is now a success, selling to many top-end developers in the UK, and hospitals are choosing it. I decided to train Martin and have the radiators installed throughout the first floor. These radiators use the water from the thermal store and respond more quickly than conventional radiators and UFH so you can quickly heat up a room just before guests arrive, reducing energy to make further savings without compromise. What’s more, they are so neat and discreet that you can design your interior in the way you want, without being constrained by the positioning of old-fashioned, bulky radiators. They compliments the Under floor heating (UHF) installed throughout the ground floor.
The whole house is also equipped with a fresh-air system that not only cleans your air but also, heats it for free. And in the Summer cools your air without air conditioning noise /cost etc. NOTE; again leaning from the German experience from making the basic system simply economical and efficient, to one that is good to live with, meant researching and learning more still, before investing in a number of extra options to make life for everybody, simply better.
Fresh filtered-air not only beneficial for those who suffer with hay-fever or asthma. Built-in pipes extract stale, warm air up into the attic, where a heat exchanger separates and captures heat “energy” out of the stale air, before removing it to the outside. Fresh, filtered, clean air, replaces the stale air . The system is ideal for those with asthma (because of the removal of the existing stale or moist air ) and those with hay-fever (due to the filtering on the air introduced from outside). Everybody gains a better environment as unpleasant odours do not linger around the house from cooking, cleaning, cigarettes, pets or the bathrooms. Appreciate peace and quiet by the additional ( and quite large) air movement silencers so keeping your windows shut from the outside noises. Aesthetically no ugly window air trickle vents. Also, unlike extractor fans, the ventilation appliance runs quietly and continuously.
There is the option to add warmth to this clean air – which is done by the heat-exchanger using the ‘free’ energy taken from the extracted, stale air. Night cooling uses cool outside air to offer thermal comfort in the summer with minimum energy consumption.
In Britain, millions of people suffer from allergies and Asthma. A second feature of the home will also appeal to those with asthma, as well as those who don’t enjoy vacuum cleaning. The integral vacuum cleaning system makes cleaning easy and provides more effective cleaning. It’s twice the power. Half the weight. No dusty exhaust air to breath in making cleanliness easier, better and faster!
But it’s not just the energy provision and gadgets that are leading edge. Even the insulation and paint are unusual. The house has been extra insulated using 300mm of sheep’s wool in the attic, to keep the house warm in winter and cool in the summer. And the stylish interior has been painted with a special heat and cool reflecting paint, used by NASA on the space shuttle.
It has been estimated that all this leading edge technology will mean that the new home will require less than £800 annually to heat and cool, a level of performance that few other homes could match. As fuel prices will inevitably increase, predicted by be around 50% within the next 3 years, Valley Views’ heating will leave you less exposed to soaring cost increases that for a traditionally heated home.
Instant hot water tap convenience. Once you have one, you’ll wonder how you ever did without an instant hot water tap. No kettles, no leads, no clutter, no wasted time hanging around … just 98oC steaming hot, and cold filtered water at the flick of a lever. Much safer than a kettle – especially with children in the house.
It can provide up to 100 cups of 98oC filtered water per hour and used less energy than a 40 watt light bulb. It is therefore much less expensive to operate than an electric kettle.
The bathrooms – relax and refresh in luxurious, homely surroundings.
The taps – all have been chosen because they have a silk-like movement – so easy to use and a joy to control.
The bathroom products – baths, showers etc. are also Italian design promoting a heightened sense of well-being and pleasure. I was able to visit the factory in Stoke-on-Trent, where I saw the use of materials to create products with passion (Yes, I know it’s only a shower) – to create highly desirable bathrooms that not only look good but perform to the highest standards.
The relaxing showers have been proven to use less water and require less heating than normal showers, to give you the feel of luxury but not the running costs. The designer says “ensuring perfect proportions and consistent geometry, the coordinated hand and head showers enhance the visual appeal and celebrate water” The head show can be swivelled to the optimum position and is supplemented by the award-winning hand shower. Winner of the iF” product design award, a reliable and trusted indicator of outstanding quality recognised the world over.
The Fired Earth iridescent tiles have rainbow colours that appear to move and change as the angle at which they are seen changes. No picture can capture them quite like seeing and touching them for real.
Broad oak floor boards and the Jericho floor is a limestone that has been naturally compressed into a marble, it is strong, durable and really does need to be touched to be appreciated.
From the Architect designed, Gherkin influenced curved wall to the huge windows, (We chose such big windows as the light adds to your well-being and optimism for you and your family and guests - even though they are 500% less efficient than our insulated walls - made of sustainable hard wood and including another joyful design feature you will only see on your visit to Valley Views - Wouldn’t you agree, the result is worth it?)
Do you believe ... Life is too short and precious, if so, shouldn’t we try to make going home more Wonderful?
Genuine natural materials, not imitative - they not only look better, but the right specification lasts longer.
A GRAND DESIGN THAT CAN SAVE YOU MONEY
Nestling in the quiet village of Shrawley, only yards away from 450 acres of woodland, valleys and rivers, but accessible from Birmingham, Solihull, Worcester and Cheltenham. There is also a lovely country pub and an historic 1,000 year old village church just a short stroll over the fields.
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