A small investment in modern heating controls can be a long term money saver

Thu 30th Apr 2015 - 8:50am Energy and Heating A small investment in modern heating controls can be a long term money saver
Benjamin

Benjamin Clarke

Some surprising recent government figures have emerged regarding the lack of heating controls installed in the UK’s homes…..

They suggest that approximately 95% of homes in the UK have boilers, yet 800,000 of these have no heating controls at all and a massive 70% lack the minimum specifications as laid out in the Building Regulations. These are quite shocking figures, particularly because, as we have discussed many times on this blog, the greater control you have over your heating system, the more comfortable you are going to feel and the lower your heating bills will be.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been keen to find ways to assist the public in lowering their heating bills. Consequently, the DECC has been conducting an important research study which has revealed a great deal about the public and their relationship with their heating systems.

The study identified 5 main types of users regarding heating controls:

1. Rationers
People who put minimising heating costs above all else by rationing the heating.
They would benefit from installing TRVs and programmable room thermostats.

2. Hands-off
People who have a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality.
They would also benefit from installing TRVs and programmable room thermostats.

3. Planners
People who proactively manage their heating, giving thought about what they need and when.
Planners would also benefit from programmable room thermostats and installing TRVs

4. Reactors
People who adjust their heating as a response to the conditions internally and/or externally.
Reactors most commonly live in properties >150 sqm, so creating two zones with room thermostats and TRVs would probably suit them best.

5. Ego-centric
People who put their comfort levels above any cost considerations.
They would benefit most from putting in a dial room thermostat, which can be adjusted manually. TRVs would also be recommended, as they would be for any household.

An area that has come on leaps and bounds in recent years is the use of smart devices to control heating systems. Heating apps have become popular because of their ability to control the heating from wherever you are.

For example, if a homeowner has gone on holiday and forgotten to turn off the heating (or to switch it to their favoured settings), they simply need to find an internet connection and use their phone or tablet to rectify the situation. Likewise, if someone has gone to work and realises they are not going to be home when the heating is due to come on, they can simply adjust the settings from their office, without the concern of heating an empty home and wasting money.

This type of technology is great for the ‘hands-off’ category of people identified above. It’s also very well suited to the tech-savvy and single people. Where this smart technology is less relevant is for people who are uncomfortable with smart phones and tablets and for families. If every member of a family was adjusting their heating remotely, then things could quickly get confused and counter-productive.

So while controlling heating remotely is a great option for many, we are not at the stage where it is an absolute necessity. Many people in the DECC study indicated that ease of use and simplicity is still the highest priority when it comes to heating controls. If controls are too complicated to operate and the learning curve is too steep, then people will stop using them, so it’s important that manufacturers continue to offer heating control products that can be used with the minimum of fuss.

Simplicity is why the combination of thermostatic radiator valves and dial controls is still so popular. They give the consumer a high degree of control, while not being difficult to operate. Characteristics such as large digital screens and battery powered room thermostats, are simple to use from a consumer point of view, while being easy to install and explain from an installer’s side of things.

It’s important to remember that the majority of people don’t want to spend too much time thinking about their heating systems, so our industry must be knowledgeable and flexible enough to offer a range of products that utilise latest technologies, but are careful not to overcomplicate things and to put consumers money saving needs first.

We should be encouraging people to make the small upfront investment in order to take control over their central heating, while making clear the double-pronged benefits of increasing comfort levels and decreasing heating bills.Some surprising recent government figures have emerged regarding the lack of heating controls installed in the UK’s home.

They suggest that approximately 95% of homes in the UK have boilers, yet 800,000 of these have no heating controls at all and a massive 70% lack the minimum specifications as laid out in the Building Regulations. These are quite shocking figures, particularly because, as we have discussed many times on this blog, the greater control you have over your heating system, the more comfortable you are going to feel and the lower your heating bills will be.

Article by Benjamin Clarke

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