Three businesses, in Belmont Industrial Estate represent a unique opportunity to compare different heating solutions in similar industrial units

Heating is one of the most important things to consider when a business is setting up a (moving into) new premises, and its vitally important to get right because if you don’t, you’ll end up with massive energy bills and disgruntled customers and staff. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy since there are so many factors to consider, and different businesses will have different requirements.

Low carbon heating is one of our biggest challenges as we look to tackle the climate crisis. Gas provides an effective and relatively cheap way to heat large spaces (even with the recent price squeeze, it is less than half the price of electricity per kWh). Unfortunately, natural gas cannot be decarbonised, so a replacement heating solution is needed. (Hydrogen could meet this demand, but it is not commercially available yet and not guaranteed to be low carbon either).

A good example of this can be found on Belmont Industrial Estate, where BEEP has worked with three different businesses to help them improve their heating in similar industrial units. Wilkins and Stroud Hair and Beauty Superstore, Durham Interiors and Ace Motorcycle training contacted the ERDF funded programme – BEEP in 2020 seeking advice on reducing their heating costs. All three businesses had recently moved into a new premise, none of which had a gas connection.

Each business received an energy audit which identified possible solutions to keep occupants comfortable in the most efficient way. They considered multiple solutions and eventually decided on the following:

  • Wilkins and Stroud were relying on electric fan heaters in their unit, with a destratification fan to blow hot air back down to the ground to prevent it becoming trapped at the ceiling. This solution was not suitable though, since not only were occupants cold but the electric bills were sky high. They decided to install a suspended ceiling to reduce the volume of air that they were trying to heat up.
  • Durham Interiors also installed a suspended ceiling but used heat pumps to warm up the space instead of electric fan heaters, drawing thermal energy from the air above their suspended ceiling.
  • Ace Motorcycles went for a different solution – infrared heating panels. This solution did not require a suspended ceiling as the panels heat up whichever spot they are aimed towards – like a desk lamp or a spotlight but for heat. This solution was more suitable for Ace Motorcycles, especially in the workshop area where their mechanics work in the same spot for much of their day.

Together, these 3 businesses represent a unique opportunity to compare different heating solutions in similar industrial units. It is also a microcosm of the challenge we face in decarbonising heating. Every business has different occupancy hours, heating demands and different budgets. The next few years these businesses can provide some insight into how effective their chosen solution is.