Bowled over by Vaillant solution


01 March 2022

When Glengarnock Ironworks Bowling and Community Club wanted to decarbonise the heat used in their pavilion, the age and unique requirements of the building meant that a standalone air source heat pump solution wasn’t the most effective option. However, a hybrid system - combining heat pump technology with a modern gas boiler - enabled the club to reduce its carbon emissions and meet its heating needs. 

With help from a lesser-known Scottish government grant to buy and install this solution, club members can continue to enjoy the pavilion facilities comfortably, but in a more sustainable way.

Looking for a sustainable solution

For decades, the heating and hot water in the pavilion at the club had been powered by a Vaillant gas boiler. With the boiler nearing the end of its life and the club keen to reduce its carbon footprint and energy bill, it started looking at ways to make the building’s heating more sustainable.   

The club sought advice from Zero Waste Scotland, a not-for-profit environmental organisation. Funded by the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund, Zero Waste Scotland has been set-up to help accelerate resource efficiencies for Scottish SME’s. It carried out a virtual survey of the club’s heating requirements, where it was suggested an air source heat pump in tandem with gas boiler could be the most effective solution to improve the energy efficiency of the building. 

To make some ‘on the ground’ estimates for installing a new low carbon heating system, the club called upon MCA Renewables, a renewable energy consultancy and installer business based in Glasgow, for their expertise. 

Maximising efficiency

Working with the experts from MCA Renewables and Valliant, an assessment of the bowling club’s requirements was carried out. It was recommended that a hybrid heating solution, combining a heat pump and a gas boiler, would be the most effective option. 

As the clubhouse is mainly used in the summer months, during this time the air source heat pump would be able to provide all the bowling club’s heating and hot water demand. The boiler would therefore only be used during the colder winter months, when temperatures drop, to support additional heating requirements.

With the air source heat pump meeting 80% of the building’s peak heat requirements, the club’s fossil fuel use was reduced by 75%. During cold winter spells, the back-up boiler offers a cost-effective way to support the heat pump in meeting the club’s additional heating and hot water demands. 

To further maximise efficiencies and ensure the building was retaining as much heat as possible, the club also installed loft insulation. Combined with the hybrid heating system, the insulation will help the building to be heated efficiently and sustainably, without it being cost-prohibitive.  

Technical expertise

MCA Renewables designed and installed the system, with Vaillant on hand to support them through the whole process. 

Director of MCA Renewables, Terry Doherty, said: “When we approached Vaillant with the heat loss calculations and information about this project, they helped with recommending the right products. They also checked all the calculations to make sure that the system we designed met the pavilion’s heat demands, even when temperatures drop during the coldest months in Scotland.

“We also installed a wireless Vaillant sensoCOMFORT controller. It has an outdoor sensor and weather compensation functionality, which means it can select the most energy efficient heat source for the system to use based on the outside climate. 

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“The bowling club can also use the controller to set different temperatures and timings for the system and can programme in the cost of their gas and electric to help keep track of bills.”

The Vaillant controller with the Vaillant air source heat pump and the Vaillant ecoTEC plus boiler also allows it to modulate the system to optimise efficiency. Meaning the system only works as hard as it needs to - reaching the correct temperature without wasting additional energy. This ensures peak performance and optimum efficiency for the system.

Frost protection

The fluid inside a heat pump must remain in a liquid state to pump heat around the system, and this can be challenging for the system components located outside. A heat exchanger unit can help protect the fluid flowing through a heat pump from freezing. This also reduces the need to use glycol (anti-freeze) throughout the entire system. 

A Vaillant heat exchanger unit was installed at the club which allows the connected glycol (anti-freeze) circuit to be separated from the main heating circuit, reducing the amount of glycol that is needed. The heat exchanger will also prevent the contamination of glycol circuits in the future, if the club needs to remove, drain or re-fill any radiators. 

To provide the heat needed to defrost the heat pump, without drawing energy away from heating the pavilion, a Vaillant 45 litre buffer tank was also installed.

Getting support

The Renewable Heat Incentive is no longer available for commercial installations; however, Glengarnock Bowling Club was able to secure funding for their new heating system from the Scottish Government, via Zero Waste Scotland.

The Scottish Government offers small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) interest-free loans of up to £100,000 to implement energy efficiency measures and/or renewable heat technologies. In addition, there are also cashback grants available for those who fit the eligibility criteria, up to £20,000. 

“It’s a fantastic scheme, but not many people know about it or how to apply. That’s where Zero Waste Scotland come in.” said Jim Gibson, treasurer of the Glengarnock Bowling Club. “They did an initial survey of the club pavillion virtually, and after the results were validated by MCA Renewables, they guided us through the funding process. With their help, we secured £26,000 for the new heating system, loft insulation and new lighting – and because we were installing a heat pump, we were given £11,000 in the form of a grant that won’t have to be repaid.”

The remainder of the funding was provided as an interest-free loan, which the club will repay over an eight-year period. 

The future is green

With the new hybrid system having been in place for a few months, club members have been delighted with the efficiency it has delivered for them so far. What’s more, they expect to see financial savings during the winter months through reduced energy bills. 

“The most immediate change for the club has been the building being at a consistent temperature. Previously, we had an on-off system that would mean it would take a while to heat up. The hybrid system provides much more consistency, and I’m really impressed with the quality of the product.” said Jim. 

“The customer service and expertise from Vaillant and MCA Renewables was second-to-none. The installation team worked with us closely and helped to time the project delivery around the funding schedule. The installation was well-managed and completed within a week, which meant disruption was kept to an absolute minimum. 

“Even better, we have reduced our reliance on fossil fuels by 75%, which will play a huge part in helping us lessen our impact on the planet too.”