Environmental Information Exchange


Energy for heating represents about 60% of energy use for the average business (Source: Carbon Trust). Inefficient energy use costs more money than is necessary. There are a number of areas where heating can be improved to save energy and maintain a comfortable temperature for the building's occupants and reduce costs. It is important to check that rooms are not simultaneously being heated with one appliance while drawing in air conditioning with another appliance. For appliances that can do both, check that settings on the thermostats are appropriate for heating and cooling purposes.

Heating systems

Heating systems increase a room's temperature to compensate for heat losses between the room and outside. Essentially, the more modern a heating system is the more energy efficient it will be. However, to ensure a system is efficient, the Enhanced Capital Allowance website lists heating equipment certified to an optimal level of efficiency. Regular maintenance of heating systems, which is a legal requirement, provides a business with its efficiency ratings. It is important to ensure that maintenance includes updating efficiency ratings and setting heating optimally. This may include CO2 to gas ratios, and flue settings (for gas boilers). Most heating systems in the UK are 'wet' using hot water pumped through radiators. Other systems include:

Types of heater

Convector heaters

Warm up quickly and can be efficiently used to heat medium to large rooms. A majority of convector heaters can be wall mounted or free standing allowing them to be moved around at will.

Storage heaters

Store heat during off peak periods when electricity is cheaper, usually overnight. The stored heat is then released into the room the following day. Storage heaters have two controls; input and output which are adjusted in anticipation of the weather.

Forced air heating

Draws air in a room through ductwork and filters into a heating furnace where it is warmed using gas, electricity, wood or oil. The warm air is then blown back into the room through vents. This system can be combined with air conditioning for cooling purposes

Under-floor heating

Warm water is circulated from a boiler using continuous piping heating the room from the floor up. For this heating system to be worthwhile in terms of both heating bills and energy efficiency, it is essential to have proper insulation as floor heating and cooling down can take up to 24 hours.

Heating controls

Heating controls determine when heating systems are on and ensure that they are effectively managed and energy is not wasted. Energy is saved when heating is used minimally to achieve comfortable temperatures as stated in The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. There are a number of ways heating can be managed:

Often, only a few staff members have been trained to set controls. By ensuring that a wider range of employees fully understand the heating controls, energy can be saved. Employee training can be offered by companies supplying heating controls or contractors who install the controls.

Heating controls, such as thermostats, timers or more complex building management systems, determine when heating systems are on and ensure that they are effectively managed and energy is not wasted.