Time for a heating makeover
With the Government’s austerity measures taking a firm grip on the already beleaguered public sector and continually soaring energy prices adding to the challenges ahead, local authorities must look for ways of making efficiency savings wherever possible. Buildings are a prime starting point.
If renewable energy was the headline hitter of 2011, energy efficiency might well be its successor in 2012. Ever-rising fuel costs are forcing us all to look for ways to make energy savings in an affordable fashion. As energy consumption is directly linked with greenhouse gas emissions, this ties in with the UK’s environmental commitments to meet the steep Government target of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2027 and 80% by 2050 on 1990 levels.
Around a third of the UK’s energy consumption is used for heating or delivering hot water, according to the Carbon Trust, with commercial boiler plant accounting for a large part of the total. So it makes sense for local authority estate managers to look at ways of improving the energy efficiency of heating in their buildings to lower energy bills and running costs.
Refurbishing the past
The Government has shown its commitment to creating a sustainable built environment by pledging that all new homes will be zero carbon by 2016 and all new buildings by 2019. However, according to a report by the Building Research Establishment, 60% of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 are already built and 40% pre date 1985 (the year that Building Regulations regarding fuel and power were first introduced under Part L). That is why refurbishment of our existing buildings is crucial both to energy bill savings and to meeting our carbon reduction target. Encouragingly, significant savings can be made relatively easily and at low cost. Here’s how.
Upgrading boilers – the key to energy and cost savings
Of all the energy efficiency measures, upgrading old boilers to high efficiency gas condensing boilers is probably still the most cost-effective and affordable solution to cutting energy usage and making cost savings.
Many buildings still have a 25- to 30-year-old atmospheric boiler in place, wasting up to 50% of the energy they input up the chimney. In comparison, today’s gas condensing boiler is highly efficient and reliable, with compact dimensions and modular design that make it flexible and easy to install, causing minimum disruption to tenants. They tick the eco-friendly box by reducing the levels of harmful greenhouse gases such as CO2 and NOx by at least 90% and cut fuel costs by around 50%.
‘Super condensing’ boilers – up to 48% energy savings
As technology marches on, challenging boiler efficiencies still further, new ‘super condensing’ boilers have arrived on the market, such as Remeha’s Quinta Eco Plus. Heating and hot water systems such as this perform well at all operating conditions and reach a new attainable efficiency level of 97% GVC at 82/71°C flow and return temperatures by using passive flue gas heat recovery systems to recover energy that would otherwise be lost up the flue. Put simply, they deliver you £97 of usable energy for every £100 of gas input, making them an affordable, replicable, energy efficient heating system.
Insulation – 10% savings
Replacing insulation on boilers, pipework and valves can prevent heat losses and save up to 10% of the energy input.
Thermostat – 10% savings
Turn the thermostat down by 1°C and you could cut your heating bills by 10% according to the Energy Saving Trust. Putting the right controls on a boiler will allow it to operate at maximum efficiency and deliver energy savings. Thermostats, timers, zone control, advanced multiboiler control, weather compensation – technology has advanced in this area to help deliver optimum efficiency levels from boilers which means lower heating bills.
Variable speed drive – 40% savings
Adding a variable speed drive to forced/induced-draught boilers will reduce fan speed and its energy consumption.
Variable speed pumps – 25-50% savings
Fitting variable speed pumps will cut significantly the pumping energy consumption.
Maintenance – 10% savings
Regular maintenance and servicing is important for boilers to operate at their optimum performance level and can prevent energy increases of up to 10% from soot or limescale build up.
Adding a flue damper will also prevent any heat loss by closing off the flue when the boiler is not firing.
It’s tough out there, there’s no doubt about it. But at least, when it comes to heating, there remain affordable opportunities to reduce energy bills and cut carbon. At Remeha, we look forward to working with consultants and contractors to help local authorities implement energy efficiency measures which will allow them to reduce their impact on the environment, make carbon savings and meet their carbon reduction target, all while making their reduced funds stretch further.
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