Pictured is the project site at Brimsdown, Enfield.

As part of a £5.8 million regeneration project to enhance heating efficiency and slash bills by 50%, four 1960s tower blocks in North London have had their outdated electric underfloor heating systems replaced with next-generation radiators and renewable heat sources.

Located in Brimsdown, Enfield, the four identical residential tower blocks were refurbished through a joint initiative between the London Borough of Enfield, mechanical and electrical services provider Oakray Ltd, renewable energy specialist Ice Energy and energy efficiency consultancy AgilityEco. This award-winning Exeter Road Retrofit Project saw all four blocks, comprising 181 flats in total, undergo a series of extensive efficiency upgrades in a bid to tackle fuel poverty, raise heating standards and improve quality of life in the community.

In addition to installing external wall insulation and double glazing, the renovation work included a complete overhaul of each property’s old, inefficient electric underfloor heating (UFH) system. The buildings are not connected to the mains gas grid, so a ground source heat pump (GSHP) solution was installed, which uses natural energy stored underground as a renewable heat source. QRL Hi-lo Compact panel radiators were installed to work in conjunction with the GSHPs, as their super-efficient design makes them the ideal partner for renewables, which run at lower temperatures than traditional heat sources.

These off-grid tower blocks were built more than half a century ago, and very little had been done to them since, so they were suffering from extremely poor energy efficiency and thermal performance. The failing electric UFH systems were permanently set to run at 27°C, and this temperature could not be altered. This, combined with the buildings’ high levels of heat loss, meant residents were forced to use electric storage heaters, which led to higher than average energy bills in what is already an economically disadvantaged area.

Oakray Ltd installed the new internal GSHP units, along with around 900 QRL hi-lo compact radiators - an average of five in each flat. The team also fitted Design by QRL Crystal towel warmers in the properties’ bathrooms.

Steve Selves, senior contract manager at Oakray Ltd, explains:


“The GSHP solution at Exeter Road is the first of its kind in England, with a large communal ground loop laid 250 metres below ground level by the Ice Energy team. This extracts the natural solar energy stored in the parkland surrounding the tower blocks, and feeds it into individual GSHP units, which we sited inside each flat’s airing cupboard. This energy is then used to heat the properties’ water and radiators.”


Steve continues: “We worked closely with the team at QRL, adapting swiftly to changes in the specification. For example, towel warmers were not part of the original specification, and the decision to include them came quite late on in the project - but thanks to QRL’s broad product range, and the flexibility of our highly experienced engineers, we were able to swiftly provide just what was needed. The whole project took around five months from start to finish. The system is now providing efficient, reliable and fully adjustable heating and hot water - and saving residents hundreds of pounds in the process.”


As well as delivering estimated savings of £550 per household on annual heating and hot water bills (more than half of the £1,300+ that residents were previously paying), the Exeter Road Retrofit Project is set to reap average carbon savings of 33,000 tonnes over the lifetime of the new heating system.

Oakray Ltd is a specialist mechanical and electrical services contractor with over 35 years’ experience in providing commercial heating and ventilation systems, domestic heating systems, electrical installations and security systems. Committed to sustainability, with a dedicated renewable energy centre at its Enfield office, Oakray is also a leading provider of renewable energy solutions, from solar photovoltaic systems to ground-source heat pumps. Through its team of highly qualified engineers and technicians, Oakray offers a complete service, from design, installation and planned maintenance, through to round-the-clock emergency call out and repairs.

Oakray is a family owned business founded in 1979 and built on reputation. With a shared vision of excellence in mechanical and electrical service provision, its core values include high quality workmanship and pride in its work, along with a commitment to innovation and continuous improvement. Based in Enfield and covering London, Greater London and the Home Counties with a fleet of over 120 vehicles, Oakray’s team of over 90 qualified and directly employed mechanical and electrical engineers offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all mechanical and electrical requirements