For A-Grade heating, do your homework now


With Spring being a matter of weeks away, you would forgive school estate managers for thinking it was safe to forget about the heating for another year. Neville Small, Sales Director of Potterton Commercial, says this is not the case.

"With another winter out of the way and the need to get on with the job schedule for the spring term, it can be tempting to put the performance of the school's heating system to one side until the colder months come back around. However, the spring can actually be a really valuable time to reassess the needs of the school and plan for the future.

"December's Spending Review saw the government announce that 23billion will be invested in the school estate, offering a fantastic opportunity to make energy efficient improvements - particularly when it comes to the heating system.

"As well as keeping pupils and teachers at a comfortable temperature so that young minds can be fully immersed in the learning experience, schools that upgrade their heating system can expect to reap the rewards of improved energy efficiency, especially when replacing old inefficient non-condensing boilers with efficient condensing boilers. That means reduced carbon emissions and energy bills - with the money saved being put towards other valuable resources.

"A boiler that's on its last legs may have coped with demand this year, but it's worth bearing in mind that is has been a particularly mild winter - one of the warmed on record. With that in mind, it's more than likely that it won't have been tested to the usual degree, so be careful not to use the experience to justify putting off a replacement.

"New ErP legislation means that it is increasingly difficult to replace a non-condensing boiler like-for-like. The alternative - a condensing boiler - will be much more efficient, but will require a new flue and condense drain, so installing a new boiler may not be as simple as first thought. Practically speaking, that means it's all the more important to explore the options in advance, rather than be on the back foot if the system fails without a plan in place.

"At the same time, a major advantage of planning for any changes now is the choices that it will afford, both in terms of the extra time you'll have to consider various quotes, and the flexibility of having the work done at a time that suits the school.

"We work with lots of schools and often recommend that any upgrades are carried out during the summer shutdown to keep disruption to a minimum. As always though, the best time for this kind of work is also the most popular - so booking in with a contractor earlier rather than later can be a wise move."

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