Northmuir Hall, Kirriemuir
Unlike homes or commercial business properties, the heating systems installed in many community buildings are typically ineffective, and Northmuir Hall in Kirriemuir was no different.
When it came to heating the space adequately for the range of activities on offer – both active and sedentary – the committee and hall users found the gas heating system to be inflexible and unfit for purpose. The volunteer hall-keepers had to set up weekly heating programmes to suit each activity booking the hall – a monotonous, time-consuming, and inconvenient task. Not to mention cumbersome due to the hall having two gas boilers to programme individually.
Short notice hires were particularly troublesome to deal with as they often resulted in the hall-keeper having to stop what he was doing to physically go to the hall and turn on the heating for the new hire.
In meeting their obligations under health & safety rules, radiators had been fitted with cool-wall covers to prevent burns. And this impacted heat distribution due to their design; heating the entire roof space before any warmth was enjoyed at ground level by hall occupants. Also, the thermostatic controls were inaccessible underneath the covers, so regardless of the time of year, individual radiators could not be turned up or down without involving two people.
The committee sought a heating system that would be effective, easy to control and offer flexibility in terms of heating different areas of the hall at different temperatures to suit the multi-functional uses of the hall. They also wanted to address the increasing number of complaints from hall users about the cold temperatures they were experiencing.
In searching for a solution, the hall committee sought a system that would adequately heat the hall and allow them to operate more efficiently. An internet search led them to Prioto.
The installation team isolated and removed the two existing gas boilers, along with 24 wall-mounted radiators; replacing them with 22 ceiling-mounted Far Infrared Heaters. In doing so, floor space was significantly maximised within the main hall and in other areas, and the removal of the boilers returned much-needed cupboard storage space.
The team also installed electric point-of-use water heaters to deliver instant hot water in the kitchen and toilets. These have proven to be an energy-efficient and exceptionally cost-effective way to heat water electrically.
While the initial installation of the heating system was completed in 2016, the committee decided to add an override function in 2018. This function allows hall users to boost the heating manually for one hour, if needed, without involving the hall-keeper. With the addition of Solar PV panels to the roof, the value of electric heating at the site in the future could increase.
The most significant benefit of the Prioto installation is convenience. The infrared heating can be controlled remotely by the hall-keeper using the app on his mobile phone or computer. Before Prioto, to ensure the hall would be heated in his absence, he had to arrange holiday cover. Now, he can do this quickly and from anywhere in the world. Additionally, those short notice hires no longer present an inconvenience; the heating can be turned on and controlled, literally, at the touch of a button without having to visit the hall.
Another advantage of Prioto is the financial savings that are being realised from the removal of the gas supply. Repairs, servicing and costly annual gas safety checks by registered engineers – which are a legal requirement for landlords – are no longer required.
In terms of health & safety, Prioto heating has removed any carbon monoxide risks as there is now no burning of gas in the building. Despite being asked not to place objects or papers on the old radiator covers, it would often happen. With the Prioto heaters at ceiling height, this fire safety risk is no longer an issue.
Ultimately, the Prioto installation has resulted in fewer complaints about the hall being cold, and the ceiling-mounted heaters allow for better use of the hall space. For example, additional guests can be accommodated at functions due to the space for extra tables and chairs.