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Savings, ahoy! Shipping container project slashes tenant bills by 50%

Residents living on a conservation area in the West Midlands are set to enjoy savings of more than 50% on their annual fuel bills thanks to a forward-thinking renewable heating system in a shipping container.

Social housing provider, Bromford Housing, enlisted the help of heating manufacturer, Vaillant, to replace the old storage heaters in 24 flats in New Road, Solihull with energy efficient technology.

The challenge was that New Road is situated in a conservation area where there are strict rules on how the exterior of the properties must look, which ruled out the use of gas boilers because of the visible flues.

In the end, ground source heat pumps were chosen as they are discreet; all pipework is underground and the heat pumps themselves are indoor units. The risers could also be disguised with special cladding in keeping with the building’s aesthetic.

After performing a heat calculation for each flat, Vaillant advised that three 38kW geoTHERM heat pumps would meet the residents’ requirements for heating and hot water.

In conjunction with its installation partner, J Tomlinson Ltd, Vaillant devised a creative solution to construct an energy centre inside an insulated shipping container containing three 38kW geoTHERM ground source heat pumps, two 1,000 litre buffer cylinders, a twin headed brine pump and custom, weather compensated controls with integrated heat generator meters for individualised tenant billing.

The energy centre was assembled off-site and delivered by a specialist haulage company, reducing disruption to tenants to just one day – a drastic improvement on the several months of disruption anticipated if the project had been on site.

Nigel Gosling, senior contracts manager at Bromford Living, comments: “This ingenious solution enabled a complicated, high technology system to be installed quickly and efficiently. The energy centre cannot be seen by the residents or the surrounding community and yet will have such a profound impact on their lives, reducing their fuel bills by an average of £706 per annum and giving them more control over their heating. It also means that we will benefit from Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for the next 20 years.”

John Bailey, sales director - commercial and renewable systems at Vaillant Group, adds: “We thoroughly enjoyed helping Bromford with this project, which has resulted in a thoroughly modern heating system for the residents that doesn’t compromise the visual appeal of a beautiful Victorian building.

“Centralised heating is something we are helping our customers to explore more and more, as it has numerous benefits that go far beyond carbon reduction and energy savings. With the shipping container set-up, Bromford will only need to service and maintain the easily accessible energy centre as opposed to servicing each product in every flat, eliminating issues with gaining access.”