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In this blog from ukactive Strategic Partner, Airius, Guy Bridges– the organisation’s managing director – explains how installing simple destratification fans can be a smart investment as the sector continues to save costs and prioritise energy efficiency in 2024.

Energy efficiency is a cornerstone in facility management, crucial for sustainable and cost-effective operations and due to the rise in energy costs over recent years, it has never been more important. This is especially relevant to the sports and leisure sector as we enter 2024, as the sector has already been significantly impacted by increasing costs, leading to reduced operating hours, limitations of services and even closures.

Fortunately, technologies are available to counteract the rise in energy prices, making energy bills more sustainable.

One example is destratification fan systems and these have gained popularity within sports and leisure facilities, offering average savings of 35% on heating and cooling bills, with some users experiencing savings exceeding 50%. Notably, the Carbon Trust recommends destratification fans as one of their top 3 carbon-saving measures.

How do destratification fan systems work?

In all buildings, heated air rises towards the ceiling, while cooled air falls to the floor, causing a significant temperature difference called thermal stratification. This requires heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to work harder to try and maintain an even temperature, resulting in high energy bills and environmental conditions that are rarely ideal.

Sports and leisure facilities, with their typical high ceilings and large open spaces, are particularly susceptible to thermal stratification.

These systems therefore balance temperatures between the floor and ceiling through continuous recirculation. This recycles heated or cooled air already supplied, circulating it evenly throughout the space, reducing the energy consumption and carbon footprint of any building. This is supported by research carried out on the leading destratification fan products by the Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA).

How do the fans compare to other types of energy efficient equipment?

While technologies like solar panels, air source heat pumps and advanced HVAC systems can provide notable savings, they often come with high upfront capital costs, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands. Additionally, their complex design and installation processes can cause significant disruption.

In contrast, installing a destratification fan system is a simple and cost-effective strategy to cut consumption, costs and carbon without many of the limitations associated with other types of energy-efficient systems. These fans can be installed simply and quickly in both new builds and retrofits, including listed buildings, without interrupting daily operations. Supply and installation costs are significantly lower than other types of equipment, providing an average payback within 8 – 18 months. Moreover, they work in conjunction with, not instead of other solutions, by optimising the performance and reducing the output required from other equipment, including energy-saving systems.

How has it worked in practice?

Numerous documented examples highlight the impact of destratification fans on energy use, costs and decarbonisation in the sports and leisure sector.

Freedom Leisure achieved a heating cost reduction of 41% at Malvern Leisure and an impressive 61% at Hailsham Leisure Centre after installing a destratification fan system.

The London Aquatic Centre benefited from an ROI of only 5 months after installing destratification fans, providing a saving of £150k over 14 months and reducing carbon emissions by 650 tonnes per year.

Three-time British long jump champion, JJ Jegede, also praises destratification fans as a cost-effective alternative to air conditioning in his independent gym, Leap Into Fitness.

As destratification fans become standard equipment within sports and leisure facilities they provide operators with a clear advantage in their energy efficiency strategies. With existing users already including Freedom Leisure, David Lloyd, Parkwood Leisure, Fitness First, GLL and many more, destratification fans are a standout choice for sports and leisure operators seeking efficient solutions to optimise operational expenses, decarbonisation and comfort.

To learn more about Airius click here.

Airius is a member of the ukactive Strategic Partner Group – find out more here.

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ukactive.