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Maximise energy savings in schools via two heating solutions

Steven Evans, National Sales Manager at Potterton Commercial, discusses heating solutions

Posted by Lucinda Reid | February 02, 2017 | Sustainability

Energy efficiency continues to be a major consideration for any organisation, with growing pressure to reduce carbon emissions and save energy costs. This is particularly relevant for the education sector, as many institutions are housed in older, less energy-efficient buildings with outdated plant. With a large proportion of energy consumption resulting from heating, a new and more energy efficient system could go a long way towards reducing a school’s energy bills as well as improving its green credentials.

Institutions that replace old inefficient non-condensing boilers with efficient condensing boilers can expect to reap the rewards of improved energy efficiency. However, before deciding on which system to commission, management needs to consider how their establishment’s hot water and heating demands may differ, and how this can be addressed.

To get the most out of a heating system’s performance capabilities, it is important to know the patterns of heating and hot water usage, not just during the daytime but also outside of teaching hours, so that the system specified can meet predicted demand.

For example, in secondary schools where sports and shower facilities are available, these may be hired and used by external parties in the evenings. In the school canteen, whilst heating may not be needed throughout the day, hot water consumption is likely to be high before and after lunch during food preparation and clean up.  

Traditionally, a boiler would be used to not only supply space heating, but also to heat a calorifier to produce hot water. However, these systems can waste energy and money when demand for hot water is low. Even when using a modern condensing boiler linked to a secondary hot water calorifier, the overall efficiency will be limited. A much more efficient approach is to install individual heaters where hot water is needed in the showers and kitchen, with separate boiler plant solely for space heating. In fact, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) compliance guide offers heat efficiency credits for decentralisation of heating and hot water services.

By separating heaters for hot water supply from boilers used for space heating, not only can hot water energy load be more appropriately matched to the water heater output, but enable heating system boilers to be turned off in warmer summer months. In addition, water heaters can be installed close to the point of use. This is particularly useful when, for example, facilities requiring hot water supply needs to move further away from an existing plant room.  By having a hot water system that is separate from the boiler and closer to the point of use, the amount of energy required to pump hot water around the system, and heat losses from the distribution pipework is reduced, further helping to lower running costs and carbon emissions.

To ensure that the separate systems continue to perform to the levels of efficiency they were originally designed for after installation, managers need to put in place a water treatment programme for both the boiler system and hot water heaters. Early maintenance is key to preventing corrosion and the build-up of lime scale, and minimising the cost of repairs due to breakdown.

An upgrade will inevitably result in a reduction in energy costs. By thinking carefully about how, where and when hot water and heating is used, and commissioning separate systems for them, further savings can be made -savings that can then be used for valuable resources such as extracurricular activities and learning equipment.

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