3 March 2021

Around 9,000 schools in the UK were constructed between 1945 and 1966 and just over 11,500 between 1967 and 1976. And these dates often reflect low building energy efficiency – and ageing heating systems.

Alpha Heating Innovation has been involved in the refurbishment of many school heating and hot water systems, and we’re aware of the challenges clients in this sector face. A significant proportion of schools spend more than half their annual budget on heating and hot water. So, a modern heating system is not just a matter of improved energy efficiency – it’s also about controlling school running costs.

But the decision to invest in a new heating system can represent a large slice of a school’s overall budget, so it has to be taken carefully. Too often, a school has to respond quickly when a thirty-year-old boiler finally gives up the ghost, temperatures are dropping and there is no hot water. That’s not the ideal time to weigh up the long-term savings of switching to a new boiler system.

It makes sense to take a look at the efficiencies offered by a modern condensing boiler as soon as possible. If heating represents half the running costs of a school building, any financial savings can be almost immediately applied elsewhere to the benefit of staff and students. What’s more, a modern heating system means fewer break-downs and disruptions.

Condensing boiler technology offers a step-change in energy efficiency. They can be applied singly, but an innovative way to use them is in a cascade heating system. This includes a number of condensing boilers connected through hydraulic and gas pipework, linking each boiler and flue together.

In our experience, this is an approach that addresses many of the main challenges for school heating and hot water provision. A cascade system, with multiple smaller boilers connected together, offers flexibility in installation. This is vital when looking at projects in older buildings where plant rooms can be difficult to get to or small in size.

Alpha Heating Innovation’s cascade systems, for example, can be floor-standing or wall-mounted and they can work in a number of configurations: side-by-side, back-to-back or an L-shape. This gives installers extra choices, helping them to work faster.

And for schools that need to avoid shut-downs caused by a failed boiler, the cascade approach offers built-in redundancy. Instead of relying on a single boiler, which has to be repaired before the heating works again, a series of boilers continues to operate even if one of them fails. The system automatically compensates for the loss of a single unit – so the school stays open while engineers carry out repairs.

Investing in a new heating and hot water system for a school shouldn’t be an ‘emergency’ purchase. With good planning and advice, it’s possible to make smart choices, that offer greater comfort and reliability as well as saving energy – and operating costs. At Alpha Heating Innovation, our expertise in this sector means we can provide helpful insights based on real-life experience for schools looking to make that step change in efficiency and reliability.

If you would like to find out more about cascade heating systems for the school environment, download our FREE guide >> Cascade boiler systems in schools