Holiday cottage heating
A conversation with our Visit Scotland Quality Advisor led us to install a revolutionary type of heating at Craigwell Cottage in Edinburgh: Far Infrared. Back in July 2016 we had our regular grading visit – a meeting with our Quality and Tourism Advisor, Angie. We’ve been members of the Visit Scotland Grading Scheme since 1995 when we joined for Sandcastle Cottage in Crail. When we bought Craigwell Cottage in early 2007, we aimed to achieve 4-star grading which we have held ever since. This assures our visitors that we have attained Visit Scotland’s standards, and regular inspections ensure that the standards are being maintained.
The grading visit is an opportunity to find out from our Advisor what is happening and what developments are being made with Scotland’s tourism plans.
When we met in July 2016, the conversation turned to a review of our Green Energy Policies, and we mentioned that we were considering replacing the night-storage heating which was in the property when we bought it. Our thought at this point was to replace ‘like with like’ and update the heating with a new form of night-storage heating. Angie promised to forward information about the Green Tourism Scheme and to put us in touch with Resource Efficient Scotland.
Energy Assessment with Resource Efficient Scotland
After a busy summer welcoming guests to enjoy Edinburgh’s Festivals, we started our planning for the replacement of our heating system in late September 2016. An initial contact with Resource Efficient Scotland led to an appointment in late October to have a telephone audit carried out, before which we needed to provide details of the dimensions of our rooms within the cottage, and a description of the existing heating system. This was helped by our having a floor plan of Craigwell Cottage with approximate dimensions, although we did have to estimate heights (which we later checked). In the cottage at the time we had a mixture of night storage heaters along with some convector heaters and other combined convector/night storage.
During the discussion with the Resource Efficient Scotland Consultant, she mentioned that she had installed a new type of heating in some rental properties which she owned and she had been very pleased with it. This was the very first time we’d heard of Far Infrared heating, and it sent us off to do some research. We read the information on the Herschel Infrared site, and watched videos about installation of the heating panels.
Within a couple of weeks we had received our free report from the Energy Consultant. In this we received details of the recommendations of size and number of Far Infrared panels we would require, along with an indication of the pay-back period of the investment, and the annual energy savings. We had estimated that the existing heating and lighting bills amounted to around £1,300 per annum, split at around £1,100 for heating and around £200 for lighting and cooking. The report suggested 4 recommendations of ways we could become more energy efficient:
- Install infrared heating panels throughout the property
- Install LED lighting throughout the property
- Insulate the property to the minimum recommended guideline of 270mm
- Install double glazed windows / doors or secondary glazing
The report gave a broad indication of the likely cost of the equipment required to replace our heating, but this was purely an estimate of the cost of the panels. What was not estimated was the cost of the labour to install the system, remove the old system, nor any indication of the cost of controlling the system. However, we had a starting point to get estimates from tradesmen for the work required.
With a base level report, we decided to start contacting electrical installers to get estimates for the work involved. The Herschel website had 4 recommended installers within the Edinburgh area, and we contacted two of them, along with another electrician we had worked with recently. We opted to work with Allan Scott of Scott Electrical (1 Prospect Bank Grove, Edinburgh EH6 7NR – Tel: 0131 555 5258). Allan was listed as one of the contractors on the Herschel website, and we had around 3 meetings with him on-site to discuss the job and specify the exact requirements for the heating panels. He took care to understand what we required, made suggestions on what needed to be changed, and brought a panel for us to see and try in the property before we finalised the decisions. He also invited a representative from Herschel and a representative from Ross Electrical to meet on site as part of the preparation.
He had also suggested submitting the information about room sizes and dimensions to Herschel for their staff to carry out an estimate of the type and number of panels required.
As part of our research, we had gone to Scott Coppola, Electrical Distributors, in Leith to see the panels ‘in action’. We were surprised to find that they had one panel installed as part of the ceiling of their premises, as they come in the same shape and size as factory unit suspended ceiling panels, and another panel was at the rear of the service counter with a Herschel advert on it, looking just like an advert board. The panels are certainly slimline, and lightweight.
When Allan brought a sample panel for us to try in Craigwell Cottage, it really helped us to understand what the Far Infrared heating system felt like – it was like being gently warmed by the sun, and felt very comfortable when we were sitting in our living area opposite the panel. One thing we also learned as part of our research was that the panels need to be installed at around chest height rather than at floor level. This took a little getting used to: we had to plan where on the walls the panels were to go. Because we have a holiday cottage, and several of the walls in our upper level living/dining room have a coombed slope, we had to work out which sites would be best and indeed which of the pictures on the walls we would replace. In the bedrooms, it was ideal as situating the panels at chest height meant we would free up some valuable circulation space around the beds as the old storage heaters took up much more room.
Between the two specifications we’d had: one from Resource Efficient Scotland and the other from Herschel, we were able to make a judgement on the number of panels required. Allan’s expertise meant that we chose a ‘middle ground’ between the two. One had suggested that we needed 5 panels, the other that we needed 9, and in the end we opted for 7 panels, choosing to install a mirrored one in the bathroom to supplement the existing heating from a heated towel rail which never quite managed to heat the room enough in our experience.
Due to the age and construction of our property, the calculation we required to work out the wattage of heaters in each room was length x width x height (all in metres) x 35 watts/cubic metre.
In addition we needed thermostats and receivers for each ‘zone’ which we required to heat. As our upper floor is an open plan living/dining/kitchen, this was one zone, which required one thermostat and two receivers. The hallway was a second zone, again with one thermostat and two receivers. Each of the 2 bedrooms and bathroom required one thermostat and receiver each. The Herschel IQ wireless thermostats and receivers were fitted. We opted not to have them linked and remotely controlled via an App, as we are usually on site to welcome guests and wanted them to have the ability to change temperatures if need be.
With regard to cost, the 7 panels we chose were:
Herschel Select XL – 2 x 1000W panels – dimensions 85 cm x 120 cm
Herschel Select XL – 2 x 600W panels – dimensions 65 cm x 100 cm
Herschel Select XL – 2 x 300W panels – dimensions 60 cm x 60 cm
Herschel Inspire Mirror – 1 x 420W panel – dimensions 69 cm x 60 cm
We needed 5 thermostats and 7 receivers
In total the cost for all of this was £2,933.80 including VAT at 20%. Labour cost for the installation was £1,680 including VAT. This included stripping out and disposing of the old system.
Installation timings and redecoration required
Once our decisions had been made, we opted to have the work done in Craigwell Cottage in mid-January 2017 as it’s often a quiet time for our business and we were able to block out time for the work to be done. The electrical work was completed over 3 days. The first day was stripping out of the old system. Then re-wiring and fitting of the new panels. These are simply fixed to the wall using the supplied mounting bracket, 4 screws and 4 rawl plugs.
Removal of the old night storage heaters meant that we had some surface damage to walls which required to be re-painted. We had some areas where the floor covering had been cut rather than fitted under the panels, which meant we had to repair patches in laminate flooring. We also found that there were some places where the carpet had been cut to accommodate brackets for the old panels, so we will have to plan to replace carpets in due course, but it’s not something which required done immediately. It’s just something which you should be aware of if you are considering this type of replacement.
The only slight down-side for us was in one area where we had a picture hung which we had to replace with a panel heater. This has meant that the ‘balance’ of the decor of the room doesn’t look quite right yet, so we’re going to be buying some new pictures. It should be mentioned that it is possible to commission bespoke panels with your own artwork printed on them, but we opted not to do this first time round as we wanted the work to be completed in a tight time frame, and did not want to go to the expense of commissioning bespoke panels before we knew how the heating would perform.
Our experience with Far Infrared Electric Heating
We will update this post when we have further experience of how the new heating is performing, and indeed when we start to see our heating bills decrease. The rough estimate was that we would save around £900 per annum by using Far Infrared panels instead of night storage heating, which would indeed be a substantial benefit. It would mean a payback period of just over 5 years for all costs of parts and labour incurred.
We found that we needed more Far Infrared panels (7 rather than 5 initially suggested) as we opted to have two in the hallway to heat the upper and lower halls separately, and we opted for one in the bathroom which was not specified by Resource Efficient Scotland. The Herschel suggestion was for 9 Far-Infrared panels, which we reduced to 7. This was partly due to a probable misunderstanding of the layout of our open plan living/dining/kitchen. Herschel had suggested 4 panels in this area, and we opted for two only, although if we find that the kitchen area is not warm enough we can always opt to add another panel here fairly easily. We had considered ceiling mounting panels in the upstairs room, but the height of the room made us change our minds about that as the ceilings are quite high at around 3 m.
We hope that you will find this write-up of our experience useful. Should you wish to find out more about FAR Infrared heating, please feel free to contact us to ask. We also hope that if you’re considering holiday accommodation in Edinburgh during the winter months, you’ll find our cottage a cosy and convenient place to stay. You might even find us embracing the Danish art of hygge!
We’d be very happy to welcome you to Craigwell Cottage. For full details of the review, plus images, please click here.
Reproduced with kind permission Susan McNaughton.