Earth shrinks bill

Kevin Snow19th March 2008

Democratic debate in Three Rivers may be soon hotting up as the District Council installs this week a ground source heat pump.

Buried beneath the gardens opposite Three Rivers House in Rickmansworth, the system will provide heating in winter and cooling in summer for the main Penn Chamber.

Three Rivers' Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Martin Trevett, said:

"Ground source heat pumps are a simple and practical idea. We may laugh about politicians making their own hot air but actually these systems can make a practical long term difference in reducing C02 emissions, heating costs and ultimately, Council Tax bills.

"This system costs about the same amount as a conventional replacement, which was needed anyway.  The system will pay for itself in six years and reduce carbon emissions from day one."

Councillor Shaw starts digging in the Rose GardensWater pipes are being buried three metres below ground where there is a heat level of 11 - 12 degrees Celsius.  At this depth, the soil stays at a relatively constant temperature, compared to the much wider variations in the air of between minus 10 and plus 40 degrees C depending on the season.  Because the ground is warmer than the air in winter and cooler than the air in summer, the single pumping system can help provide both heating and cooling at different times of the year.

Watford Friends of the Earth's John Collier said:

"We welcome this initiative by the Council which demonstrates the effectiveness of larger schemes.  These systems will become even more green when our national power is provided mostly through renewable sources.

"Ground source heat pumps are not always efficient for private homes so do get expert advice before making a decision about your property - for the average house the best thing to do is improve your insulation, use energy efficiency appliances and try to reduce usage."

The Council will also be installing solar panels to help heat water at William Penn Leisure Centre as part of the venue's refurbishment.

Residents who would like more information about energy sources and energy reduction can ring Beds and Herts Energy Efficiency Advice Centre on freephone 0800 512 012.  An energy saving booklet is available from the Council on 01923 776611 or