Motion: Councillor M. Baker
“That the Manager brings a report outlining the progress to date on the following
issues in Benamore Court:-
2. Billing for heating
3. Frequency of heating bills
4. Quality of water supply.”
The apartments in Benamore Court were constructed to a level of high energy
efficiency including increased levels of insulation and solar panels with an under-floor
district heating system. There have, however, been some complaints from residents
in relation to the operation of the heating system and the perceived temperatures of
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
tenants and this issue would appear to be resolved.
In relation to the perceived low temperatures in apartments, the Council engaged a
consultant to work with our Architect’s Department to resolve the issue. A series of
meetings took place with the residents and Tuath Housing on site to investigate the
A meeting was arranged in December with the resident most affected who was
advised to turn up the heating in advance of the meeting so that accurate readings
could be made between the thermostat and the room temperature. During the visit
it was found that the controller was being asked to achieve 18 degrees Celsius in
Comfort Mode and in set-back mode, which meant that it was being asked to achieve
18 degrees 24 hours a day. The thermostat was reading exactly 18.0 degC, and an
infra-red temperature sensor measured 18.2 degC on the adjacent wall, indicating
that the controller was in good working order. Each of the under floor heating circuits
were measuring a minimum 3 litres/minute flow, which is a good flow rate for under
floor heating loops, which are typically commissioned at 2 litres/minute.
Council officials, a Mechanical Consultant engaged by the Council and Tuath have put
in a huge effort to ensure the heating system in Benamore is as efficient as
reasonably possible. It is acknowledged that progress has been slow as each
element of the heating system is systematically investigated to establish if there is a
fault and that it is being operated correctly.
As a final measure, the agents for the system, Evinox, who are U.K. based, have
been requested to submit a time schedule and costing to have individual heat meters
in each apartment investigated.
Billing for heating
In relation to how the heating cost is split, each of the 19 apartments has 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 consumption is apportioned in accordance with units used
with Standing Rate, Carbon Tax, Capacity Charge and V.A.T. added. 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.
Frequency of heating bills
Bord Gais, the service provider, operate a billing system whereby 3 estimated
readings and 3 actual readings are recorded each year. Tuath request actual
readings from Evinox who provide readings remotely. The difficulty has been in
matching the dates of the remote readings with the timing of readings taken by Bord
Gais. Tuath have been requested to put in place internal procedures to regularise
the issuing of bills to ensure bills are issued on a two-monthly basis and this will be
monitored by the Council.
Quality of water supply
Water sample testing was carried out in 2013 and the results showed the water was
compliant with water quality standards.