In September 2015, the Energy Related Products Directive will be brought into force across Europe. In many ways, this directive will actually bring the standards of hot water and heating systems in Europe up to the standards of those already practised in the UK.
The ErP Directive is a framework that will set minimum requirements for certain energy consuming products in the domestic and light commercial sectors. The purpose of it is to establish a standard for emissions and ensuring products adhere to the requirements, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gases and improving the products energy efficiency.
According to the Government, to be considered for inclusion in the Directive, products must “Have a volume of sales that exceeds 200,000 units per year throughout the internal European market (this is an accumulative total and not one calculated on an individual producer basis). Have a significant environmental impact within the internal market and present significant potential for improvement in environmental impact without incurring excessive costs.”
A new labelling system will be introduced to show how efficient a product is. In addition to the already-existing A-Class rating for the most energy efficient products, A+, A++ and A+++ ratings will also be introduced in the hope of giving consumers a better idea about how energy efficient products are. The theory is that a public better educated on this matter will lead to improved energy efficiency in homes around the UK.
However, there have been some issues raised about the potential effectiveness of the new directive and whether it will have much of an impact, despite the good intentions behind it.
One issue highlighted is in the way people buy heating and hot water appliances, like boilers. With white goods like a refrigerator, which are currently labeled with information on how energy efficient they are, consumers will usually go to a retailer or store, compare the efficiency of one refrigerator with another and more often than not, select the refrigerator that is more efficient. However, when choosing a new boiler, people do not generally go around showrooms comparing different brands of boilers and looking at the different features and levels of efficiency. In many instances, people select new boilers in an emergency situation (e.g. in winter when their existing boiler has broken down) and will look to their plumber or heating engineer for advice on what to install. In this case, they wouldn’t be thinking about the labeling system and wouldn’t even see the labels on the boiler until it arrives at their home to be installed.
Another potential issue with the labeling system is when there is more than just the boiler being replaced within a heating system. A boiler may well have a helpful label on it showing it’s energy efficiency, but things become more complicated if a smart thermostat and a cylinder are also installed, as well as whether or not these new components are being fitted to a system that includes thermostatic radiator valves or a solar powered dimension. The energy efficiency labelling system will no longer apply to each individual product, but rather how these products perform when they are operating together in a system.
The kind of complications described above bring into question how much impact the new directives can actually have, however as the new labelling system is being introduced, it should be encouraged. Some customers will be more interested than others regarding how energy efficient their system is, but installers should be ready to explain the system should the customer enquire.
At present there is a little uncertainty about how exactly the labelling requirements will be put into practise, but manufacturers and government bodies are taking it seriously and looking at various ways this can be done. By the time the new requirements are introduced in September 2015, a system through which they can be actioned should have been agreed upon, making life easier for heating engineers and consumers and also improving the quality of energy efficiency in Britain’s housing stock.
Article by Benjamin Clarke