14 HPM 0813

HPM August 2013

COVERPROMOTION Pre-insulated pipe: minimises losses, ma 14 Over the past few years renewable heating technologies have come to the fore as methods of improving energy emissions and reducing bills. However, these technologies should not be considered in isolation; they form part continue to underestimate the importance of properly insulated pipework in connecting the system together. Neil Uponor UK, highlights what you can do to get the most out of a heating system... Uponor’s pre-insulated pipe offers end-users safe, reliable and robust solutions for heating, cooling and tap water supply With the cost of fossil fuels seemingly ever increasing, the rise of renewable technologies, supported by government incentive schemes such as the Green Deal and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), is providing homeowners and businesses with an opportunity to cut heating bills and gain financial reward. However, in order for energy savings to be maximised, the full potential of the renewable heat source can only be realised if it is installed correctly and used in conjunction with high-quality distribution pipework. RENEWABLES ON THE RISE – BUT IS YOUR PIPING FIT FOR PURPOSE? Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are one of the most simple “fit and forget” solutions for renewable heat. Applied to a home or building with the right levels of insulation, they are a highly effective way of accessing free heat and transferring it to a property. When installed and used properly, a GSHP is the perfect accompaniment to a variety of internal heating systems, including traditional manifold and water-based underfloor heating systems. However, in the majority of cases, the heat has to travel a significant distance from the heat pump itself to the property; the further it has to travel, the more opportunity there is for heat to escape. If that happens, clearly the system will become much less efficient. If the heat pump is supplying more than one property, which is not uncommon, then the heat has even more of a chance of escaping. GSHPs aren’t the only renewable technology that requires a robust local heat distribution network to work effectively. The use of biomass as a renewable energy source has increased dramatically in the last few years, especially as an energy efficient, low-carbon way of supplying heat to a site with multiple properties. Like heat pumps, biomass boilers and heating systems are covered by the commercial, public sector and non-profit RHI and will also be covered under the domestic RHI when it comes into place in 2014. As such, installation figures can only be expected to increase. Only usable heat qualifies for RHI payments. Heat losses from poorly manufactured local heat distribution pipework are not eligible for payments, so in the worst cases the use of such products has the potential to nullify the financial benefits of using a renewable heating system. AVOID THE COST OF CUTTING CORNERS While renewable heating technologies are becoming an increasingly common sight within both the commercial and the domestic markets, so too are instances of ‘cutting corners’ to keep installation costs down. Given the tough economic climate, it’s understandable that some installers and contractors may be tempted to compromise on quality in order to win jobs. Pre-insulated pipework is one area which cannot, and must not, be compromised. Pre-insulated pipe forms the ‘arteries’ of renewable heating systems and is just as important for improving energy efficiency and reducing bills as the specification of the particular heat pump or biomass boiler. Cheap or homemade insulated pipe used on these types of installations offers nowhere near the same level of energy saving properties as a factory-made pre-insulated pipe. It will not possess the quality or thickness of insulation required for heat retention or the ability to prevent serious moisture ingress from ground water. Ultimately, it will not be fit-for-purpose to deliver a service life of 25 years. FINDING THE PERFECT PIPE To ensure the system is offering the best value both in terms of cost and energy efficiency, the total cost of a pre-insulated pipe, for example, its ‘whole life cost’ must be taken into account. The fact is, spending a little bit more on a proper pre-insulated pipe is the only way to achieve the required savings further down the line. These savings will of course far outweigh those made by using ‘DIY’ insulated pipe in the first place. There are a number of key characteristics to look for when choosing pre-insulated pipe. The first is a flexible core pipe, ideally made of cross-liked polyethylene, which is immune to corrosion and encrustation. This should be surrounded by closed-cell multi layer insulation foam, offering flexibility and aging resistance while minimising heat losses from the core pipe. Finally, an outer jacket, ideally made of impact AUGUST 2013 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY Uponor’s Neil Young


HPM August 2013
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