Question: Councillor M. Baker
To ask the Manager to report on the heating system in Benamore Apartments
including how well it functions and how the cost is split between tenants?
Benamore Apartments were constructed as a model for energy efficiency, and incorporate many sustainable features throughout the scheme. Not only is the development finished to a very high standard, some of the ‘eco-friendly’ design innovations, including increased levels of insulation and solar panels, result in lower fuel bills for residents. The apartments in Benamore Court have a district heating system with under-floor heating.
In Benamore Square a number of the units have solar panels fitted and some apartments have achieved a Building Energy Rating of ‘A’. These were the first Local Authority units to achieve this rating.
Of the 19 apartments in Benamore Court representations have been received from 2 residents in relation to the functioning of the heating system. One of these complaints related to a section of the kitchen not heating up properly and the cause was determined as an airlock in a particular section and this has been rectified. The other complaint relates to the perceived temperature in the dwelling.
In terms of the operation of under-floor heating, it often takes time for persons unfamiliar with this type of system to get used to how best to operate it in practice. The heat is not felt instantaneously and it takes time to heat up the floor slab and again for it to cool down. It is slower than standard central heating to adjust but overall it gives a greater level of comfort across a wider area of the dwelling (unlike radiators). For this reason it is particularly suitable for dwellings with long periods of occupancy where there is a constant and regular demand for heat. It works best when set at a regular temperature over a longer period than to intermittent usage and frequent alterations to the operating times and temperature settings. It is also advisable not to obstruct the floor heating with the addition of heavy rugs.
Our managing agent, Tuath Housing, and their Mechanical and Electrical engineers have made visits to tenants as and when requested by them to record the level of heating in the apartments and to assist in system operation. Guidelines which explain in non-technical terms have been drawn up by Tuath Housing and given to
In relation to how the heating cost is split, each of the 19 apartments have an individual Control Unit which provides a meter reading in their property. The meter records the number of units consumed by each household for their heating/hot water consumption. The total number of units consumed by the 19 apartments is added to the standing charge and VAT. A unit cost is derived by dividing this total by the readings on the individual Control Units. This unit cost is then applied to each individual’s unit consumption for that period. This is the fairest and most transparent method of charging tenants for their consumption as each tenant only pays for the units they have consumed.
Each tenant contributes €12.50 per week towards their heating/hot water costs as part of their rent. However, if a tenant uses less than this amount for a billing period they receive a refund. Conversely, if they use more than their contribution, they are issued with a bill for the difference.
As outlined above, Benamore Court is an energy efficient building and the average cost for tenants for heating/hot water consumption averaged €8.60 per week for the billing period 6/7/12 to 23/1/13 which was well within the weekly contribution and resulted in the majority of tenants receiving a refund. Tenants, therefore, should use the system as directed without the fear of exorbitant bills.