Heat Pumps Breathe New Life into Welsh Arts Centre

Monday, 5th December 2011
Local firm WDS Environmental can claim a big success as air-source heat pumps installed as part of a replacement heating system for the oldest working-men’s institute in Wales helped reduced running costs by 55% in the first year, signalling a payback of 10 years. Two Dimplex LA40 air-source heat pumps were installed by installer partner WDS Environmental during the cold Winter of 2009, with back-up heat provided by two gas-fired boilers. During cold weather in the Winter, running costs were reduced by around £250 a month.   Ebbw Vale Institute (EVI) has served as a town hall since 1849 and is now a listed building that has been regenerated with the help of a £290 000 cash boost from the Welsh Assembly. Funding of £60 000 for the heating system was secured from the Heads of the Valleys Fund as the use of air-source heat pumps was not provided for within the LCBP2 programme.   The traditionally built building has 28 high-ceilinged rooms. They have been transformed into facilities that include a theatre, dance studio, gallery, recording room and rehearsal space for musicians. There are also facilities for start-up businesses, as well as for conferences and events — including weddings.   Geoff Cheason, an architect with Lapider and a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, reviewed all aspects of the building. He explains, ‘This is a large building with large rooms, and it’s used at all times of the day and evening — so getting the heating right was very important.   ‘When we took over the building, there was no roof insulation, so that was a priority. We’d specified Dimplex heat pumps for other projects, so we knew what they could do on their own and with extra insulation, and so far the savings are paying off.’   WDS Environmental Ltd has now merged with Green Dragon Energy Ltd to form WDS Green Energy Ltd, with offices in Cardiff, Swansea and Brecon and offer a number of green solutions including heat pumps, solar, wind generators and underfloor heating.