Cambrook House development

Addressing the heating problems experienced by tenants and carers at a development near Bath

Project duration: September 2010 to February 2013

Despite meeting recent building regulations and being designed with good levels of energy efficiency, a residential development near Bath found that, until recently, some of its residents were experiencing high bills and cold flats.

Completed in the summer of 2009, Cambrook House in Peasdown St John provides living accommodation for vulnerable young adults with autism. The building was designed with the aim of promoting their independent living skills.

Since its occupants moved in almost two years ago, a number have experienced problems with the operation of the exhaust air source heat pump (eASHP) systems present in each flat largely due to a limited understanding of the user controls, which in turn have led to cold flats and high fuel bills.

CSE were brought on board by the building’s managers, Flourish Housing Association, after they had already completed a number of investigations to resolve the issues identified. A series of measures were subsequently implemented.

But on-going concern from the residents and their parents led to CSE being commissioned to produce an independent study to evaluate and monitor the operation of the heating system, and to present a series of recommendations.

Cambrook House was commissioned by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Adult Care Service, and consists of eight one-bedroom self contained flats with communal areas. It is part of a larger new-build development with a further 17 two- and three-bedroom houses.

It was designed to meet certain carbon emission targets and ensure the independence of occupants was a priority. CSE’s subsequent study of the extent and cause of the problems reported at Cambrook House focused on looking at three areas:

1.    metered energy consumption data
2.    theoretical energy performance modelling of the flats
3.    the experiences and practices of the tenants and parents

The study came up with a series of conclusions and recommendations:

  • Revised guidance to be issued to the parents
  • Further training sessions to be held for both parents and other relevant staff
  • Coordination of all flats simultaneously switching between NIBE control settings 1 and 2 and an individual role is formalised with responsibility for monitoring weather forecasts
  • Specific monitoring of energy use is implemented on two of the higher energy use flats

The full results of the initial study can be found here.

Phase 2 of the study involved on-site monitoring of electricity use in selected flats to further understand the energy consumption patterns within the flats.

The following equipment was installed in December 2011, for each of the flats being monitored.

  • Supplementary mains electricity meters with dataloggers recording 10-minute electricity consumption in kWh
  • Electricity meters on the electricity feed to each NIBE unit with dataloggers recording 10-minute electricity consumption in kWh
  • Heat meters on the space heating circuits and hot water output of each NIBE unit recording monthly heat consumption in kWh
  • Temperature of air flow inlet to NIBE unit recording half-hourly average temperature
  • Internal temperature (located on lounge wall) recording half-hourly average temperature

Sensors were also installed to monitor the following:

  • External temperature recording half-hourly average temperature;
  • Temperature of the roof spaces above the 1st floor landing area.

Key patterns were identified in the monitoring data with the conclusion that the monitored NIBE units were performing broadly as designed within all four flats. Variations in consumption are more likely to be due to a combination of factors, including the rates of ventilation, orientation, build quality (including insulation levels), and user behavior (including choice of unit settings).

For further information contact:

Martin Holley | 0117 934 1419

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