Gas heating systems in a number of buildings owned by Warwick District Council are to be ripped out and replaced with more efficient electrical heat pumps.
Members of the council’s cabinet were told at their meeting yesterday (Thursday) that the work at Newbold Comyn Sports Pavilion, Kenilworth’s Jubilee House and Leamington’s Glasshouse Restaurant and Temperate House needed to be completed by the end of September with the majority of the money coming from central government coffers.
The total cost of the work will be £902,000 of which nearly £745,000 has been allocated to the council from the public sector decarbonisation fund.
The remainder will be funded from the council’s own climate action fund.
Contractors have already been appointed but councillors were told that although the new heating systems would cut the council’s carbon emissions by around eight per cent, there would be no short-term savings on heating bills.
A report drawn up ahead of the meeting explained: “In the short term, the proposed works are expected to increase the cost of heating within the three buildings by a total of approximately £25,000 per annum, with the vast majority of this falling on Jubilee House.
“Although the total energy demand of the new schemes is lower, electricity prices are currently significantly higher than gas prices. This results in an increased revenue cost.
“Whilst it is not possible to be certain about future energy costs, the Government energy strategy seeks to phase out gas heating systems and replace them with low carbon systems such as electric heat pumps.
In this context it would be reasonable to expect the cost gap between electricity and gas to narrow in the next few years and potentially for gas prices to be higher than electricity.
“It is therefore proposed that the increased revenue costs for 2021/22 and 2022/23 are not passed on to the tenants of these buildings and are covered by the climate action fund.”
The report added that if the price difference between gas and electric remained the same then some of the increased cost would have to be passed on to tenants from April 2023.
Cllr Ian Davison (Green, Leamington Brunswick) congratulated officers on securing such a large amount of government money but raised another issue.
He said: “It appears that very little insulation is being done at the same time so that’s not great. Part of our concern is when, I hope rather than if, good insulation is done - particularly at Jubilee House - the air-source heat pump may be bigger than required.
“Well done officers but if there can be a little bit of tweaking as the procurement proceeds to get some insulation in that would be fantastic.”