Tackling fuel poverty

– 1 min read

Older people living in retirement housing in Midlothian are soon to benefit from reduced fuel bills thanks to a new smart mini district heating network providing low carbon warmth in their homes. The grant-funded Heatshare project, the first of its kind in the UK, is a partnership with Scottish thermal storage specialists Sunamp, and the Green Economy Fund. The hybrid system installed at St Anne’s older person’s development in Newtongrange involves a combination of a communal gas boiler, communal air source heat pumps and modern-day thermal storage.

The system is dynamically managed by a smart control from PassivSystems, now part of BUUK Infrastructure, which continually scans for the cheapest fuel tariffs and automatically switches between the gas and electric supply to match each resident’s demand for heat. It means cheap electricity can be used overnight for the heat pump to warm homes ready for the morning. The gas boiler, and heat stored in the Sunamp heat battery which has been charged using the cheapest available fuel, can be called on to boost warmth most cost effectively when required. St Anne’s is already fitted with solar PV which is providing power to the air source heat pumps, further reducing costs to customers.

The smart control makes it possible for the whole system to be monitored remotely as it gathers data, picking up any issues and contacting the maintenance team in advance of faults occurring. Using space-saving heat batteries, which are up to four times smaller than traditional hot water cylinders and require no regulatory annual maintenance, has greatly simplified installation and maximises efficiencies from the air source heat pump providing renewable energy.

Places for People Scotland Trade Supervisor Mark Coyle said: “This project has allowed us to introduce new skills to our team that will benefit their careers, and our abilities as an organisation to deliver future low carbon projects in homes. Once the hybrid system is installed, everything happens automatically, making it easy for customers to remain warm and comfortable at a lower cost. Data gathered from the project will inform our future sustainability decisions and will hopefully open doors to future collaborations in the sector.”

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