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Could 'central heating for cities' cut your energy bills?

Could 'central heating for cities' cut your energy bills?

Could 'central heating for cities' cut your energy bills?

Companies looking for ways to reduce their energy bills could receive a helping hand from the government, which has announced a new investment in so-called 'central heating for cities' schemes.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change revealed plans to spend £320 million over the next five years on low-carbon heat networks, which will operate in towns and cities across the UK.

A consultation is underway on how best to deploy the funding for heat networks, which are already common in parts of the world like Scandinavia.

They work by replacing individual heaters in buildings with a large central heat source, which delivers heat via pipes to a network of buildings or possibly even entire districts.

Often called combined heat and power plants, these central sources also function as small power stations and capture the heat produced in electricity generation.

Heat can be collected from various sources, including deep geothermal plants, which derive heat from rocks miles below the surface of the earth.

Networks of homes and businesses can also prove important when it comes to capturing and reusing heat that would otherwise be wasted.

An example of this in action is the heat network in Islington, north London, which was recently expanded to enable it to collect heat emanating from the London Underground.

Without the network, this excess heat would simply be deposited into the atmosphere.

Introducing the consultation on how to use the £320 million funding, Amber Rudd, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said the project was part of the UK's drive to become more sustainable and efficient in how it consumes energy.

"This is an important next step in developing more home-grown energy, which is a vital part of our plan to ensure long-term energy security and affordable energy for our families and businesses," she said.

"The funding we're consulting on today will enable these schemes to provide affordable low-carbon energy to thousands of homes and businesses across Britain's towns and cities."

Heat networks are already operating in cities like Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham and Southampton, but the UK is lagging behind some of its European neighbours in the adoption of these systems.

In the Danish capital Copenhagen, for example, 90 per cent of homes are connected to a network, while Paris is surrounded by a ring of deep geothermal heating.

This could well be an innovation that has a big impact on companies in the future, but in the meantime, businesses looking to improve energy efficiency can implement some measures of their own.

As far as heating and cooling is concerned, make sure you set your temperature controls to match weather conditions and use time settings to reflect levels of occupancy in the workplace.

If you want to cut down on power consumption, ensure lights and electronic devices are switched off when not in use and replace older fluorescent tubes or light bulbs with newer, greener alternatives.

You should also ensure that every aspect of your business is efficient by only working with external companies and third-party suppliers that have solid environmental credentials.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock / Wojciech Kozielczyk