Author: Dakota Lavento Images: Nascotec and Harri Kivelä Translation: Mikael Jenu

Repurposed dairy made the switch to ground source heating

In 1927, Osuuskunta Tuottajain Maito established a small dairy in Kausala, a village in Southern Finland. In the early 1950s, the dairy co-operative expanded the building with a new wing with living space for workers. When the dairy closed doors in the 1980s, the co-operative repurposed the property, and it is now managed through housing company Kausalan Maitola. The property is still owned by the co-operative, who rent out the old dairy to small businesses.

Today, the building has 12 apartments. “In the old section, we have two large apartments and one small and, in the wing from the 50s, we have smallish studios and 1-bedroom apartments, says Harri Kivelä, the housing company’s Chairman of the Board.

The building’s total heated floorspace is approximately 1,419 m2. In the last few years, the building’s heating system consumed approximately 20,000–30,000 liters of light fuel oil per year. “Of our annual expenses, the cost of heating energy has been near or at the top of the list. For a small housing company that’s a lot of money,” Kivelä says.

Considering an energy renovation

– biggest savings from ground source heating

The housing company’s board of directors started considering the alternatives to oil heating already five years ago. The company requested quotations for ground source systems, but the total cost was too great to swallow at the time. “We even had some talks with the local district heating company, but from their standpoint, we were on the wrong side of the railroad tracks,” Kivelä says.

The second time the energy renovation was brought to the table, the company board almost decided on an air-to-water heat pump. But after a timeout and a new round of analyses, they decided to make the leap and invest in ground source heating.

“The long-term savings from ground source heating finally tipped the balance in favor of this solution, even if this meant that the company had to take out a loan.”

Quick and easy implementation with a fully operational system in just a few days

Renovation projects at historical sites can be difficult and time-consuming. This time, everything went quickly and smoothly. The energy system upgrade was completed by Nascotec Oy, a local full-service HVAC company with another successful upgrade project for an old dairy among their references.

Within one week in July, six 300-meter boreholes were bored on the site. The bedrock was reached at 3–15 meters.

The boreholes were bored by Rototec. The building’s outdoor areas had to be dug up for laying the necessary pipes. Images: Harri Kivelä.

Nascotec could start installing the heat pump and new storage tanks already on July 26, 2021. The heat pump selected for the site was a 96-kilowatt Oilon and Lämpöässä RE heat pump specifically designed for medium-sized and large buildings.

“The building’s existing storage tank had already been demolished. We brought with us three 1,000-liter storage tanks. Two of the tanks will serve the heating system and one is reserved for domestic hot water, says HVAC technician Jani Naukkarinen.

Installing a heat pump in an old building usually has its challenges. With its cramped boiler room, the old dairy was no exception. “We brought the heat pump in with a pallet jack and removed the room’s fire door,” Naukkarinen says. “The storage tanks were eased in through a window and slid onto the floor on a slide made from planks.” A local engineer helped with lifting and hauling.

The original oil-fired boiler was left in place for backup heating. The boiler’s old, large oil tank will be dismantled and replaced with two smaller tanks, which will sit closer to the boiler.

Installation was completed on July 30, only four days after the start.

The building’s existing radiator system was left untouched. The old and beautiful cast iron radiators are in good working order and pieces of art at their own right. Balancing out the system was left to the fall season when the weather is colder. The system’s thermostats and valves will be replaced next spring, after the heating season.

A smoothly operating system generates savings at an even pacetoimii

There were some cool days at the end of the summer, and the autumn has been brisk, which means that the system has already seen some use. Everything has been running smoothly. “As soon as we get the outdoor areas cleaned up and the asphalt in place, the project will be finished for now,” Kivelä says, smiling.

The final bill for the project came out to 140,000 euros. The housing company stands to receive a EUR 24,000 subsidy for the project from The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland.

The system provides a steady stream of savings from heating costs.

The Kausalan Maitola energy upgrade in a nutshell:

Kausalan Maitola’s heating system upgrade

  • Completed in July 2021
  • Building constructed at two stages, in 1929 and 1950
  • 12 apartments as well as storage spaces and facilities for small businesses
  • Heated floor area approx. 1,400 m2
  • Volume approx. 9500 m3
  • Heating oil consumption before the upgrade approx. 30,000 liters per year

Ground source heating system

Oilon Lämpöässä
  • Oilon RE96 -kiinteistölämpöpumppu
  • Three 1,000-liter storage tanks
  • Six 300-meter boreholes
  • Existing oil boiler left as a backup heater; original oil tank to be replaced with two smaller tanks

Main contractor: Nascotec Oy

Subsidies for energy system renovation

In 2020–2022, The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA) will provide subsidies for residential renovation projects that improve energy efficiency. These subsidies are available to private persons who own residential buildings, housing companies, and ARA-approved non-profit corporations. The maximum amount of subsidy is 50 per cent of eligible building-specific expenses that improve energy efficiency, but no more than EUR 4,000 or 6,000 per unit.

Read more about state subsidies:

Our local representatives offer Oilon and Lämpöässä ground source heat pumps with expertise. In most cases, the solution can be delivered on a turnkey basis.