Looking beyond legislation

Looking beyond legislation

With ongoing political uncertainty around the UK’s exit from the European Union, it is not yet known what the future holds for energy efficiency legislation. However, earlier this year Theresa May reinforced her pledge to halve the energy costs for the UK’s existing building stock. Whatever happens, one thing is certain: it is vitally important that we continue to reduce our impact on the environment. Here are some suggestions for how to specify heating products which not only meet current guidelines, but also safeguard against future changes. 

Buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of energy consumption and 36 per cent of CO2 emissions in the EU. Roughly 97 per cent of the EU’s building stock – over 30 billion m2 – is not currently energy efficient and at least three quarters of it will still be in use in 2050.

Although crucial for ensuring the comfort and wellbeing of occupants, heating, cooling and ventilation make a significant contribution to a property’s overall energy consumption.

Over the past decade or so, EU policies have paved the way for improving energy efficiency in the HVAC sector. For example, the ErP Directive outlined minimum energy efficiency requirements for a variety of products including boilers, water heaters, pumps, air conditioners and more. Products which did not comply were removed from the market.

The Energy Labelling Directive (ELD) is a related framework which dictates that products should display an alphabetised, colour-coded label according to their efficiency. The labelling system provides transparency for consumers, enabling them to compare the energy credentials of all products on the market, based on the outcome of standardised laboratory tests.

Buildings must also hold an overall Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which demonstrates their efficiency on a scale of A to G. Earlier this year, new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) made it unlawful to let buildings (both commercial and domestic) in England and Wales which do not achieve a minimum EPC rating of ‘E’.

Nobody currently knows what the future holds when it comes to legislation, however, there are key things to be aware of when specifying heating products:

Emitters matter

Whilst much attention is often given to the efficiency of space heaters, the rest of the system (including the radiators) if often overlooked. However, upgrading the heat emitters is a relatively straightforward way to reduce energy wastage and take a building’s energy efficiency credentials to the next level.

BRE tests show that a switch to low water content radiators, such as Jaga’s Low-H₂O  models, can deliver energy savings of up to 15% compared to standard steel-panel radiators. This is because the super conductive heat exchanger combined with their low water content means they can react much faster to indoor temperature changes, providing warmth quickly when needed but also turning off almost instantly once the temperature has reached the desired set point, ensuring the boiler doesn’t fire any longer than necessary.

Perfect partners

Consider installing a heat pump as they are more efficient than traditional heating technology, such as gas boilers. For each kW of electricity consumed by a heat pump, about 4kW of thermal energy is generated – this corresponds to a 300% efficiency. Conversely, condensing gas/oil boilers are usually between 90-96% efficient.

What’s more, they are estimated to reduce electricity use (and cost) for heating by around 50 per cent compared to electric resistance heaters and, can provide excellent thermal comfort.

Low-H₂O radiators used in connection with fan assisted technology also work very well with low temperature systems such as heat pumps. The aluminium and copper alloy heat exchanger rapidly transfers the heat to the room taking only two minutes to warm up and achieve the same ultimate output. With less water being used, Low-H₂O radiators can respond faster than higher water content counterparts, consequently consuming less energy.

Consider cooling

Recent research suggests that energy use for cooling will overtake the demand for heating by 2050. With this in mind, it is worth considering a hybrid system which is capable of doing both heating and cooling, to ensure the building is able to cope with changing requirements.

Two-in-one heating and cooling systems not only warm an interior but are also quick to adapt to cooling until the desired temperature is reached. Jaga products built with the cooling function are highly responsive to temperature changes, making them the ideal solution for warming in the winter, and cooling in the summer. A hybrid system will not only cut down on energy usage, but also reduce operating costs while maintaining year-round comfort conditions.

The future is uncertain, but if the industry continues to innovate then it will be well equipped to cater to anything in the pipeline.