In 2006, the Government removed the requirement for thermostatic radiator valves to be fitted when a boiler is replaced from Part L of the Building Regulations. This was a big error as it meant that installing one of the best energy-saving components of a central heating system was not made mandatory.
Adding an individual room temperature control (like a TRV) was a requirement of Part L until it was dropped in 2006. The reason given at the time was it was something that should be seen as good practice but not necessarily a requirement.
Legislation was introduced around 2006 that prohibited requirements to be placed on components that were not being changed. In effect, if it was just the boiler being changed, it was not legally possible to force the introduction of TRVs at the same time. In the eyes of the law, TRVs were seen as a system control, not a direct control of the boiler, so the requirement to add them was dropped from the Building Regulations.
In many cases, installers recognised the benefits of fitting TRVs and the reduction of energy bills for consumers and so continued installing them. However, what has happened over the years is that many plumbers and installers adhering to the ‘good practice’ recommendations have found themselves undercut by other installers willing to do a job to only meet the minimum requirements – namely, not installing TRVs. In turn, this led to other installers offering a service to meet only the minimum requirements as a way of keeping up and maintaining their business. This has caused a huge drop in the number of TRVs being installed around the UK, which is not good for lowering energy bills or helping the UK to meet energy efficiency targets.
It’s a shame that this situation has arisen, because when a new boiler is installed in a home, the system has to be completely drained down. A drained-down system is a perfect time to install thermostatic radiators and is a much more cost-effective time to do it, rather than installing them as a completely separate measure, which would be much more expensive.
It seems a strange decision to drop the requirement to install TRVs when a new boiler is being installed, because during the same period, the requirement of installing condensing boilers to all new builds and replacements of old boilers was introduced. Additionally, underfloor heating systems are required to have room temperature controls as are new radiator systems. So it doesn’t make sense that these energy efficiency measures should be put in place, yet they leave out the requirement for TRVs, which actually enhance the already-efficient performance of condenser boilers.
Research done by the University of Salford showed that adding a room thermostat and TRVs to a heating system could reduce the annual energy costs by as much as 40%. Failing to install TRVs has the potential to cause overheating in bedrooms and spare rooms, leading to unnecessary energy wastage and therefore, higher heating bills for the homeowner.
In 2016, the new version of Part L of the Building Regulations is due and it is hoped that the previous mistakes and missed opportunities have been learnt from. It is time for the government to amend the regulations accordingly to ensure that all UK homes are comfortable, have low energy bills and become on target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
The UK needs to hit its emissions targets, householders want to worry less about spending on their heating bills and more people need to be pulled out of fuel poverty, so we hope that policy makers make the correct decisions when they revise the Building Regulations next year by adding in the requirement to install TRVs when installing a new boiler. This will be in the long-terms interests of the country and the people.
Article by Benjamin Clarke