Case study: The Stud, Cornwall

A barn conversion in Cornwall sees homeowner Stephen Chidgey blend old with the new.

What makes this build truly admirable is its synergy with the environment through both its sympathetic design and use of renewable technologies.

Featuring a Kensa ground source heat pump (GSHP), as well as solar thermal panels, LED lighting, and plans for a small wind turbine, ‘The Stud’ is no average barn conversion.

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Nestled deep in a peaceful hamlet in mid Cornwall resides an eco dream-house boasting charm and luxury throughout. The vision of Stephen Chidgey, the owner and self builder with who credit lies for the luxury home stay, the ‘Stud’ as it is appropriately named is a barn conversion for the 21st century, sporting all of the mod cons one would expect of a city pad, but in the centre of beautiful, rural Cornwall.

My motivation for this project was to make the barn sustainable, affordable and to displace oil by use of ground source and solar thermal”, Stephen asserts, “the savings by not having oil are amazing, not to mention a warmer more even heat throughout the property.

But how did Stephen go about this renovation project, and what were the deciding factors?

From the offset I wanted to displace the barn’s former fuel source (oil), due to its spiky cost profile and ugly outside storage. I also hoped to see a reduction in electric usage, and wanted to use underfloor heating and avoid the use of radiators within the property to free up wall space and improve the aesthetics of the interior.

It was sustainable and sensible to use local resources, hence my decision to use local Cornish GSHP manufacturer, Kensa Heat Pumps. Also, in doing research on various other manufacturers’ heat pumps I found some had immersion heaters in them which I considered a weakness; Kensa’s units are sized to meet 100% of peak heat demand. Also Kensa were realistic and honest in their sales pitch and supporting documentation. Numerous sales persons I met from other companies were clearly not as well informed!

The use of immersion heaters are not permitted by MCS if the heat pump does not provide 100% of the space heating load without the immersion heater; a key consideration if Stephen was to apply for the anticipated RHI phase 2. How much did the appeal of the RHI and RHPP affect Stephen’s specification of a GSHP?

I would still have gone ahead anyway in view of the fact that the barn was in need of a serious amount of renovation. Oil prices have and will continue to rise and be volatile, so much work had to be done. I spent a long time planning and costing the refurb to be eco, green and sustainable. During my research I discovered the RHPP grant. When the installation was completed and commissioned by Kensa, I made the application with the requested documentation and date. I am not MCS accredited, but I wanted to do the renovation myself. Kensa offered a unique option whereby they support and commission the system using their MCS installer accreditation, this turned out to be very affordable for me and permitted me to get the RHPP grant, and hopefully the RHI phase 2 payments. The Kensa accreditation and support worked well for me and would for any self build projects in my opinion. It was all straightforward really.”

Stephen summarises his experience: “No oil anymore, no oil tank, no boiler room; the next plan is hopefully a small wind turbine which will render me almost totally self-sufficient. I have since recommended Kensa ground source heat pumps to a friend who was considering putting in a new gas (propane bottled) combi-boiler.

Key Facts

  • Barn conversion
  • 8kW ground source heat pump
  • Slinky ground arrays
  • Displacing oil
  • Earn £12,700 over 7 years through the Domestic RHI and fuel savings
  • Save £520 in energy costs every year
  • Generate £1,300 through the RHI every year for 7 years
  • Payback in just 6 years