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ECOBuilder-Specifiers Journal spring2018


FEATURE ARTICLE: THE HEATING AND HOT WATER INDUSTRY COUNCIL Changes to legislation for new boiler installations! The UK boiler market is the biggest and most valuable in the world, but still, there are opportunities to boost productivity. In the last few years, new and better technology has come forward and so Government have agreed that the time is right to raise standards for household heating, and expectations for installers. Stewart Clements, Director, HHIC From April 2018, when a gas combination boiler is installed, an additional energy efficiency measure will be required. This requirement is flexible to allow a suitable choice to be made that reflects the diverse nature of the housing stock, and the needs of the household. The energy saving technologies that can be used to comply are; • Flue gas heat recovery systems • Weather Compensation • Load Compensation • Smart controls featuring automation and optimisation functions This new piece of policy is called Boiler Plus, and was announced on 12 th October 2017 by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The policy, which will form part of Building Regulations will also require a new minimum performance standard for domestic gas boilers in English homes to be set at 92% ErP. The ErP Directive aims to phase out poorly performing products across a range of product groups to reduce carbon emissions across Europe, with the ultimate goal of achieving the EU’s 2020 targets. Why is this policy being introduced? Given the extent to which domestic heating contributes to emissions, the new standards will help reduce carbon emissions and encourage consumers to prioritise the thermal comfort and energy efficiency of their heating. Today 99% of all new boilers sold are condensing and there are over 10 million installed in UK homes. However since 2005, government and the heating industry have been searching for ways to further improve the efficiency of domestic heating- the ‘condensing boiler’ equivalent. To date there have not been any suitable products that could be mandated to save energy. The problem is often unit cost or complexity of installation. In some circumstances product development has not materialised as expected. The result is that over ten years after the mandating of condensing boilers, government has not been able to introduce further legislation to increase the efficiency of heating installations. Industry and indeed the government knew that further savings were possible, and so using the condensing boiler policy as a precedent, the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council, HHIC, identified further improvements that can be made to the efficiency of residential heating systems by mandating Boiler Plus systems. This idea was initiated with constructive input from a number of HHIC members in our offices two years ago, worked on with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), consulted 16 SPECIFIERS JOURNAL - SPRING 2018

upon with industry and now it becomes law. That’s a great achievement for HHIC – and apologies for blowing our own trumpet at this point Market reaction We believe that a natural consequence of the new requirements set out in this consultation will be a greater range of heating system products for consumers to choose from. By mandating certain controls, such as programmable timers and thermostats, the market for these products will inevitably be widened whilst consumer awareness of them and their benefits will also inevitably increase. This will, in turn, lead the market to develop new products and improve existing ones to cater for the increased demand. The range of products available for controlling domestic heating systems is already rapidly developing, as evidenced by the significant increase in the number of smart home systems available in recent years. These changes will compliment and accelerate this trend by making consumers more aware of the many options for enhancing the efficiency of their system that are available to them. But do consumers engage effectively with things like ‘smart controls’? Every consumer is different in the way they use their system and its additions, to control their heating. Many that are conscious of the efficiency of their system will make full use of additions which require their input such as timers, thermostats, TRVs. Others will not make active use of theirs, especially when they are installed in a fixed location out of sight, such as in an airing cupboard or garage. A lack of usage is particularly prevalent when consumers move into a new property that has controls they are not familiar with, or when controls are installed in their home but not properly explained to them. FEATURE ARTICLE: THE HEATING AND HOT WATER INDUSTRY COUNCIL efficiency from the new system they are having installed. Furthermore, modern controls are far more intuitive now than they ever have been, and the latest innovations such as smart home automation devices are enabling users to interact with their heating system in new and extensive ways. We know from talking to installers that many already fit the technology specified in Boiler Plus, as standard, so ‘challenges’ should be minimal. Consumer education is a continual challenge faced by the industry as whole. We believe that a further natural consequence of the new requirements will be a greater range of heating system products for consumers to choose from. By mandating certain controls, such as programmable timers and thermostats, the market for these products will inevitably be widened whilst consumer awareness of them and their benefits will also inevitably increase. The new legislation only affects new combination boiler installations. It does, however, focus attention on the efficiency of boilers and heating systems, which can only be a good thing. The UK needs to modernise old heating appliances. This means replacing the 9 million inefficient boilers currently operating in UK homes, with more modern condensing ones that use less energy, thus reducing household energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. Some would say; if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Well, if it could be better, then it’s as good as. Boiler Plus will act as a catalyst for improving the UK’s energy efficiency. However, these changes will mean far more conversations between installers and their clients about the requirements set out in this consultation and the options that are available to meet them. This will clearly increase consumers’ awareness of what controls are and how they can be used to get maximum SPECIFIERS JOURNAL - SPRING 2018 17

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