Care home sustainability is growing on the radar of operations & building managers. It is becoming a facet of the decision-making for families and an indicator of the personal comfort the residential client can expect from a facility. Refurbishing existing facilities has a number of implications, not least cost, but also disturbance of residents, so where can quick, easier wins be made as part of a decarbonisation strategy?
Every care home needs hot water. From basins to baths and showers, catering and wash down. Most facilities will run successfully on a system based around gas-fired water heaters unless a new build in which case the preference is to move to electric water heating to take advantage of the increasingly less ‘dirty’ grid. This does have implications for running costs, with electricity on average costing as much as 3.8 times that of gas. So why change things? The simple answer is net zero, and the need to be more sustainable. Because of the ubiquitous need for hot water, which can account for as much as 30% of a building’s daily energy demands, addressing how it is secured is one of the best ways of making active carbon savings today to begin delivering care home sustainability.
Deploying either heat pumps or solar thermal as a renewable to provision the initial preheat, is the most logical approach. Where problems and unnecessary costs can quickly arise is when existing gas-fired ‘top up’ water heating is replaced with like-for-like electric which can lead to gross system oversizing. Domestic hot water (DHW) systems that deliver care home sustainability should still be designed to accurately meet a business’ needs. At Adveco, our application design team has a thorough knowledge of residential care, understanding the peak hour and length of the peak, which are the starting point for determining demand and ensuring the hot water system is correctly sized.
This demands a bespoke approach as every facility is different. The number of rooms, facilities such as basins, showers, deeper baths and guest mobility, all impact on the sizing. The physical constraints of the property, from plant room and roof space to noise levels all impact technology choices. Adveco can advise on this sizing and provide accurate monitoring to ensure applications are fit for purpose and future proof. As a result, decisions to move to more sustainable operations are optimised and do not leave properties facing unwarranted capital or unexpected new operational costs.