HeatingSave Controls Complex Heating Systems at Formby United Reformed Church

Formby United Reformed Church is located in the North West of England, in Formby, between Liverpool and Southport. Established back in 1881, the church’s premises have undergone multiple transformations over the years. The current Church Building was finished in 1938 and a suite of halls was added in 1972.

The church site comprises the main church building, used for religious services, and a large hall with 5 side-rooms, used by various church organisations and external activity groups. Around 50 worshippers attend church services every Sunday, while occupancy during the week varies significantly.

Formby URC uses two different heating systems. The main hall and side rooms are heated using a conventional gas-fired boiler and radiators, while the church sanctuary uses gas-powered fan heaters, accompanied by overhead infrared electric heaters.

Before HeatingSave, we used 7-day time clocks to control the heating systems. That was highly inefficient, because the halls needed to be heated for different groups, at different times. Some of the groups met fortnightly or monthly and the heating was on for a long periods when no-one was using the church, so we were wasting a lot of energy and money. To get around this, we had to manually adjust the clock all the time, which was not exactly an ideal situation for us.” Jim Crawford, Treasurer and Facilities Manager at the Formby United Reformed Church, told the HeatingSave reporter.

Most time clocks cannot vary the times throughout the week, wasting fuel at weekends, when offices, rooms or buildings are often unoccupied. Even a 7 day clock cannot cater for Bank Holidays, Holidays, shut downs or periods when the building is empty.

With HeatingSave you can set room temperatures to suit your specific requirements, giving you 100% control of the heating to meet your needs in summer, winter or throughout the year. You can even superimpose your pattern of building usage onto the heating/cooling patterns to perfectly match so that the energy usage is minimized. This normally means the building will be warm in the morning when people first arrive and then slightly cooler during the day when everyone is working.

We started looking for a better control system in April 2014” said Jim, “I did a fair bit of research online and came across the HeatingSave website. The technical information provided there seemed to indicate that the HeatingSave Building Energy Management System was just what we needed.” he told the HeatingSave reporter.

I have also read through your testimonials, especially the one provided by the Corstorphine St Ninian’s church in Scotland, and decided to contact you for a presentation. Your representatives, especially one of your directors, were very helpful in explaining the benefits of HeatingSave and customizing the system to meet our specific requirements.

Our Fabric Committee were not that easily convinced, but in the end they saw the clear advantages in terms of heating control and energy expenditure that the Building Energy Management System would be able to deliver. They were also keen to adopt a green energy policy.

We used legacy funds to finance the costs of the installation, and this is the avenue I strongly recommend for any church or place of worship interested in deploying HeatingSave as the pay-back period is too long for a normal business case, given that church energy costs are typically smaller than those of schools and businesses.”

The HeatingSave Building Energy Management System was installed in the second half of 2014 and the process was “relatively trouble free”, apart from a few minor issues related to the system’s setup, which rapidly sorted out with the help of the HeatingSave Help Desk and engineers.

The system consists of two web-enabled, Linux-based HeatingSave T3520-LN Building Energy Management System Controllers, accompanied by multiple temperature sensors. One of the two controllers includes Zig 2.4 Mhz wireless mesh network wireless technology (T3520-LNZ), which will enable the addition of Wireless Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) or other Zig 2.4 Mhz wireless mesh network devices (air quality sensors, PIRs, etc.).

Members of the Formby United Reformed Church Fabric Committee were trained on using HeatingSave. “Training was delivered by the engineer who installed the system. I and several others members of the committee took part in the training and the overall quality was very good.” Jim told the HeatingSave reporter.

I managed to gain a much deeper understanding of HeatingSave by using it on a regular basis. I then used the HeatingSave User Manual to create a set of instructions customized for our system. In this way, I can make sure that the other members of the community will be able to use it to its full extent even when I’m away”, Jim added.

Due to the complex nature of the heating system in the church, Jim worked with HeatingSave experts to customize the system in order to optimize the way the area is heated. He explained: “The system has been set up in such a way as to have a 1 degree differential between the set point assigned to the fan heaters and the one assigned to the infrared heaters.

The gas fan heaters are controlled using the HeatingSave algorithm – they will start at exactly the right time to ensure that the correct temperature is reached by the time the event is scheduled to start.

However, the infrared electric heaters will only start up to 10 minutes before the time of the service and top-up the temperature if required. During a very cold Sunday, they might start again several times during the planned event (service) as well, but during a normal Sunday they won’t start at all.

By using HeatingSave to control the system, we make sure that the more expensive infrared heaters only work while they are actually needed, thus reducing the overall energy consumption, while in the same time maintaining a very good level of comfort for all the people inside the church” he concluded.

HeatingSave is the worlds 1st off-the-shelf Building Energy Management System and Monitoring (BEMAM) system that replaces your existing heating time-clock or BMS system to take control of and better manage and reduce your energy use. HeatingSave manages heating boiler(s), pumps, valves, immersion heaters, heat pumps and air conditioning units.

Asked what he likes most about the HeatingSave system, Jim promptly replied: “The main reason why we have chosen to install HeatingSave is that it delivers a high degree of flexibility in terms of heating control. By having better control over the heating systems, we are not only saving money, we also prevent the waste of energy and contribute to saving the environment.”

Since the HeatingSave system was installed at the Formby United Reformed Church, Jim has contacted the Help Desk line on a number of occasions. He provided very positive feedback on their activity: “I have had a good experience dealing with the help-desk staff. They are very flexible and able to work around my schedule.”

While very happy with the level of control delivered by the current system, Jim is considering adding a number of HeatSave Wireless TRVs to the radiators located in the church’s side rooms and creating several additional heating zones. The aim is to “extend the level of control and further reduce unnecessary heating”.

The HeatSave TRV wirelessly “talks” via a Zig 2.4 Mhz wireless mesh network network to the Zig 2.4 Mhz wireless mesh network-enabled HeatingSave controller allowing one to retro-fit HeatingSave to their existing heating system, zoning each room or area and drastically cutting your heating costs.

Would Formby United Reformed Church recommend HeatingSave to other churches and places of worship? “I would recommend the HeatingSave Building Energy Management System to all other churches who have an energy-saving agenda or simply want to attain a superior level of control over their heating system.” Jim told the HeatingSave reporter.

Summing up his experience of HeatingSave, Jim said: “HeatingSave was the only company to offer a product delivering such an extensive level of functionality at a very affordable price.”


Customer Information

Formby United Reformed Church

111 Church Road



L37 3ND

Email: jim.crawford@talktalk.net

Web: http://www.formbyurc.co.uk/


  1. Andrew Thomas

    Hello Jim
    We are a lep located in Newcastle upon Tyne and have a manually controlled gas fired heating system. We are facing problems with manpower and also our commitment to making the premises more eco friendly. Can you give me an idea about the timescale for your installation, the approximate cost, the rough energy savings and whether you would recommend the technology and support?
    Best wishes
    Andrew Thomas
    Worship coordinator

    • HeatingSave

      Hi Andrew, thank you for your comment. Just to let you know that you would need to reach out to Jim via. his email address provided at the bottom of the case study to speak to him directly. I have passed your details and query over to our sales manager who is willing to get in touch and try to answer as many of your questions also.

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