Heating systems for commercial buildings are slightly different from the ones for domestic buildings in that the planning is on a much larger scale and in most buildings the installations must include ventilation, air-conditioning and heating. With each element being a momentous task and investment in itself, it pays to look closely at the options available and for ways of saving money.

Electric HeatThe three main types of commercial heating are:

  • A radiator system, which includes a boiler, pump and distribution pipework.
  • Air-handling units, which circulate warm air throughout the building.
  • Electric heaters, consisting of stand-alone electric heaters or a ventilation system heated by electric.

All of these methods in vast commercial buildings can prove to be terribly expensive but there are ways to reduce the bills:

  • Take care of your boilers – Servicing your commercial boilers regularly (we recommend once a year) will ensure that they last longer and perform more efficiently. Ask for a combustion report each time your boiler is serviced. This will give you an indication of how things post-service have improved in regards to levels of carbon dioxide and flue gas temperatures.
  • Turn the heat down – If you have radiators, either turn them down or ensure that you have thermostatic radiator valves, setting them to the minimum comfort level. By lowering the room temperature by 1° C it can lower your annual heating bill by 8-10%. If you have electric heating (which is always rather expensive), make sure you add timed thermostats and check the settings regularly.
  • Manage the fans – If ventilation is not required, ensure the fans are off, or turned down.
  • Prioritise areas – Look at the outlay and pinpoint the areas that aren’t occupied by people and the areas where people are more active. Use timed thermostats to control heat in these areas, making them comfortable for people when they are in use, but saving energy when they are not.
  • Keep heaters uncluttered – Ensuring heaters are uncluttered and uncovered not only stops heat from being wasted but also keeps the area safe from dangerously ‘hot’ surfaces being accidentally touched. Heaters situated close to people are better off being mounted at safe levels, in your immediate field of vision and controlled by a ‘black bulb thermostat.’
  • Install Interlock – Fitting these switches in scarcely used rooms will turn off the heating when the door is open. This will save money and prevent heat from being wasted.
  • Check insulation – For boiler systems, check that the pipework and tank are sensibly insulated and make sure that there are no leaks.
  • Control the hot water – Install timers that deliver hot water only when it’s needed, and by setting the temperature to 60 degrees, this will provide water at a temperature of around 56 degrees – plenty hot enoughThermostat 2!
  • Place thermostats for optimum efficiency – Ensure these are placed away from direct heat, sunlight and draughts.
  • Don’t double your bills – If you have a centralised system that provides heating and hot water, then turn off your immersion heater or you will be paying for hot water twice.
  • Set sensible time controls – Allowing adequate time to pre-heat the building before occupancy will remove the need for turning up the heat when people enter the building.

However your commercial property is heated, it’s imperative that the installation and maintenance is carried out by professionals with reliable work history and genuine guarantees. Planning for maximum energy efficiency might not be the most exciting of tasks, but it does help you to save money!

[Photos by Ronnie B, Alan Bruce and David Lat]