Project name: The Aboyne and Mid-Deeside Community Shed
Air source heat pumps
Aboyne, Aberdeenshire
CARES funding:
£7,922 (capital)
Date installed/operational:
November/December 2020


Aboyne and District Men’s Shed, a registered charity, was formed in June 2016 to further the aims of the Men’s Sheds Association. However, it soon became evident that a new building could be of greater benefit to the wider community.

Aboyne and District Men’s Shed set up a steering group to fund and build Aboyne and Mid-Deeside Community Shed, a new building which could be used by the whole community.

The lower floor of the new building will be fitted out as a comprehensive workshop for woodwork, metal work and other crafting activities. The upper floor will be used for other activities such as arts and crafts, floor exercise and social activities and will also have a demonstration kitchen and office/IT space.

The building will be run on a ‘village hall’ principle, managed by a committee comprised of user group representatives. An interim committee is currently operational and preparing to open in early 2021.

The Shed will be open to all adults aged 18 and over, regardless of gender or background. Membership and access will be free. Children and young people aged under 18 who are accompanied by a responsible adult will be welcome visitors.

The charity’s main aim is to improve social cohesion and combat rural isolation by providing a place for local people to meet, make things and socialise. The main beneficiaries are anticipated to be people with ‘time on their hands’ through, retirement, ill health, disability or unemployment. It will also benefit community members who need a village central space to engage in practical, social, or community-based activities at a reasonable cost.

The charity’s trustees anticipate that the health and local economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic will increase demand for the facility above that previously predicted.

Project aims and objectives

The project aimed to install a primary space heating system into a new, purpose-designed two storey community building.

Of the 360m2 total floor area, the building’s ground floor is an open workshop with toilet, while the upper floor is a multi-use area divided into four rooms – an arts and craft studio, social area, training kitchen and an office.

Installing a renewable heating system is part of the trust’s six-part sustainability plan to minimise the building’s carbon footprint. In addition, the building has a 12kW solar photovoltaic (PV) array on its roof and excellent insulation.

The project aimed to install a renewable heating system that was:

  • sustainable
  • economic and easy to operate
  • adaptable to the differing heating demands of individual rooms
  • low in capital cost to install and maintain
  • able to monitor and record power consumption accurately.

A heating design consideration report recommended air source heat pumps as the best option to heat both the ground and first floors.

Aboyne and District Men’s Shed applied to CARES for capital funding of 60% of the cost of installation.

air source heat pumps

Outcomes and achievements

The Men’s Shed installed four air source heat pumps to provide space heating to the building, specifically the four rooms that will be available to book by user groups.

The heating units can be operated remotely via an app and provide virtually instant heat which can be precisely controlled. A diagnostics package also allows users to monitor the energy consumption across all four air source heat pump systems.

These measures mean that the building’s energy consumption will be lower when compared to a building with a traditional heating system, such as a gas boiler.

Lessons learned

Phil Lay, Treasurer of Aboyne and District Men’s Shed, said:

“Installing the heat pumps was straight forward and was carried out by a local installer with many years of experience of designing and installing renewable systems. Although subject to confirmation, the air source heat pump system was incorporated into the initial building design and approved by planning.

“Our main advice to others looking to install a similar system would be to use an experienced installer and select a quality proven product. We also recommend that you set out your carbon emission policy at the project planning stage.”

For more information, visit the Aboyne Men’s Shed website.

Update at June 2022

Since installing the air source heat pumps at the end of 2020, the charity’s trustees are pleased to report that their new heating system is working well.

Mike Brooks, chairperson, said “I am delighted to say that [the air source heat pump system] is all in and has been working right through the winter, providing us with a lovely warm building at a very reasonable energy cost.”

In addition to the heat pumps, the trustees decided to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) array on the roof to generate electricity. The 12kW solar PV array was installed with financial support from Vattenfall’s Unlock Our Future Fund.

Mike says “One of our design aims when planning the shed was to make it as inexpensive to run as possible. Being able to generate our own electricity became an important part of this.”

Mike explains: “We thought the general rule imposed by electricity companies regarding solar PV was that properties were restricted to installing 4kW, and this is what we thought we’d be allowed. However, when we mentioned to SSE that we intended to install solar PV, they told us that we could install 12kW because our building had a three-phase supply.

“Now we knew that we could install up to 12kW, we looked at our roof space. We had enough room for the panels required, but this meant that there was no longer room to install solar thermal panels for our hot water. We thought about this and realised that the shed wouldn’t use much hot water – and did we really need to store it in a tank, only to lose much of the heat during the times we weren’t using it?

“We decided to install an instant hot water system for each of the three wet areas (kitchen, upstairs toilets, and the workshop and downstairs toilet) instead. Since most of the use will be during the day, the solar PV will provide at least some of the electricity for a heater in use. There was now no need to install a hot water tank or solar thermal panels, and the whole south-facing roof is now covered with solar PV panels.”

Since installing their heat pumps and solar panels, other Men’s Shed Association members have contacted the trustees of Aboyne Men’s Shed to find out more about their experience of installing renewables.