Heating a 16th century listed building in Somerset is one of the latest projects for innovative heating company Süka.
The building, used by the Quakers, was previously heated by two 10.5 kw gas-powered heaters and much of this heat was lost through the roof space where there was no insulation.
“The heaters had reached the end of their useful lives and needed to be replaced,” said the Quaker Friends*. “We knew that it would be a big job to do but also knew investing in this would give the building a new lease of life.”
The Friends set about making investigations and spoke to a student writing a dissertation about alternative technology, who suggested ways and means of reducing the carbon footprint of the building.
“Environmental issues weren’t so high on the agenda when the previous units were installed – now that we’re replacing them it’s our duty to consider the impact our decision has on the world around us,” said the Friends.
Süka offered the perfect solution – effective heating which is environmentally friendly.
“We were really pleased with our first experience with Süka,” they explained.
“We discussed the sizes of the rooms and how much heat we would need throughout the week, and we came up with a solution that was just right – we weren’t pushed into buying something we didn’t need.”
After meeting with Süka’s Abdul Raaj, the Quaker Friends were even more at ease.
“Abdul showed us information about a similar sized project so we could compare and he also brought a demonstration model so that we could see for ourselves the way it works.”
“The traditional ‘radiator’ does not, in fact, radiate – it convects heat, so the air is warmed and circulated in the room to reach the required temperature,” explained Abdul.
“But such systems cause the hot air to rise quickly so the ceilings are warm and the floors are cold. The result is warm heads and cold feet.
“The most remarkable thing about the traditional radiator is that the valves fitted on them measure only the temperature of the hot water flowing into the radiator, not the temperature of the room. So, if one room needs more warmth than another, or vice versa, the boiler does not, and cannot adjust to that specific need and reduce consumption of fuel.”
Süka heating systems use electricity to power the units and plug straight into the wall. They use true radiation to heat a room which is more effective – none of the energy is lost in the heating process. The control process measures the room temperature to determine how much power is needed.
Radiant heat warms up the walls and furniture of a room and these too store the heat and radiate it out. The building shell and its contents are used as thermal mass and are then a store of heat. This means only top-up heat is required, and clearly less money spent. Studies have shown that 15 minutes of electricity will give 60 minutes of warmth.
“Although the initial setup costs were similar to those of replacing the gas heaters because we had to insulate the loft and roof spaces, we know we’re going to save money in the long term,” said the Friends.
“The government has also introduced a grant of £300 to part-pay for a heating system whether you’re renting or owning your home.”
The building is now heated with three 2.5kw heaters, with a radio controlled unit for the main meeting room. There is a 1.5kw heater in the entrance hall and a 2kw unit in separate children’s building”.
“It’s noticeably warmer now and we don’t need to have the heating on all the time now,” said the Friends.
“We have yet to start reaping the monetary rewards, but at least we can hold meetings in comfort without worrying about the gas bill.”
1 The term ‘Friends’ has been used as all decisions about the heating system were made via a democratic process and no one Quaker can fully take responsibility for the decisions made.