Karlovy Vary looks to save on heating bills by using its own thermal springs

Photo: Filip Jandourek

The west Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary is looking to save money on heating bills by using the town’s own natural resources – its hot thermal springs. The idea is for the town to gradually introduce this form of heating in all its public buildings.

Photo: Filip Jandourek
Karlovy Vary is famous for its curative hot springs. In its 650-year history the spa has treated the likes of Russian Tsar Peter the Great, Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven, Chopin and a range of international celebrities. The town’s thermal springs were found to be effective in treating a wide range of illnesses. Now the town’s local council is hoping that they will help treat an altogether different problem – the town’s excessive heating bills.

The hot thermal springs have a temperature of up to 70 degrees Celsius and although they are used for a variety of baths and medical procedures their use for heating purposes has been very limited. The town’s most famous spring is used to heat administrative buildings on the Karlovy Vary colonnade. According to the chief administrator Milan Trnka the spring heats a glass building where there is a lot of people traffic throughout the day, but even so in temperatures of – 10 degrees Celsius the spring water heats the building to around 10 degrees. If the thermal spring were used to heat a classic brick and mortar building it would heat it to a temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius.

The local council is planning to launch the project with the Elizabethan spa. The building is over 100 years old and in need of repair. It is not properly insulated and heating bills are excessive. A major reconstruction is in the pipeline and the introduction of thermal heating will be part of its facelift. Even given the building’s present state, thermal heating would save on average 60 thousand crowns a month. An investment into new heating technology for thermal spring water would amount to an estimated 1.5 million crowns and the investment return period would be four years at the most.

The new heating technology for thermal spring water needs to take into account that the pipes need to be effectively protected from deposits of calcium carbonate and cleaned more often than regular water pipes –approximately every six months. Even so, from a long-term perspective, the transition to thermal spring heating should pay off royally and save the town coffers millions of crowns on heating bills.