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A focus on efficiency

Jul 2018 Energy Efficiency, Heating, Ventilation | Comments Off on A focus on efficiency
A focus on efficiency

With increasingly stringent Building Regulations, greater legislation and growing demand from consumers, energy efficiency remains high on the agenda for electrical contractors. Christian Hadley, head of product marketing for Glen Dimplex Heating and Ventilation, which includes the Dimplex, Xpelair and Redring, explores product innovations that are helping contractors to deliver efficiencies

When the draft 18th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations was first published for public comment last summer, the industry was quick to notice the addition of ‘Part 8 – Energy Efficiency’. Indicative of the sector’s evolving requirements, the IET was proposing to place the onus on contractors to specify energy efficient solutions, supporting the Government’s green agenda.

By July, when the update was officially published, this section was omitted, but energy efficiency was not forgotten and it remains a significant step forward within the electrical industry. For the first time, the 18th Edition offers recommendations (within Appendix 17) for the design and implementation of electrical installations that optimise the overall efficient use of electricity, including installations having local production and storage of energy.

Hitting targets

Of course, this is far from the only driver for energy efficiency in the electrical industry. While the EU remains on track to meet its targets for 2020 of a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels), 20% of energy from renewables and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, there remains a desire to create a more comfortable, efficient and lower carbon future for home owners and building users.

In the UK, we have a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, set in the Climate Change Act 2008. There have been a number of policies put in place to support that target, particularly in Scotland where, having met the initial 2020 target six years early, Holyrood has set an ambitious target of its own to cut emissions by 66% within 15 years.

This includes a totally carbon-free electricity sector based entirely on renewable energy sources by 2032, when Scotland’s last nuclear power station will close. The intent is that four out of five of Scotland’s two million homes will be heated using low-carbon technologies by 2032.

Taking the lead

Clearly electrical contractors have a big role to play in this, and manufacturers of heating and ventilation appliances have responded with continued investment in energy efficient innovations that can support the overall objective.

And with energy efficiency inevitably comes lower running costs. As fuel poverty continues to blight households across Scotland and Northern Ireland, even with support from schemes like the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS), any improvements in efficiency can deliver mutual benefits for all – and there are opportunities available for those contractors willing to take the lead.

Let’s look at three specific areas in which manufacturers continue to innovate to drive efficiency in both domestic and non-domestic buildings: space heating, water heating and ventilation.

Space heating solutions

Around 13% of all households in Scotland are electrically heated, according to Ofgem, and the Government has stated its intention to support the decarbonisation of electricity, investing in renewable energy production through wind, solar and tidal, as well as heat networks that can take advantage of low carbon electricity.

These commitments, together with the continued development of modern electric heating appliances, have opened significant installation and replacement opportunities for contractors.

One of the biggest opportunities is with the replacement of conventional storage heating, especially with innovative off-peak high heat retention heaters such as Dimplex Quantum, which offer greater control of energy as it is needed, through the day and night.

This shift has been supported by the introduction of Lot 20 of the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive in January 2018, which sets a minimum efficiency standard for all ‘fixed’ local heaters including electric heating appliances.

Rethinking water heating

Another key area of innovation, water heating has come to the fore particularly in new homes, which are often smaller and inevitably better insulated. This means there is less space heating demand and so electric hot water appliances represent an increasingly dominant portion of energy used in new build homes.

This trend, coupled with increasingly stringent regulations on energy efficiency, has forced the industry to look beyond solely space heating when aiming to improve the SAP rating of a property, taking advantage of innovations such as Dimplex’s Edel hot water heat pump cylinder, which can tap into low carbon renewable electricity.

There has also been greater demand in recent years for instant hot water appliances such as the Redring Reditap – offering instant boiling water on demand and energy saving potential, particularly in offices where a kettle would otherwise be used frequently.

Innovations in ventilation

Finally, this trend towards more hermetically sealed homes, together with growing awareness of indoor air quality and the health risks associated with poor air quality, has also placed a greater importance on ventilation in both domestic and commercial buildings.

The modern ventilation market offers a range of future-proof solutions for contractors, with solutions such as MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) giving homeowners and commercial building managers a low carbon solution to improving indoor comfort without compromising on running costs.

Contractors can turn to solutions such asthe Xpelair Natural Air 180, a whole house MVHR system that continuously extracts stale air and moisture from wet rooms while resupplying habitable rooms with filtered air, transferring heat from the internal air during the process.

With the use of ultra-fine G3 filters, the result is significantly improved indoor air quality and the elimination of condensation and odours – while saving on energy. All with a host of performance features and installation benefits on the latest systems – not to mention continued changes in energy policy to drive the quality of indoor air.

Now is the time for contractors to make sure they are switched on to the benefits of MVHR, electric space and water heating appliances.