Ground source review: Marsh Hill.

Ben Baglio & Richard Wilson opted for a Kensa 15kW Hybrid ground source heat pump to provide heating and hot water to their unique new build home overlooking the estuary of the River Alde in Suffolk.



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Ground source review: Marsh Hill.

In 2012, following months of house hunting to no avail, Ben and Richard decided to build their own property. They purchased a marshland plot near the River Alde, having spent many a holiday in the area. The site, which sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and partially within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), was occupied at the time by a dilapidated two-storey 1930s house. The pair decided to demolish the existing structure and start over again.

Ben and Richard enlisted the help of Mole Architects to develop the plans for their new home and Willow Builders to undertake the construction work. They were keen to create an eco-friendly, energy efficient property that would complement the picturesque surroundings using sustainable methods and materials.

Marsh Hill ground source heat pump

Environmentally friendly strategies were planned into the build: water is supplied from an on-site well, and waste water is disposed of through a treatment plant and drainage field. Ben & Richard were also keen to have a sustainable heating system for their new home and spoke to the team at AES National during the early planning stages. Ground source heat pumps were an obvious choice as there was plenty of land for slinkies, and the wet and sandy marshland offers excellent ground conductivity.

In 2013, a tidal surge unexpectedly flooded the site with sea water, breaching the river wall and causing irreparable damage. The decision was made to move the new house to higher ground, protecting it from future flooding and improving the views of the estuary. Ben and Richard also worked with a neighbour to create new earth defences.

Work began on the site in August 2014 and took just over a year to complete. The site slopes upwards from east to west and the new building complements the landscape with a grey zinc roof that curves up at one end. Ben and Richard were taken with the architect’s description of the roof as a ‘gull’s wing’, which seems apt given the richness of the bird life in the area. At its tallest point, the new brick and timber house is significantly higher than the previous one, as floor levels needed to be raised to mitigate the risk of flooding.

Kensa Twin Twin Compact ground source heat pump product banner 2

AES specified one of Kensa’s ultra-efficient 15kW Hybrid ground source heat pumps to provide 100% of the property’s heating and hot water. Underfloor heating is featured throughout, which provides a perfect heat distribution system, as ground source heat pumps are low flow temperature devices. The heat pump unit is housed in a specially created plantroom next to the kitchen.

A landscape of native coastal planting and meadow grasses hides the trenches where the slinky arrays are buried. An unexpected challenge occurred during their installation, when a high tide flooded the trenches overnight before they had been back-filled, causing them to partially collapse and washing the coiled slinky pipe away!

Marcus Horner, Director at AES National said:

Despite the challenges we faced during the installation, the customers are very happy with their ground source heat pump system, which has been up and running during a couple of very cold winters. We went back to tweak the heat pump once early on, and haven’t heard anything since, which as far as we’re concerned is a good sign!

Key Facts

  • 250m² new build property
  • 15kW Kensa Hybrid ground source heat pump
  • 4 x 50m slinkies under marshland
  • 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
  • Underfloor heating throughout