Technology: air source heat pump

Location: Roy Bridge, near Spean Bridge, Highland

CARES funding: £10,890 capital grant

Date installed/operational: June 2022


The Roy Bridge School House adjoins Roy Bridge Primary School in Roy Bridge, a small community east of Spean Bridge in the Highlands. The schoolhouse building is leased by Highland Council and is run by local volunteers as a community facility providing a vital space for local youth groups, lunch clubs, meetings and workshops.

The building was fully refurbished in 2004; this included installing a ground source heat pump system. However, the ground source heat pump had since broken and was beyond repair. This meant that the community had to resort to using plug-in electric heaters to warm the building, which are inefficient and costly to run. Without a proper functioning heating system, the building was unable to be used in the winter months.

Project aims and objectives

A new heating system would ensure that the building was well heated and would meet the required standards for public use, meaning that it could once again be used by the community all year round.

The project aimed to install a new air source heat pump system which could be connected to the building’s existing underfloor heating system. No building warrants or other permissions would be required, nor would any changes be required to the existing electricity supply. The landlord had already given consent.

It was also hoped that by installing a new renewable heating system, it would demonstrate to the local community how renewable heat and energy can be used effectively and might inspire others to save energy and carbon too.

In 2021, the management committee applied for funding from the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). It received a capital grant of £10,890 to install a new air source heat pump system.

Outcomes and achievements

A new air source heat pump system was installed in June 2022. The installation took one week to complete and was a simple process.

Now that the building’s heating has been improved it is once again available for use and hire by the local community.

Catherine Mackinnon, secretary of the Roy Bridge School House Project, said “CARES funding was crucial to enabling the project to go ahead and ensuring that the community building will continue to be of benefit to the community. CARES staff were extremely helpful in enabling us to source sufficient funding to enable our project to go ahead. We are delighted with the outcome.”

Catherine added: “The building is now being used by the local history society on a regular basis and we have just received funding from the Robertson Trust to run a weekly lunch club from January 2023. This will be for the elderly, a warm space, and catering will be partly done by young adults with additional support needs. This wouldn’t have been possible if the new heating hadn’t been installed so we remain very appreciative of all the support we received.”

Lessons learned

Catherine says that: “We learned that persistence pays off and that by working closely with staff a solution can be found to most challenges.”

Published February 2023.