Technology – Pilot Project

The goal of the Chale Community Project is to find ways in which to reduce energy use and fuel costs in a range of houses in the Chale community. We aim to do this by providing information on how people can save energy in their homes whilst providing a range of new technologies to improve energy efficiency.

The first part of the project will involve the retrofit of 67 homes in Spanners Close with renewable energy technologies. Spanners Close was built in the 1970s and is typical of the sort of housing stock you can find all over the UK.

Chale is a community off-gas and the houses and flats are currently heated with night storage heaters. These are notoriously inefficient, tend to give out their heat in the early part of the day and often leave residents struggling for heat in the evening. They tend to deliver a very dry heat and are unable to respond to demands for extra heat during the day – as a result of which many of the residents are reluctant to use them at all. They are also very expensive to run.


The aim of this part of the project is to provide renewable energy technologies that make more efficient use of energy and provide a better all round heating solution for the residents. It is not clear at the moment what the net result of the changes will be in that some residents will clearly use the increased energy efficiency to provide themselves with better whole house heating and as a result may trade off some of their potential savings in fuel cost for warmer homes. Others may use the new technologies more discretely in which case we imagine they will see significant savings in their energy bills. As a result of the Solar Photovoltaic panels they will also get the added benefit of a contribution to the units they are using during daylight hours. Overall we hope to be able to demonstrate fuel cost savings of up to 50% and Carbon Reductions of similar proportions.

The technologies that are going into place on Spanners Close are:

1. Air Source Heat Pump ( Air to Water ): This is a type of air source heat pump. Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air. This heat can then be used to warm water for radiators or under-floor heating systems. An air-to-water system uses the heat to warm water.

An air source heat pump extracts heat from the outside air in the same way that a fridge extracts heat from its inside. It can extract heat from the air even when the outside temperature is as low as minus 15° C. The benefits of air source heat pumps include an increase in efficiency over the existing night storage heaters which means that residents should see significant savings in their electricity bills. They don’t require a solid fuel store ( i.e. coal / wood ) and they are compact so don’t take up much space.

2. The air source heat pumps will be linked to a new water filled radiator system (the number of radiators is dependent on the type of house you are in) which will be thermostatically controlled in each room. These radiators are a special enlarged version designed for wet air source systems.

3. There will be a new hot water cylinder that will take the feed from the Air to Water Heat Pump and provide the basis for the hot water system. This will be backed up by an immersion heater which may be needed on occasions to reach the required temperature quickly. The hot water and heating system will be available 24 hours a day.

4. New double glazed windows will be fitted to most houses which will help to improve the thermal efficiency of these homes.

5. Loft insulation will be inspected and increased in the houses where it is felt necessary to reduce heat loss through the roof.

6. Photovoltaic Solar Panels (also known as “Solar PVs”) will be fitted to roofs which will generate electricity and work on ambient light (not just direct sunlight) so that they will work even on cloudy days although their output will be reduced. The electricity they generate will be provided to homes and will be FREE to the residents – helping to further reduce electricity bills.

7. Some water efficiency measures will be introduced along with information on how to save water that will help to reduce water bills.

Overall the new heating systems that are being installed in Spanners Close will enable residents to have a more even, controllable heat in their homes which will be much more efficient than the night storage systems that are currently in place. The Solar PV on the roofs will mean that when there is enough daylight residents will be able to benefit from the FREE electricity generated from the panels.

The whole house energy solution was arrived at as a result of the detailed survey work carried out by ECD Architects on a whole range of properties in Spanners Close. The final conclusions of which deduced that the above combination was likely to produce the best savings in terms of carbon reduction and fuel costs with the funding that was available.