10 points to consider when heating church buildings

Due to the design and age of many churches, most buildings will leak heat. This could be from walls, windows, the roof or open doors.

The following points will help you make the most of what your boiler can achieve.

  1. Churches generally will not heat up as quickly as a house. Even the most efficient boiler will take 3-4 hours to raise the temperature by 10 degrees. If you use your building regularly, consider keeping your building at a background heat of 12 degrees, or 5 degrees if the building is only used occasionally. By controlling the lower temperature you will have a better chance of getting the building warm when you need it.
  2. Think about what temperature your building is likely to be before you start heating it for the next event. Most boilers will raise the temperature of a building by between 0.3 - 3 degrees an hour. By experimenting with this calculation and working backwards from your next event, you should be able to work out when to put the heating on to gain the most benefit when you need it.
  3. Some buildings will never get to the temperature that you would ideally like, due to the age of the church and lack of insolation. If your experience is that you can’t get your building ‘warm enough’ you might be better reducing the temperature that you are aiming for, and therefore saving money on fuel. Reducing the temperature by a couple of degrees may not feel any colder if your building seems to get to a certain temperature, and stays there.
  4. Remember the temperature you would have at home is not necessarily the temperature that people expect at church. Some congregations dress more warmly for church, or if they do take their coat off, they put it on the back of the chair so still gain extra warmth for it. 18 degrees is usually a comfortable temperature to aim for (see also the information in point 6).
  5. Make sure that your radiators and pipes are not obstructed by anything. Remove shelves over radiators, and make sure that pew kneelers are not over pipes, restricting the heat.
  6. People create warmth. Studies show that congregations can raise the temperature of a room by 2 degrees. Encourage people to sit closer to each other. Think about whether you could reserve the back rows of pews so that people don’t spread out so much. Remove back rows of chairs, or the chairs nearest the aisles. Think about whether a smaller service could be held on one side of the church rather than in the whole worship space.
  7. Think about the ‘warmth of your welcome’. Having church doors open to be welcoming is lovely, but not always practical as so much heat is lost through open doors. If your church doors have glass panels, position someone to welcome on the inside.  If your doors are solid with no visibility, consider whether welcomer’s could stand in the porch and open the doors behind them as people arrive.
  8. Programmable Timers. It is often best if a church agree in advance when heating is needed. This can be programmed into a timer, instructions for altering written down (manually not in a suppliers manual). The timer will then not need altering. Having a nominated person to make changes may help avoid other people trying to be helpful, who perhaps don’t understand the length of time it takes to heat a building. You want to avoid your building only getting to your ideal temperature after you have all left. NB:  It is a good idea to check your time clock periodically. If you have had a power cut, your clock may be wrong and your heating will not work when you expect it to.
    It is also advisable to regularly check any thermostatic controls on radiators to ensure that they have not been turned up or down by people with individual tastes.
  9. Intelligent Thermostatic Controllers. These are great in a smaller, well insulated spaces. Systems can now be brought that can be monitored remotely from a distance, and the temperature adjusted.  However most churches are not well insulated so bear in mind that the expense of a clever system may be a false investment in a church environment.
  10. To avoid damp in your building, you need to provide a mix of warmth and ventilation.  People and heating systems create condensation, so it is important to open windows and doors for short periods of time, whenever possible.

Finally, you may feel that your boiler is inefficient and needs changing. However before commissioning a new one, think about the cost of the replacement versus the extra you may be paying because your boiler doesn’t work quite as you would like it to. It may be better value, keeping what you have and paying for a few extra hours to warm the building a week, than paying for a new system that won’t get used for some parts of the year.

Page last updated: Friday 19th February 2021 12:37 PM
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