Chale Community Project, Energising Chale.

"People in Chale have always helped each other"

Our aims are:

  1. To reduce fuel costs
  2. To generate local employment opportunities
  3. To create a sustainable community

See all our aims

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Technology - Pilot Project

The goal of the Chale Community Project is to find ways in which to reduce energy use and fuel costs in a range of houses in the Chale community. We aim to do this by providing information on how people can save energy in their homes whilst providing a range of new technologies to improve energy efficiency.

The first part of the project will involve the retrofit of 67 homes in Spanners Close with renewable technologies.

Spanners Close was built in the 1970s and is typical of the sort of housing stock you can find all over the UK.

Chale is a community off-gas and the houses and flats are currently heated with night storage heaters.


The technologies that are going into place on Spanners Close are:

1. Air to Water Heat Pump

This is a type of air source heat pump. Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air. This heat can then be used to warm water for radiators or underfloor heating systems, or to warm the air in your home.

There are two main types:

An air-to-water system uses the heat to warm water. Heat pumps heat water to a lower temperature than a standard boiler system would, so they are more suitable for underfloor heating systems than radiator systems.

An air-to-air system produces warm air which is circulated by fans to heat your home.

How do air source heat pumps work?

An air source heat pump extracts heat from the outside air in the same way that a fridge extracts heat from its inside. It can extract heat from the air even when the outside temperature is as low as minus 15° C.

The efficiency of air source heat pump systems is measured by a coefficient of performance (CoP) - the amount of heat they produce compared to the amount of electricity needed to run them. A typical CoP for an air source heat pump is around 2.5.

The benefits of air source heat pumps

Reduce fuel bills: air source heat pumps run on electricity, so there's no need to pay for gas, oil or solid fuels to heat your home.

Cut down on wasted electricity: heating your home with an air source heat pump is much more efficient than using electric radiators.

Save space: an air source heat pump system is compact, and requires no storage space for fuel.

2. The air to water heat pumps will be linked to a new water filled radiator system (the number of radiators is dependent on the type of house you are in) which will be thermostatically controlled in each room. These radiators are a special enlarged version designed for wet air source systems.

3. There will be a new hot water cylinder that can take the feed from the Air to Water Heat Pump and also provide the basis for the hot water system. This will be backed up by an immersion heater*. The hot water and heating system will be available 24 hours a day.

Immersion heater: An immersion heater is an electric element which screws into the hot water tank. This element is wired to the mains electrical supply via an isolating switch, a thermostat to control the temperature, and sometimes a timer which enables you set the times you wish to have the water heated. Using a timer, together with a well insulated tank, it is possible to heat the water when electricity rates are at their cheapest (Economy 7 between 12 midnight and 7 am), and use it during the day. It is worth remembering that the hot water from an immersion heater is always drawn from the top of the cylinder, where it has risen over the cold water underneath (convection current). The cold water, fed to the tank from underneath, gives the hot water the pressure it needs to leave the cylinder, from the top, when required by the taps. Some tanks can contain two elements, giving you a choice as to how much water you want to heat up at any one time. It is quite rare nowadays for the immersion heater to be the only method of domestic water heating in a home and the immersion is generally used as a back up to one, or both, of the following two methods. 

4. New double glazed windows will be fitted to most houses which will help to improve the thermal efficiency of these homes.

5. Loft insulation will be inspected and increased in the houses where it is felt necessary to reduce heat loss through the roof.

6. Photovoltaic Solar Panels (also known as “Solar PVs”) will be fitted to roofs which will generate electricity and work on ambient light (not just direct sunlight) so that they will work even on cloudy days although their output will be reduced. The electricity they generate will be provided to homes and will be FREE to us – helping to reduce electricity bills.

7. Some water efficiency measures will be introduced along with information on how to save water that will help to reduce water bills.

Overall the new heating systems that are being installed in Spanners Close will enable residents to have a more even, controllable heat in their homes which will be much more efficient than the night storage systems that are currently in place.

The Solar PV on the roofs will mean that when there is enough daylight residents will be able to benefit from the FREE electricity generated from the panels.

The survey that was conducted by ECD Architects to work out the best form of heating for the properties in Spanners Close indicates that this will enable residents to have more comfortable, warmer homes while at the same time reducing their fuel bills.

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