Energy reduced by 11% and a payback of 1.1 years. But how did Scarborough Borough Council build the business case for tackling its ageing heating system?

Building the business case for energy efficiency improvements can be challenging, especially when it comes to products you've got no experience of. Here's how Scarborough Borough Council tackled it.

Key facts

By altering the size of the bubbles in the water of the heating system, it's energy efficiency is claimed to be improved.
  • Organisation: Scarborough Borough Council
  • Sector: Local authority
  • Location: Scarborough, North Yorkshire
  • Name of project: EnergySaver
  • Area of focus: Boiler efficiency

Project summary

As a local authority have numerous boilers across our portfolio of buildings and typically consume some 6,285,000 kWhs of gas a year. 11.6% of this consumption is consumed within our Town Hall building. The Town Hall is an older building with an old gas fired heating system, therefore getting the best out of this old heating system whilst maintaining building comfort levels has always presented quite a challenge. The building is controlled through a building management system (BMS) and we have always run a very tight ship, ensuring that heating hours match the demands of the building and nothing more.

We came across the EnergySaver product and decided to undertake a little research into how it could be used within the Town Hall. EnergySaver is a chemical additive to a heating system. It works by improving the heat transfer within the boiler. When water reacts with the heat exchange unit it boils, this creates large irregular bubbles which carry the heat into the main water flow. As these bubbles develop their size causes them to come together and restrict the heat transfer process. EnergySaver changes the way water boils at the heat exchange unit by generating smaller bubbles which pulls the heat away faster than in untreated water.

Effectively EnergySaver improves the efficiency of the heat transfer process and in doing so reduces gas consumption. EnergySaver is injected at a ratio of 1/100 litres based on the volume size of the heating system.

What was the challenge?

The challenge lay in where to pitch the level of expected savings.

The challenge lay in where to pitch the level of expected savings. We believed the theory behind the product to be technically sound, although as we had no experience of using the EnergySaver product we had no basis for any kind of expectation level.

The supplier indicated that an order of 73 litres was required in order to satisfy the heating load of the Town Hall. However, with no basis to gauge energy savings we had a real struggle in developing a business case for this project. Therefore we were delighted when the supplier suggested we trial the product before we buy. The supplier agreed to supply and install free of charge pending the trial.

Actions taken

Prior to the trial and to maximise potential savings the supplier recommended draining, cleaning and flushing our heating system. Our in house heating engineers recommended against this, claiming it would cause more problems as the system was old.

73 litres of EnergySaver was injected into the Town Hall heating system on 1st October 2013. Over the next three months we closely monitored the results.

Results

Gas consumption at the Town Hall for period 1st October 2013 – 31st December 2013 (with EnergySaver) was 212,889kWhs, compared with the same period the previous year (without EnergySaver) of 254,161 kWhs a saving of 41,272 kWhs. This represents a reduction in consumption of 16.2% before weather correction and 11% after weather correction was applied.

Lessons learnt

Using weather correction gave us the confidence to follow up the trial with an order. With an anticipated 11% saving we worked out that this project would achieve payback within 1.1 years. We also had the luxury of a fit and forget product on our hands.

Next steps

The next steps have been to assess the feasibility of installing EnergySaver at our other buildings. If we can save 11% at the Town Hall then hopefully we can replicate that saving at the Scarborough indoor swimming pool, our largest gas consumer.