Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in edtech

Thinking long term for school efficiencies

Use a whole-life costing model to select commercial boilers for new schools, says Neville Small

Posted by Stephanie Broad | June 07, 2016 | HVAC & lighting

England's Department for Education says it will invest £23bn in school buildings over the next five years. And, as new schools are built, the installation of energy efficient, cost-effective products must be a top priority – especially in light of a study that found many new buildings were over-engineered and were on course to cost the taxpayer £450m more than they should in heating, cooling and lighting between 2015 and 2018.

The concept of whole life costing has a huge role to play. While it can be easy to focus on the initial capital cost of equipment, especially if budgets are tight, operational costs need to be taken into account too. 

Where commercial boilers are concerned, whole life costing should include a review of anticipated energy, installation, maintenance and servicing costs, alongside the initial cost of the product. 

Whole life costing models can predict how much energy a boiler will use, and assumptions can therefore be made about how much it will cost to run (depending on fuel prices), and how much carbon it will emit. Although some energy efficient equipment will have a slightly higher capital cost, this can often be recouped very quickly as a result of lower energy use (and hence lower energy bills). 

Sirius by Potterton Commercial


Fortunately, it is now easier to select the most energy efficient products, with space heaters and combi space heaters of up to 70kW having an energy label (ranging from A++ to G) as a result of the Energy Labelling Directive (widely referred to as ErP), introduced in September 2015. Additional performance and efficiency parameters can be found in a ‘technical fiche’ and within product data/technical parameter sheets, which should be available on manufacturers’ websites and in installation instructions included with products.

A more in-depth analysis of whole life costs would also include the anticipated expenses associated with installation, maintenance, repair and servicing. 

The work involved in installing commercial boilers can vary – so it’s an area that’s definitely worth investigating. Some manufacturers have invested in making their boilers quick and easy to fit, and some offer cascade boiler frames or prefabricated solutions to simplify the installation process further. 

Within a whole life cost model, the costs for regular maintenance and servicing (which are essential for safety and reliability, and will also increase boiler life) should always be included. We would also add a cost for water treatment, as heating systems will perform better, more efficiently and more reliably with good-quality water circulating in them. 

Alongside this essential maintenance, unplanned, unexpected repairs must also be considered. In fact, there is a growing awareness that maintenance and refurbishment costs may amount to half of all money spent on existing buildingsReviewing the reliability of a boiler’s individual components and the work required (e.g. which parts will need replacing and how often) can help to ensure there aren’t any surprise costs or disruption – although having a contingency budget is always advisable. 

A boiler manufactured from high-quality components and materials may initially cost more to purchase, but it will require fewer spare parts and repairs, contributing to a shorter payback period with less disruption and downtime. 

This might seem a lot to consider, but boiler manufacturers should be able to assist by providing an analysis of all the costs and revenues associated with a specific product, so that accurate, realistic budgets for its purchase, installation, operation, maintenance and repair can be set. 

Procurement decisions based purely on purchase price may prove to be false economy, costing more in the long run as a result of increased fuel bills or because products will need to be repaired or replaced sooner. Thinking about the long term is much more likely to deliver efficiency, cost-effectiveness and value-for-money. 

Neville Small is sales director at Potterton Commercial.    

Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in edtech

Related stories

An educated approach to ventilation

Why air conditioning makes the best heating

5 ways to embrace school design sustainability in 2018

Market place - view all

Leafield Environmental

A specialist range of recycling bins and litter bins for external a...


Nova Sport are a leading safety surfacing supplier in the UK. We of...

Portable Facilities

Helping you provide outstanding learning environments by upgrading ...