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HPM April 2015

Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com INDUSTRYWATCH Making whole heating systems efficient Stewart Clements, technical director at Heating and Hot Water Council (HHIC), looks at what the heating industry can learn from the four-minute mile... On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier, running the distance in 3:59.4. As part of his training, he relentlessly visualised the achievement in order to create a sense of certainty in his mind and body. Barely a year after Bannister’s accomplishment, someone else ran a mile in under four minutes. Then some more runners did. Now, it’s almost routine. In 2005, UK domestic boilers began their own journey to the four-minute mile. Changes to building regulations made condensing boilers mandatory in any new UK installations. Since 2005, gas condensing boilers have continued to evolve into very lean machines, just as it is more commonplace today for someone to achieve the four-minute mile, gas condensing boilers are efficient as standard. And, while we can’t say they will not become more efficient in the future, as technology advances, it is unlikely their efficiencies will come down as significantly as they have done since 2005. The four-minute mile for the boiler industry has been achieved; now we need to look at how we can, therefore, make further efficiencies across the whole heating system. Even the smallest of change could have an impact; new radiators, hot water cylinders, the introduction of an alternative form of energy, i.e. renewables and an efficient service regime are all WWW.HPMMAG.COM ways at which marginal gains can be found. Add all of these efficiencies together then the three-minute boiler mile moves from the unthinkable to feasible, but to really make a difference you need to have control. HAVING CONTROL Seventy per cent of homeowners (11 million homes) can’t control the amount of heat they produce in the home, wasting on average £410 a year, based on estimated costs from the Control Your Home campaign launched in 2014 by BEAMA and supported by HHIC, aimed at reaching out to those 11 million homes. Installing the minimum level of heating controls - as recommended by building regulations - could reduce consumption by 40%. We wouldn’t expect to drive a car without gears or a speedometer, so why do we treat heating differently? HHIC is calling on the government to ensure that thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs), a programmable thermostat and timer are installed with every new heating system. We need to stop homes having to use windows to control the temperature of their houses. But it doesn’t stop there. HHIC is also calling on the government to go further and start to recognise and incentivise intuitive heating controls that go further and help to manage and regulate the amount of heat we use. Controls that adapt to the household and environment, controls that accommodate the needs of the household and allow the user to maximise efficiencies, be that through zone technology, room temperature sensors, Wi-Fi enabled TRVs, weather compensation, or self-learning systems. All of these intuitive products can make a real difference in reducing customer’s bills and energy use. LACK OF SUPPORT However, to date the government has failed to support this growing and exciting market. It is disappointing when you see support for initiatives such as smart meters, which offer customers the ability to see what energy they are using. If the government is able to support this, why not support smart or intuitive controls that actually regulate how much energy consumers are using. HHIC is asking that the next round of Green Deal Home Improvement fund money includes support for intuitive heating controls. We understand that currently these measures are not included in Energy Performance Certificates and RdSAP and so are excluded from the scheme. But, we do not think this is a good enough reason. If we exclude all new technology that could save energy and money, then we will never reach our carbon reduction goals. This government and the Department of Energy and Climate Change need to embrace modern technology and not be left behind supporting technology that is out-of-date. Industry needs a more flexible and responsive system to enable innovation to be supported. The current appendix Q SAP mechanism is far too expensive and the approval process takes far too long. EFFICIENCY LEVELS HHIC has also learnt that one of the reasons the government have not included heating controls and, in particular smart heating controls in the Green Deal, is due to its belief that because the controls can be adjusted by homeowners, they may not always operate at the most efficient level. We are disappointed at this excuse. This could be applied to every piece of technology in a home. We assume that consumers will use smart meters to regulate their behaviour and use less energy, so why do we assume homeowners will do the opposite when they get a smart heating control system. This also ignores the fact that most smart control systems actually build in functions that ensure energy efficiency, such as regulating the boiler’s flow and return temperature. Essentially, these are controls that the homeowner never needs to touch. HHIC will continue to press the government for heating policy that works and also the right incentives which can both enable installers to help their customers save money on their heating bills and also reduce the UK’s carbon emissions. I don’t know about you, but for me, a four-minute mile is probably not on the cards, five minutes? Maybe one day. That’s not the point. The point is this: It took a sense of extreme certainty for Roger Bannister to do what was considered un-doable. As the trade body for the heating and hot water industry, we are certain that real efficiencies can be made through ensuring UK households have at least the minimum level of heating controls - once we crash through that barrier, everything is possible. The four minute mile for the boiler industry has been achieved - now we need to look at how we can make further efficiencies across the whole system 14 APRIL 2015 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY


HPM April 2015
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