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Think outside the 'safe bet' box

Oliver Baker, chief executive of Ambion Heating, examines the benefits of computer-controlled infrared (CCIR) technolocy for low carbon heating

During the second half of 2020, we saw a real focus from the government on implementing a ‘green recovery’ from the Covid-19 pandemic. It started with the Chancellor’s Summer Statement, where the Green Homes Grant was announced, and ended with the publication of the government’s ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’ and the long-awaited Energy White Paper.

These kickstarted a raft of planned policies and consultations for 2021 - including the response to the Clean Heat Grant consultation as well as the Heat and Buildings Strategy.  

The Energy White Paper also provided a clearer direction of travel for the huge transformation that is needed to hit our national decarbonisation targets - net zero by 2050. As well as committing to publishing a roadmap for the Future Homes Standard, which requires that all new-build homes should be fitted with low carbon heating, ideally ahead of 2025, the Government also wants as many existing homes as possible to be in EPC Band C by 2035.

With the decarbonisation of heat now such a high priority, what are the options available to installers and end users? To date - while the incentives for greater take up of low-carbon heating are welcome - the focus has largely been on a limited range of heating technologies to help solve the heat decarbonisation challenge. We firmly believe that newer, innovative and more future-proof technologies like computer-controlled infrared (CCIR) heating should also be in the mix as, when it comes to heating, a one-size fits all approach just won’t work. So, how does CCIR work?

It is higher performance

We commissioned an independent performance review of CCIR to assess how it compares with both traditional convection systems and air source heat pumps (ASHPs). It revealed that CCIR provides the same levels of comfort within a room, using 60% less energy than a standard electric convection system and 3% less than ASHPs. This reduced consumption rate means that carbon emissions are also more than 60% lower than traditional systems.

What makes CCIR different is that the software within each panel constantly monitors each individual room and the energy storage characteristics within it, adjusting its routine to maintain the ambient temperature within the room, maximising its performance and using fewer units of energy than a traditional heating system. 

CCIR’s processors and sensors give it the ability to adapt to the environment it is operating in and optimise heat settings accordingly, enabling users to benefit from high-performance and cost-effective heating. This helps drive the high performance levels compared to traditional convective systems. 

It saves time and money

CCIR systems are also easy to install, whether they’re being retrofitted into an existing building or installed within a new build, because they simply need wiring into the mains rather than plumbing in.  

Another benefit is reducing the administrative burden of processing warranty claims. For example, CCIR has no moving parts and requires no annual maintenance, so makes a suitable choice for end user customers – particularly housebuilders – looking to ensure that they have minimum after sales issues and warranty claims.

It improves the comfort of end users

Many end users opt for CCIR because the heating experience feels natural and comfortable – once the fabric of the room is saturated with energy, it emits a comfortable, radiant heat.

CCIR also has a proven track record in reducing and preventing damp and improving the air quality within a building because it is not reliant on circulating air, so there’s typically less circulating dust. The natural heat and improved air quality creates a much more comfortable living environment.

What applications is CCIR suitable for?

In short, CCIR can be installed in any building that has electricity. While it is particularly suitable for off-gas grid properties, given the UK’s targets for switching from fossil fuel heating to low-carbon alternatives, housebuilders, landlords, commercial and public sector buildings could all benefit from the high performance and emissions reductions CCIR provides.

This year is set to be a big year for policy and strategies to tackle heat decarbonisation, so the future of heating has to be low-carbon. However, while some heating solutions could seem to be a ‘safe bet’ right now, it is likely they will be overtaken by newer and more efficient systems in the not too distant future. Therefore, it is important to take time to understand and investigate all the alternatives to gas central heating – such as CCIR – to ensure that the benefits are not only felt in the short term but are also sustainable solutions for the longer term.

 

24 February 2021

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