Most church buildings present PCCs with a real challenge in heating them comfortably, affordably and responsibly. The DAC fully accepts the difficulties and dilemmas which parishes face in this - particularly given the massive variation in church design and the heating solutions in any given case. PCCs often face pressure to have a warm and welcoming building for Sunday worship but find difficulty in justifying the cost of heating their buildings at all for the rest of the week. In the long term, this approach can cause significant and expensive damage to the church fabric as set out in more detail below. The optimum solution is to aim for a stable and constant heat at all times. However, a lower level of constant background heating throughout the week, supplemented for worship times, can be a surprisingly cost-effective alternative. Such approaches can also make the church more comfortable for Sunday worship as they will, to an extent, mitigate against the cold air flows which can otherwise accrue from the walls acting as "cold storage radiators" from six days of an unheated church. As well as helping to safeguard the church fabric, such approaches will make the church building usable for worship and other activities throughout the week - an important element of mission. Significant variations in heat levels - and hence humidity - can have a devastating long-term effect on church fabric. Much of this damage may not be readily visible but, over time, can be substantial. For example:
- Roof timbers will be prone to moisture gathering where they meet stonework, creating an environment suitable for rot and pest activity
- The delicate internal workings of pipe organs can be ruined through cracking in woodwork and leatherwork.
- Condensation can corrode leadwork in windows and roofs.
Your church architect can advise you on heating issues. The DAC also has a specialist heating adviser who will be happy to provide you with advice and, where appropriate, make a personal visit to help you identify the best solution for your particular building - if you would like such a visit please contact the DAC Office. Detailed advice: The Diocesan Heating Adviser is available to provide advice on particular schemes - please contact the DAC Secretary in the first instance. Advice is also available from the Churchcare website - this includes a consideration of different heating systems. Further information is contained in the Church Buildings Council publication Heating Your Church by William Bordass and Colin Bemrose, available from the Church House Bookshop. Useful link: Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers This body maintains a register of consultants working in the heating industry.
Health and safety
If you are examining lagging, heating ducts and underfloor voids etc. do take care to watch out for signs of asbestos and seek professional guidance as appropriate.