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Published: 21/07/2015

Renewable heating systems for community buildings

Community buildings, such as scout huts and church halls, are highly valued by the local areas that they serve. They are used for social, recreational and educational activities, for example: slimming clubs, play schools, and youth organisations like Scouts and Guides.

The difficulty with such community buildings is that they are often run by volunteers with little funds. These people give up their own time and find themselves having to juggle all that’s necessary to keep these buildings running effectively and economically viable. Older community buildings often lack insulation and are not very efficient to heat. This means that energy bills can skyrocket, adding to the difficulty.

Space heating can account for as much as 70% of energy use in a community building. If you’re able to make the heating as efficient as possible, you could save money on bills and utilise that money in another way. In general, mains gas is the cheapest method of space heating. However many community buildings, especially those in rural areas that tend to be off the main grid, use electric heating or other combustible fuels like oil or LPG, which is more expensive. Electric heating tends to be a popular option in community buildings because of its ease of installation, however, electricity generation produces high levels of carbon dioxide and can be an expensive option. A viable alternative may be a form of renewable heating, such as a heat pump.

Delta-ee Get paid for installing renewable heating systems

Both ground source and air source heat pumps are eligible for the renewable heat incentive (RHI). In a community building, this would be the non-domestic RHI, which would mean receiving a quarterly payment from the Government over 20 years. The tariff received will depend on energy usage.

All heat pump installations on the non-domestic tariff are required to have a heat meter installed that will monitor the actual heat energy produced by the heat pump, and a Watt meter to monitor electrical energy usage by the heat pump. These meters make it possible to calculate the free energy produced by your heating system. You will receive payments on the total energy produced by the heat pump which will be paid quarterly, according to actual up-to-date meter readings.

Non-Domestic RHI tariff

Ground source heat pumpTier 1 (up to 1314 hrs)8.84p/kWh
Tier 2 (thereafter)2.64p/kWh
Air source heat pumpAll2.54p/kWh

A tariff level will be assigned to you on accreditation, based on your installation.

Heat pump plans for London scout hut

A new scout hut is being built in London. The building plot will have no mains gas so the contractors have decided to heat the space with an air source heat pump and underfloor heating.

The Reina Group provided a quotation for the supply and installation of a Daikin air source heat pump and associated equipment that would qualify for the non-domestic renewable heat incentive, and result in a return over the next 20 years, depending on usage, of circa £15,000.

Having a heat pump will also result in lower energy bills. This table shows how the cost of fuel using a heat pump compares to the cost of other methods.

The above table shows, the heat pump is the cheapest option in terms of energy costs. The estimated RHI pay out more than covers the estimated fuel costs, so once the cost of installation has been covered, the RHI tariff can be used to pay for the heating, resulting in a huge decrease in overheads. There may even be money left over from the RHI that can be used towards building maintenance, equipment purchases, or whatever you want. It’s one less thing for you to worry about.

Retrofit or new build

The example above is for a new build scout hut but heat pumps are also suitable for retrofit, and can be installed at the same time as other renovations are taking place to minimise disruption. Or, the installation could be a project on its own. If you manage a scout hut or other community building and worry about ever increasing energy costs, why not consider a heat pump? Click here for more information on heat pump systems.