Housing chiefs are looking at installing a ground-breaking heating system at flats for 80 retired people in Patcham.
The scheme involves drilling 40 boreholes and fitting a “ground source heat pump” to replace the current old, worn-out and expensive set of electric storage heaters.
The new pump would work by converting underground heat into electricity while the current system was said to be no longer fit for purpose and in need of replacement.
If approved, the £600,000 scheme at Elwyn Jones Court, just off London Road, is expected cut heating and hot water bills for tenants as well as reducing carbon emissions.
In addition to generating heat, the scheme is expected to generate cash for Brighton and Hove City Council – from the government’s “Renewable Heat Incentive”.
The Renewable Heat Incentive offers payments to individuals and organisations for seven years after they install renewable energy systems.
The Brighton scheme would be the first time that the council had fitted a ground source heat pump in flats and officials estimate that it should pay for itself within eight years.
The council said that Elwyn Jones Court, home to more than 80 over-55s in individual flats, had “night storage heaters which are old, inefficient and expensive to run”.
“Replacing them with a new low-carbon heating and hot water system,” the council said, “is expected to cut energy bills for residents and the council, reduce emissions and generate income.
“The new system would involve drilling boreholes in the grounds of the scheme to extract heat from underground.
“Each flat would have its own control system for heating and hot water – and the pump would also supply communal areas at Elwyn Jones Court.”
The council is consulting people living in the flats about the “innovative” scheme and said that they have welcomed the idea of an upgrade to their existing system.
Labour councillor Gill Williams, who chairs the council’s Housing Committee, said that it was “an exciting proposal”, adding: “Residents at Elwyn Jones Court will benefit from a more efficient heating and hot water system – and the prospect of lower energy bills – and there will be wider benefits of a significant reduction in carbon emissions.”
Green councillor Siriol Hugh-Jones, who speaks for the opposition on housing sustainability, said: “As a council, we are committed to becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2030 and this proposal is an example of the practical steps we are taking to help us achieve this.”
A report to the Housing Committee said that the project is estimated to cost £590,000 and should generate nearly £35,000 a year for the council.
It said that electricity bills for tenants and the council should be about £41,000 cheaper in total – with tenants estimated to save hundreds of pounds.
A decision on whether to push ahead with the scheme is expected to be made by the Housing Committee at Hove Town Hall next Wednesday (15 January). The committee is scheduled to meet at 4pm.