When Bruno Prior was looking at heating systems to make his modern barn conversion in Berkshire complete, he wanted something that would provide advanced comfort levels but which would not make a disproportionate use of the planet's energy resources.
Unico System International identified a configuration featuring a heat-pump arrangement that uses a geothermal heat source and heat sink in the ground below the property. This system uses a fraction of the electrical energy of traditional systems, taking existing heat energy below ground when heating or from the house itself when cooling, "dumping" the heat on the other side of the circuit at a higher temperature using refrigeration as the carrier. Compared with the amount of heating or cooling energy produced, the system uses less than one half in input energy so the system pays for itself over its lifetime. Underfloor heating has also been installed for additional comfort, so the Unico System is used predominantly for its cooling capability. However, ondemand warm air makes the arrangement even more flexible and any temperature changes, particularly in Spring or Autumn, can be instantly remedied.
Because the Unico system uses high-velocity air ducts, heating or cooling is delivered accurately, evenly and quickly to the desired areas of the house, producing an extremely comfortable and virtually noise-free environment. An additional benefit was that the design was not hindered by the need to accommodate radiators or ducting channels. The Unico System is hidden in existing walls and floor channels, so the interior design is exactly to the owner's specification. Duct openings are unobtrusively accommodated in ceiling and floor features.