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HPM September 2017

72 H E AT I N G & C L IMAT E C O N T R O L S Tighter legislation: better heating control? Nigel Sanger, divisional director – technical support at JG Speedfit, explores how building regulations could be modified in order to unlock the full potential of smart heating control Introduced in 2014, Part L of the Building Regulations was developed to provide a framework which outlined clear standards for the energy performance of new and existing heating controls. As part of this, installers are legally required to make ‘reasonable provision’ to conserve power in buildings by ensuring that ‘effective controls’ are used. In practical terms, this means that even the most basic of heating controls can be specified to guarantee compliance. While we are in favour of any measure that enables greater energy efficiency, optimising energy and cost savings is simply too difficult with basic heating controls. Best practice More needs to be done to compel installers to use industry-leading energy controls and we feel a change of legislation is critical to this shift. By legislating for best practice in heating controls, this will maximise energy savings which is, after all, the purpose of legislation in the first place. Although heating control technology has come on in leaps and bounds, uptake is significantly lower than it could be. As a result, the controls used in most houses fall significantly short of the mark in terms of performance, yet these are considered perfectly acceptable from a legal standpoint. Unfortunately, this failure to set the bar that bit higher is holding back the heating control industry as a whole, and it is end users who are losing out. If we imagine a scenario where a single light switch is used to control the lighting of an entire house, most people would disagree with this approach as it wastes energy. While the flaws are plain to see, this is exactly what we are doing when we use the bare minimum in heating control technology. The question that inevitably follows is what should we be aiming for? Given that certain areas of a house are used more frequently than others, it makes sense that these are heated only and when required. The best way to achieve this is through the creation of specific heating zones, whereby certain areas of a property can be heated individually. Following on from the above example, it makes little sense to heat an entire house when, in reality, you only need to heat one Installers are legally required to make ’reasonable provision’ to conserve power bedroom. The best way to regulate the temperature of individual zones is by installing a thermostat in each one. This means that the temperature of one room is not Sophisticated heating controls can be programmed to come on to the desired temperature, at exactly the right moment influenced by another one, which may take longer or quicker to heat, depending on the size. The heating patterns of a house should reflect the habits and routines of its occupants, since a blanket approach to heating is both wasteful and expensive. Sophisticated heating controls such as Aura by JG Speedfit, play an important part in this process, and can be programmed to come on to the desired temperature, at exactly the right moment. For instance, a person might activate the heating to turn on at the precise time they arrive home each day. Not only does this help to maintain a more comfortable ambient temperature, it saves money compared with leaving the heating on all day. The alternative would be to arrive home to a cold house but, after all, who wants that? By using heating controls which allow for temperature and time control, energy efficiency can be maximised while creating a comfortable living space and minimising temperature fluctuations in the process. A boiler is only as good as its heating controls. Even with the most efficient boiler, specifying a basic heating control solution that does not provide an interlock facility leads to higher gas bills. Furthermore, keeping boilers in a constant cycle of on/off leads to wear and tear, reducing the overall life of the boiler and increasing the risk of unexpected failure. All of this is completely avoidable with the correct level of energy control. Limited impact Until we acknowledge the fact that more needs to be done to reduce domestic energy consumption, the impact of heating controls and more efficient boilers is somewhat limited. A good starting point would be to look at best practice in existing heating control technology and by tightening up legislation, this will oblige installers to recommend and install heating controls which provide some or all of the above functionality. Over time, this will lead to sizeable energy savings as well as a reduction in energy bills. Taking into account that heating accounts for 60% of the total energy expenditure of an average UK property, it is highly likely that any cost savings will more than justify any initial outlay. “More needs to be done to compel installers to use industry-leading energy controls and we feel a change of legislation www.hpmmag.com September 2017 is critical to this shift” “Although heating control technology has come on in leaps and bounds, uptake is significantly lower than it could be” enquiry number 141


HPM September 2017
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