Traditionally, it's been difficult to heat lifeboat stations, because of the need for instant heat for cold and wet crews and casualties, and because their extreme locations often preclude access to gas for central heating.
In the past, electric convection heaters have been used to overcome these issues. However, there are now other forms of heating systems available that help us meet the sensitive balance between affordability, performance and being green.
Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) work by extracting ambient temperature from the earth through a series of coiled pipes buried metres beneath the ground or, in our case, beneath the beach. The pipes are coiled to give maximum surface area. Liquid within the pipes absorbs the earth's warmth. The liquid is turned into gas, which is then compressed and concentrated to temperatures of 100˚C or more. At this stage, the heat is ready to do its job in the lifeboat station.
Ground source heat pumps are particularly effective when combined with under-floor heating systems, providing a consistent source of heat 24/7.
'The under-floor heating has proved to be one of the best assets of the new station. In the Winter I often arrive at the station on my motorbike cold and wet, so when I leave my kit on the floor while in a hurry to get the boat launched, it's all dry on my return!'
Exmouth Coxswain Tim Mock
"We have five ground source heat pumps around the RNLI. Each one saves us about £3,000 a year in energy production and Renewable Heat Incentive. For every unit of energy put into the ground source heat pump, we get four times more heat than we would from an electric convection heater. Because of these significant savings, ground source heat pumps will be fitted as standard where possible in new lifeboat stations in the future."