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Savings in Maintenance Costs

The heated skirting board system, ThermaSkirt, is seeing wide spread success across education, residential and healthcare sectors as an alternative form of heating to conventional radiators and underfloor heating. The compact nature of skirting boards allow wall space to be freed up that would otherwise have been used for radiators, while it is easily installed in new builds or as retro-fit in refurbishments.

Studies carried out by the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden investigated the efficiency of radiant skirting boards compared with conventional radiators. The published report detailed the findings that showed radiant baseboards are capable of having a higher heat transfer ability of 50% more than panel radiators. The research also shows the compatibility of heated skirting boards and heat pumps to be more effective than using traditional radiator panels in a heat pump system.

Heated skirting boards benefit from two key characteristics, the first being their low fitted position causing a high transferred convective heat flux from the skirting board to the room air. Secondly, due to being installed at the base of the walls they are exposed to colder room air along their entire length which in turn increases the thermal gradient and its ability to transfer heat to the room. This results in the radient baseboards having a much higher mean heat transfer coefficient of 12.6 W/m2°C compared to the 8.4 W/m2°C of conventional panel radiators.

The significant increase in heating efficiency has seen ThermaSkirt benefit large scale residential buildings such as Cripps Court student halls at Cambridge University. Energy efficiency was key in the complete refurbishment of the accommodation and to heat many individual rooms in a large building it was decided Discrete Heat’s ThermaSkirt would provide a cost effective alternative to traditional heating systems.

The practicality of use is reflected in the ease with which ThermaSkirt is installed. After a days on-site training the contractors, Munro Building Services, were able to fit the product so efficiently that they could often complete up to 12 rooms a day with just a four man team.

Andy Maltby of Munro Building Services commented,

"ThermaSkirt was a quick and simple to install retrofit that enabled us to easily navigate around the contours of the rooms while freeing up wall space that would otherwise be taken up by radiators, allowing for maximum use of the walls within the facilities. Having installed successfully on time and on budget I would happily work with the ThermaSkirt product again."

ThermaSkirt’s evolution has seen EasyClean LST emerge, a heated skirting board system that has high security cover panel fixings that lie seamlessly with the wall and floor to allow easy disinfections of harmful germs and bacteria.

Healthcare facilities traditionally use radiators with low surface temperature covers to heat large rooms and corridors. Not only inefficient but the radiators pose a very real hazard in fighting the war against Hospital Acquired Infections such as C.Difficile and MRSA. The grills and slots of the radiator covers harbour the infectious germs and are spread with the convection current that radiators produce to circulate warm air.

The only solution to eliminating the dirt and infections that become trapped inside the radiators and covers is a deep clean that requires a team of cleaners to remove the LST covers and cleanse the insides using bleach or similar solutions. The removal of heavily secured radiator covers is not a quick or convenient process and while the covers are off they cause blockages to corridors and areas have to be closed off, preventing the functionality of the healthcare facilities.

Underfloor Heating has been used in new build healthcare facilities and is undoubtedly a more hygienic form of heating as there are no gaps for bacterial spores to hide and breed. Cleaned with a simple mop down, UFH also significantly reduces convection currents causing less threat of cross contamination. However the response to changes in weather and requirements is slow and often leads to over heating while failure of the heating system entails a lengthy and expensive repair process.

Given that radiant heat is a desirable and comfortable form of heating and that even heat distribution is a great way to ensure patients are not too hot and not too cold, the EasyClean LST combines these two factors while being responsive to variable weather and occupancy patterns. Being an ‘above ground’ wet system, retro fitting onto existing radiator circuits is straightforward, and with the resulting radiant heat being evenly distributed around the room the area is much more comfortable and controllable for the occupants.

The EasyClean LST, developed in cooperation with the NHS and Infection Control Team at Trafford General, has been designed to provide the inherently simple and responsive nature of an LST radiator, but with the health and safety, hygiene and comfort levels of a UFH system.

Combining a radiant heating panel into a skirting to floor trim provides a neat and convenient solution to the heating dilemma faced by Estates Managers and Infection Control personnel. The simple retro-fit installation onto an existing system with an inherent safe operating temperature and no trip, fall or ligature hazards has seen the EasyClean LST used in Healthcare, Mental Health and Assisted Living projects all over the UK.

By providing a water resistant seal to the wall, and an integrated seal to the coved flooring, the heating system can be simply mopped free of infection by the regular cleaning staff, at any time of night or day, with no significant re-training, special tools or deep clean procedures.

Operating at a low surface temperature and being naturally anti-ligature by design, it is perfectly safe for use in critical areas such as mental health, and being completely free of edges or exposed pipe work, much less of a trip or fall hazard than conventional LST radiators. The low operating temperature also makes it more energy efficient than conventional radiator systems that need to be run at 80°C in order to achieve sufficient heat output due to the safety covers causing restrictions, as well as being equally compatible with heat pumps and solar energy, an advantage given the increase in popularity for these alternatives.

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust has used EasyClean to solve the various heating problems presented during the £3 million redevelopment of the Queensway Health Centre in Hatfield.

After some research and recommendations from previous projects, both NHS and private, EasyClean LST was specified by project manager Andrew Philips from Ampersand Associates to be used as the heating method throughout the clinic.

Providing an easily cleaned, low maintenance heating system that significantly reduces risk of infection, EasyClean also entails lowers running costs.

After being installed on time and in budget, the client has expressed their interest in using the product again on other NHS refurbishment projects.

Graham Bell, head of capital projects for NHS Property Services concluded

"As part of the Queensway Health Clinic refurbishment we were very keen to ensure an energy efficient delivery of heat, whilst maintaining patient safety and to design out cleaning troubles, which are typically experienced with traditional radiators especially when they are fitted with an LST cover. Specifying EasyClean has achieved all of the above"

Martin Wadsworth

As survivor of BBC’s Dragons’ Den, Martin has built over 100 properties in the North West, including on a flood plain in Cheshire. He has over 12 patents in his name for industrial products, including 6 in plumbing in heating.