As autumn chill descends upon Edinburgh, two churches have joined forces with scientists, engineers and computer programmers in order to bring warmth to cold buildings across the city.
HeatHack is a computing and electronics club formed by the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church and Christ Church Morningside (Scottish Episcopal Church). The club will set up temperature and humidity monitoring in buildings, time lapse photography (for gas meters and boilers), public displays and phone apps that help communities understand their buildings – plus some special engineering challenges like how to find out whether a pump is operating correctly and where the heat actually goes.
Many community buildings in Edinburgh are old and expensive to heat – and costly to the environment – but this new ‘hacker-space’ is being formed to understand how to make the best use of the energy that is put in.
As well as special events, HeatHack will meet regularly on Tuesday evenings starting in October. They welcome anyone with an interest in electronics, computer programming, or an interest in how these old buildings are maintained and kept at their best for their use by the community.
Jean Carletta, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, is the originator of the ‘heat hack’ concept and has been actively involved in improving comfort and reducing energy use at Christ Church Morningside. She says, “Victorian buildings are fascinating, but complicated. The internet makes it possible to monitor heating systems and check their performance remotely. HeatHack will speed up improvements by bringing together property owners, users, students, and volunteers to share data and understand their heating problems.”
Lou Davis, pioneer minister at City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, “I’m very excited about the possibilities for HeatHack. Not only will we be finding solutions to people’s problems, but we’ll also be learning lots and having a great deal of fun along the way. I’m really keen to get a soldering iron in my hands and make something!”
HeatHack launches officially on Sunday 28 September at 12.30pm at the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church at 25 Nicolson Square, when people can see the technology in action.