Given that heating and hot water accounts for around 62% of a typical domestic energy bill in a year, the heating system – and how it is controlled – can have a significant impact on fuel costs. Fitting better controls not only puts homeowners in charge of their energy consumption, but also their comfort levels. Increased awareness of the availability of grant aid and Energy Saving Credits, presents a significant business opportunity for installers, writes Graham Doyle, Product Manager, Heat Merchants. Here he pinpoints the critical factors influencing homeowner decision-making, and details for installers the key features and benefits to highlight.
Demand for Controls is Installer Opportunity
The Building Regulations specify that space and water heating systems should be effectively controlled. As a minimum, this requires automatic time and
temperature control of space heating and stored hot water. Provision should be made to control heat input on the basis of temperature within the heated space, e.g. by the use of room thermostats, thermostatic radiator valves, or other equivalent forms of sensing devices.
For larger dwellings, independent temperature control should generally be provided for separate zones that normally operate at different temperatures.
Thermostats should be located in a position representative of the temperature in the area being controlled and which is not unduly influenced by draughts,
direct sunlight or other factors which would directly affect performance. Depending on the design and layout of the dwelling, control on the basis of a single zone will generally be satisfactory for smaller dwellings. For larger dwellings, e.g. where floor area exceeds 100sq m, independent temperature control on the basis of two independent zones will generally be appropriate. In certain cases, additional zone control may be desirable.
Zoned heating controls
Zoned heating controls provide full control of different areas in the home, in addition to managing heating and hot water independently. This can dramatically reduce energy bills. TRVs provide an important extra control that allows the temperature to be set in individual rooms, preventing energy from being wasted on heating empty rooms. The concept is simple but highly effective.
Upgrading to a smart control can save homeowners up to €120 a year (Source Bord Gáis Energy) on heating bills with knock-on benefits to the environment. In addition to the substantial cost saving, smart controls offer exceptional flexibility and ensure the highest level of comfort. Although typically more expensive than installing basic load or weather compensators, a smart thermostat is likely to pay for itself through reduced heating bills faster than any
other technology covered by the regulations. Smart programmable TRVs are also available and can be fitted either as a stand-alone solution or as part of a zoned heating control system.
Another development relatively new to the domestic heating market is the concept of a central controller which works by linking all the elements of a home’s heating controls, including room sensors and electronic TRVs. Ideal for larger homes or apartments, this type of system provides wireless, programmable control of radiators throughout the property, either via the central controller or by using an app. The latest solutions mean that temperature can be controlled room-by-room and hour-by-hour, even when homeowners
SEAI Better Energy Homes grant
According to SEAI, upgrading heating controls can reduce heating energy usage by 20%. The SEAI heating controls upgrade grant value is €700 and all homeowners, including landlords whose homes were built and occupied before 2006, can apply. Homes built from 2006 onwards should have been constructed to the 2003 Building Regulations and should not need significant upgrades. This is defined as the date your electricity meter was installed.
Energy Saving Credits
Installers can claim Energy SavingCredits for the upgrade of heating system controls through an easy-to-use scheme administered by Heat Merchants. The value of credit, which is returned to the installer, ranges from €67 up to €276, depending on whether the controls are entry level, full multi-zone controls or smart controls. Energy Saving Credits are also available for full system upgrades which feature heating controls.