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Hot stuff

Jun 2017 Energy Efficiency, General, Heating | Comments Off on Hot stuff
Hot stuff
 

As consumer energy costs continue to rise, an increased number of homeowners are investigating alternative energy systems to provide for their needs. Robin Adderley, sales director at NIBE Energy Systems, discusses the options available

Renewable energy systems, including ground and air source heat pumps, solar PV, solar thermal and biomass are all becoming more common, not only in new-build homes and properties but also from owners seeking to specify a retrofit system either to replace out-dated or costly off grid systems, or as a commitment to becoming more sustainable.

Coupled with an increased interest in choosing renewable energy solutions for homes and commercial properties, there is also added interest ahead of the proposed increased Renewable Energy Incentive (RHI) payments.

Successful installations using heat pumps. for example, have been carried out across the country in a variety of settings from new-builds to small family homes seeking to decrease energy bills and become more sustainable. Heat pumps can deliver savings on conventional systems and – on electric panel heaters – savings of up to 80% on energy bills can be achieved, making this an attractive proposal for customers.

How do they work?

Ground source heat pumps operate by laying pipework, laterally or vertically in land adjacent to a property, that draws on the heat generated by the earth. They can provide heating and hot water for properties of varying size.

These systems are ideally suited to properties with adjacent land. However, for those who do not have that luxury, air source heat pumps can also provide a viable option. Able to operate at temperatures of -20°C, air source heat pumps are ideal for inclement UK weather conditions and provide tangible returns on investment. They work by absorbing heat from the outside air and, through a compressor, this is converted into heat and hot water for the property.

Once again, they can provide heating and hot water in a variety of applications – both commercial and domestic – and, because they both benefit from the RHI scheme, they can deliver a significant return on investment.

It has been proposed to increase these payments as a result of a working paper by the Government last year. This will potentially see the payments – which are paid to homeowners who have installed renewable heat systems for a period of seven years – deliver uplifts for ground source heat pumps from 19.64p/kWh to 19.86p/kWh while air source heat pumps enjoy the most significant financial benefit with changes from 7.63p/kWh to 10.18p/kWh, an uplift of 2.55p/kWh.

Renewable systems in smart homes

In addition to renewable heat systems generating energy, they can also engage with systems for monitoring energy consumption.

Such heat pump systems can engage with mechanical heat recovery ventilation systems, which extrude humid air from homes and manage systems to provide a home environment that is healthy and extremely energy efficient. They provide significant contributions to the ‘smart home’ approach. which is entirely complementary to smart meters and our own NIBE Uplink system.

NIBE Uplink is a smart control system that allows homeowners to monitor energy consumption, ascertain how the system is performing and can provide useful maintenance opportunities for diagnostic purposes should the system require engineer intervention. It can be controlled from the panel within the property but also remotely through the NIBE Uplink app, giving users independence and total control of the system.

In addition, excess energy generated by both ground source and air source heat pump systems can be stored in a separate buffer tank, which can then be drawn upon when energy demands of the property escalate. This ensures that all energy generated is utilised and maximum efficiencies are achieved.

When specifying or choosing each component for a smart energy system it is important to ensure it has the highest level of accreditation: check that the installers are MCS registered and have ERP certificates to ensure maximum performance is attained.

The future

As technological advancements continue in the smart home discipline it is expected that increasingly sophisticated home management applications will become more widely available. This will give homeowners greater control over their energy consumption and management. Such systems can effectively manage conventional heating systems.

When applied to renewable energy sources, carbon footprints and emissions can be reduced even further as home and commercial property owners control
energy consumption remotely with technology that can decide, for example, when the best time of day is to turn the fully loaded dishwasher on or allow you to zone control your heat.

This will be supported by the introduction of the smart grid to the UK, which will accept energy from renewable systems and balance the supply and demand more effectively. Combined with individual smart meters, demand for energy can be managed to support a more sustainable future encouraging consumers to choose from products such as heat pumps and energy storage devices to hybrid cars.

Increased awareness and engagement from consumers and industry professionals will help to promote the financial and environmental benefits of
using renewable energy sources to provide heating and hot water.

By working together, the targets outlined by the Government become more achievable. NIBE consolidates this by ensuring our products are future proofed. Our heat pumps and controls are smart grid-ready and are able to cope with whatever demand the energy market places on consumers, installers and manufacturers.

We recognise that renewable energy systems are driving change and present exciting opportunities for us all to become more energy efficient and responsible.