Off the beaten track

Off into the Wilder West of County Clare today looking at houses. Successfully finding a place to buy with all the things you need is a protracted process and needs a lot of serendipity. Failing that, a great deal of persistence and sheer bloody mindedness. Relying on sites like and only gives you a part of the story.

Fortunately I have a great deal of bloody minded persistence in my DNA. So the hunt will continue, down leafy Irish lanes, dodging the tractors along tiny boreens and up farm tracks, thankful for decent SUV suspension. Might even book an outdoor table for lunch in Localtown tomorrow. We have errands there, so why not?

Work is slack at the moment, so this means both Mrs S and I have plenty of spare time for reading and research. And I was considering investing in a ground source heat pump, when of course we do find our new building project. However, some fairly reputable sources are making me question this aspiration.

Yes, I know he’s (only) a tradesman and not some highly qualified academic who publishes highbrow papers, but when push comes to shove, he’s got nothing to gain, loads (Over ten years) of hands on experience, and as he states in his video, particularly with regard to Air Heat pumps, there’s a burgeoning legal mis-selling culture. Don’t know about ground source. But I do know that Air Heat pumps do surge at startup, which may mean that any ‘savings’ aren’t worth the candle. I’ll do the sums and see if it has a significant payback between 3-5 years. If not then I think my interest might exhibit significant wane-fall. However, we live and learn.

Certainly I’ve lived in a house with an air heat pump in Canada and wasn’t too happy at being awoken in the middle of the night by the noisy monster. New ones may be quieter, but after four or five years? Experience tells me there’s potentially a big downside.

Maybe if we end up out in the sticks as seems likely, we should invest in a methane digester as backup to a more traditional hot water / heating gas boiler setup. Spend our money on top notch insulation instead. Go for the passive solar option. Keep the heating bills down that way.

5 thoughts on “Off the beaten track”

  1. Hi Mr Sticker,

    Heat pumps become less efficient as the difference in temperature between the heat source and heat sink increases. So air source heat pumps are less efficient when it’s cold outside; not something you want. And it follows that they work best with underfloor heating where the floor temperature is just a little above the ambient, not the 60+ degrees you need in a radiator.

    Ground source heat pumps are best, since the ground temperature is relatively stable, and the veritcal ones are best of all, though more expensive.

    They work like a fridge in reverse, and fridge technology has been around for a long time; there’s nothing especially complicated. The least reliable component being the electric motor that powers the pump.

    I have seen energy efficiency figures quoted as high as 600%; your mileage may vary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, a vertical well is the least ground hungry version, but an Air heat pump just dropped off my list of options. I keep hearing tales about them ceasing to function properly around 30 Fahrenheit.

      Since there’s the possibility we may have to get a well drilled anyway, it would make economic sense to get both done at the same time. A closed loop system for the heat, as open loop systems are know to have problems with filter clogging.

      Underfloor heating on the other hand, is a definite yes. Better than radiators.


  2. Unfortunately or not I don’t understand what you are talking about.

    I’ve got a very good second hand wood burner so my old stone built house stays warm in winter and cool in summer.

    Sorry, probably not a lot of help.


    1. Wood burners are popular, but we’re living with two at present, and would like something we can control a little better.

      Wood burning stoves are great in cool climates, but I’d have to teach Mrs S how to handle one properly, but she’s not terribly interested.


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