Helping schools get the most out of heat pumps

Many schools are switching from old, fossil fuelled heating to energy efficient, environmentally friendly heat pumps to beat rising energy bills and do their bit for carbon reduction. What’s key to getting the most out of a heat pump system, however, is accurate installation followed by a planned and preventative maintenance programme. Franco Cafano from LH-plc explains:

A study called ‘The School Decarbonisation Challenge’ was conducted in 2021 by the Energy Systems Catapult on behalf of the Department for Education. It concluded: “The decarbonisation of gas fuelled space heating is the biggest challenge faced by the school estate. In practical terms this means a two-phase approach of firstly reducing energy needs (by improving building energy efficiency) followed by a transition to a low carbon heating solution.” Heat pumps are listed in the study as one of the key recommended alternatives to fossil fuels.

According to the Carbon Trust, by adopting energy efficiency measures schools have the potential to prevent 625,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere and reduce energy costs by around 20%. With the average primary school in the UK spending £31,000 each year on energy bills, a figure that increases to £90,000 for secondary schools, the savings are potentially significant*.

To help school make this transition towards low carbon energy efficiency they need the support of trusted and experienced external suppliers. Even the best technology is ineffective if it fails to operate properly and that is why correct installation and ongoing servicing is critical.

Plan, prevent and save

Once a heat pump system has been properly installed (our sister company, Klima-Therm, can help with that), LH advocates a preventive maintenance contract which focuses on keeping equipment running as it should and therefore less likely to need costly repairs.

Beware of ‘repair contracts’ where maintenance providers offer what seems like a good deal, fixing issues under a certain value (say £1,000) within the monthly retainer. The reality is that small jobs tend not to get done, or their cost is over-inflated and the client ends up paying.

When looking for a maintenance partner, there are several important features that schools should consider:

  • Quality and reliability – An ability to respond quickly to changing customer demands and unexpected crises.
  • Flexibility – The capacity of the supplier to respond to the changing demands of the buyer so it is important that suppliers do not prioritise their larger customers at the expense of the smaller.
  • Value for money – Cheapest does not always correlate with the best value for money. Customers must decide the balance they want to strike between cost, reliability, quality, and service.
  • Strong service and clear communication – The aptitude of the supplier to deliver on time, or to be honest and give plenty of warning if they are unable to. The best suppliers encourage regular contact with their customers to discover their needs and how they can best be served.

LH provides specialist heat pump servicing and maintenance services to schools – among other commercial enterprises – throughout the UK. We also deliver a comprehensive range of services that support maintenance, including fault finding, commissioning & decommissioning.

Going green’ is an investment worth making, but only with a long-term view. The best savings in carbon and cost will only be made if heat pumps are kept in good order, within buildings that have taken a wholistic approach to energy efficiency.

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