Source: HeatingAndVentilating.net - http://www.heatingandventilating.net/
Electric heating is growing in popularity in the residential care sector, says David Garrity.
As the Government unveils possible routes to a low carbon economy in its recently published '2050 pathways analysis' it's clear that a substantial level of electrification of heating, transport and industry will be required in the coming years as we harness a decarbonised grid to fuel our nation.
Against this backdrop electric heating systems have a vital role to play, offering a smooth transition between energy sources as we cease to be a nation dependent on fossil fuels.
As well as benefiting from suppliers moving to low and zero carbon electricity over the coming years, the latest generation of electric heating systems offer fingertip time and temperature control for an entire building, predefined zones or on an individual room basis. As a result, systems such as ours are not only 100 per cent efficient, turning every £1 spent on fuel into actual heat, but also 100 per cent effective - ensuring heat is only delivered when and where it is needed.
Controllability is crucial
With controllability becoming as important as efficiency when specifying a new heating system, it's no wonder that more and more people are turning to electric systems both to prevent energy wastage and to ensure maximum thermal comfort for end users.
Having complete temperature control is of course especially important when caring for vulnerable groups such as the young and the elderly where maintaining the right temperature and avoiding both cold spots and overheating is crucial to their health.
The latest electric heating systems are also invaluable in bringing older properties up to date, either replacing aged storage heaters or providing a contemporary heating solution in areas with no gas supply or where connection is cost prohibitive. Easy to fit and cost effective, such systems can be installed with minimal disruption to residents and with the added advantage of looking exactly like a traditional gas central heating system.
After all, heat remains a basic human necessity and end users want a system that is not only proven, but with which they are comfortable. Electric heating systems therefore have the added advantage of being an established heating method with a track record of delivering heat on demand. And, while users may not yet be as familiar with new developments such as heat pumps and electric water-filled radiators, they are likely to have first hand experience of storage, panel and convector heaters.
Safety is also obviously paramount when caring for high risk groups and Low Surface Temperature (LST) electric heating systems therefore provide additional reassurance and protection thanks to their specialist steel casing which prevents their surface temperature from exceeding 43°C, thereby complying with strict NHS standards. Thanks to their striking design, such systems also provide a strong visual presence in a room, making them easy to see by the visually impaired, while radiused edges minimize the risk of injury in the event of a fall.
Their ability to reduce the risk of injury through physical contact is however just one of the reasons that electric, rather than gas, heating systems are being specified in buildings housing vulnerable residents.
A gas leak, however swiftly discovered, could be catastrophic in multiple occupancy properties where residents have limited mobility, making an evacuation difficult.
One organisation already embracing the benefits of fingertip heat control is the Canterbury Care Group which recently expanded its portfolio with the purchase of two new care homes, both of which had been fitted with storage heaters.
Heat where it's needed
Director Tony Stein explains: "An inspection by the Care Quality Commission demanded that a more responsive, safe and efficient heating system was installed in both new homes.
"We have a gas supply to both buildings but, with concrete floors, installing a traditional central heating system would have been costly and time consuming.
Our ultimate aim was to find a system that provided heat when and where needed, which would be safe to use around vulnerable residents and which could quickly replace the old night storage system with no disruption to those in our care or our business."
Canterbury Care regional manager Lesley Gardner adds: "Because the body temperature of our residents can dramatically rise or fall in minutes, the night storage heaters were simply not responsive enough to their needs.
We also found that our rooms were constantly too hot as the system produced hours of heat throughout the day after storing it up during the night.
Adjustable to residents' needs
"We now have a more controlled heating system that can be adjusted to suit residents' needs. It's also hugely important that Heat Electric's radiators look so much like traditional radiators. In a place where we're trying to recreate the feeling and the comforts of home, such detail cannot be underestimated."
Whether used throughout a building or solely in high risk areas, LST electric radiators ensure that the most vulnerable members of society are not only protected from a very real danger to their health, but also have access to the most efficient, responsive and effective form of heating 24 hours a day.
•David Garrity is managing director of Heat Electric