A VILLAGE church has had the next step of its hi-tech renaissance completed after a low-energy heating system was installed.
Shirley Parish Church, which villagers are transforming into a community meeting place as well as a place of worship, has had two air-source heat pumps installed, which are designed to provide low-cost heat for its under-floor heating and high-output radiators beneath the pews.
The installation of the pumps, which sit among the graves outside the 14th-Century building, is part of a £250,000 project to turn the church into a building which can be used by the community all year round for meetings and other events.
John Fletcher, parochial church council treasurer, said: "Before we had a heat pump installed, we were only able to heat the church once a week, on a Sunday, for the six months of winter.
"Now we heat the building from 6am until 10pm everyday of the year and it makes for a much more comfortable space.
"We have even noticed a rise in numbers of people attending our congregations.
"Our aim is to give a moral message for the use of energy and to create a financially stable building that will serve us for many years to come."
As well as under-floor heating, the traditional stone-built church also has solar panels on parts of the roof and an insulated ceiling will complete the renovations.
The project, which has been ongoing for around five years, has obtained its £250,000 funding from sources including the Big Lottery Fund and Derbyshire Dales District Council, along with donations from the general public.
Andrew Hubble, systems engineer at Coefficient Renewable Heating Solutions, which carried out the installation, said: "Air source heat pumps were the ideal choice for Shirley Parish Church.
"The church can now be kept warm throughout the year and the church council can be assured that they are doing their bit for the environment by reducing the building's carbon footprint."
The church is now using a pair of 18kw heat pumps which are designed to provide all the heating for the entire building.
The pumps used in Shirley, which can operate at temperatures as low as -20C, are used in modern building design to meet sustainable energy requirements and also as a way to get around the problem of a lack of mains gas supply, which is the case for villagers in Shirley.