Simple solution to rapid energy savings

As the Government introduces new legislation to drive increased energy efficiency, organisations are encouraged to find affordable, practical solutions to reducing the energy demand in their buildings. Fortunately, with the latest advances in heating technology, improving a building’s energy performance doesn’t have to be complicated, says James Porter, Sales Director at Remeha Commercial.

Increased productivity, improved efficiency, reduced carbon emissions – is it too much to ask from our organisations? Inevitably, it all comes down to that thorny topic: energy. As the energy we use is directly related to the harmful greenhouse gases we emit, reducing the energy demand of our buildings could go a long way to meeting all these needs. By improving our energy efficiency, we can reduce our carbon footprint, improve productivity, create a more comfortable working environment and lower operating costs, all in one fell swoop. That’s the thinking behind Government initiatives like the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)[1], a mandatory assessment scheme for large organisations in the UK, which includes audits of the energy used by their buildings, industrial processes and transport to identify practical, cost-effective savings in these areas.

The advantages of improved energy efficiency are clear, with the Department of Energy and Climate Change estimating that ESOS could deliver £1.6bn net benefits to the UK, the majority of which will be felt directly by UK businesses as a result of energy savings. So where to start? As heating is the largest single-end user of heating in a building, accounting for over half of the total energy usage, it is an excellent starting point. And when it comes to efficient heating, the acknowledged quick win for immediate and long-term savings is condensing boilers.

Rapid energy and carbon savings

For the UK’s high percentage of old buildings, many of which still rely on boilers for their heating, condensing boiler technology is a simple, affordable route to rapid energy and carbon savings. The Carbon Trust estimates that replacing inefficient, non-condensing boilers with condensing boilers can cut gas consumption and carbon emissions by around a third, transforming the energy performance of a building. By recovering both the sensible and latent heat from the flue gases, which is otherwise wasted by conventional boilers, condensing boilers can achieve between 10 to 12% higher efficiencies than non-condensing boilers. In other words, if your building is heated by 15-year old atmospheric boilers operating at only 50 per cent, retrofitting 98 per cent efficient condensing boilers and adding the appropriate control could literally halve your energy demand from heating. It’s as simple as that.

Affordable

For a solution to be cost-effective it should offer rapid return on investment. Condensing boilers require a relatively low initial outlay for significant, immediate results and long-term gain. As such, this technology is not only an affordable option but a replicable solution that enables organisations to carry out upgrades on multiple sites or plant rooms rather than restricting themselves to just the one, for proportionally greater savings.

Minimum disruption

A practical solution implies minimum disturbance and upheaval. Disruption is one of the greatest concerns for many organisations where any downtime can affect short-term profitability. Manufacturers have responded to this requirement with easy-to-install, high-quality solutions that can be tailored to meet the specific requirements of a project, minimising disruption whilst delivering the same reliable, ultra efficient results. These lighter, more compact boilers are often supplied on wheels for greater manoeuvrability. Others can be disassembled into parts, a feature which is particularly beneficial where plant room access is restricted, speeding up installation time, minimising disruption and reducing on-site labour costs.

Keeping it simple

Perhaps one of the simplest, most efficient means of retrofitting condensing boilers is to install them on prefabricated cascade or rig systems. The boilers arrive in a factory-finished unit, ready to be wheeled into position for easy connection to the existing system. Not only is installation quick and easy, but operating the boilers in sequence also enables them to match more accurately the heat demand of the building, further maximising energy savings.

Restricted space in the plant room can present complications, especially in older or listed buildings. Here again, cascade and rig systems provide a straightforward solution due to their small footprint which allows the heat demand to be met in a fraction of the space occupied by the previous boilers. Well-designed cascade systems will offer contractors a number of design installation options to accommodate any restrictions in a neat, efficient solution.

A more recent innovation is the bespoke rig system service introduced by forward-thinking manufacturers to provide greater design flexibility in the plant room and help meet tight refurbishment schedules. As with cascade systems, the boilers are delivered into the plant room in a prefabricated unit. The difference is that these rigs are designed and manufactured to meet the exact requirements of each individual project, enabling the boilers to be installed in a fraction of the time. This solution is ideal for organisations carrying out a number of refurbishment projects in a small window of time.

Whether operating as the sole provider of heat or alongside renewable energy products such as gas absorption heat pumps or Combined Heat and Power units to meet peak demand, today’s reliable, high-efficiency condensing boilers can literally transform the energy performance of a building. Energy legislation is the stick some of us need to taste the carrot. Around 20 per cent of a company’s annual energy usage is currently wasted through inefficient practices, according to figures from the Carbon Trust. So why waste when you can save? With condensing boiler technology, we have the means to achieve immediate reductions in energy and carbon emissions, the promise of future savings and minimum to zero disruption – all in one simple solution. What’s not to like?

[1] For more information on ESOS, visit the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/energy-savings-opportunity-scheme-esos



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