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Control is key to efficiency

New research carried out for the BEAMA controls group, TACMA, shows that the installation of effective temperature controls on residential heating systems has a far more significant effect on minimising energy use than previously predicted. These have significant implications for controls used in the commercial sector in applications such as sheltered accommodation and care homes
Recent tests conducted in a typical UK house, built within an environmental chamber, show that energy consumption by the heating systems can be reduced by up to 40 per cent through the installation of a room thermostat and TRVs, with installation costs recovered in a year or less.

Carried out by the University of Salford, the tests also showed how the application of TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves), providing independent temperature control in every room, can significantly improve comfort for householders by providing satisfactory heat distribution around a dwelling. The tests show this is not achieved without TRVs, even if the system is balanced.

TACMA director Colin Timmins commented: 'It's clear from this latest evidence that all homes with a conventional hydronic heating system should have a room thermostat and a full set of TRVs. Benefits for householders will be systems that work as intended, delivering both comfort and efficiency.

'Installers will benefit too by making sure that both room thermostats and TRVs are brought up to standard when a boiler is replaced, and also by promoting heating controls as a valuable home improvement when, for example, servicing an existing boiler.'

The BEAMA heating controls group, TACMA, represents UK manufacturers and suppliers of electrical and electronic controls and switches used in appliances, heating systems and general purpose applications. Its members are: Danfoss, Honeywell, Horstmann, Invensys, Myson, Pegler Yorkshire, Siemens, and Sunvic. ACMA is dedicated to advancing heating controls for domestic installations to ensure a comfortable environment at the least cost.
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The group commissioned the University of Salford to carry out some independent tests on the performance of heating controls in their Energy House facility. Consisting of a full size house built within an environmental chamber, the facility is designed to assess the effectiveness of new and existing technologies in reducing energy use and waste.

The resulting report prepared by TACMA presents the outcomes of these tests, and draws conclusions on what this means for the heating industry and householders in respect of the benefits of heating controls.

On highlighting the conclusions from the research Colin Timmins said: 'The potential savings from the installation of heating controls (room thermostat and TRVs) is over 40% of the heating costs - far greater than previously assumed.

'The use of controls also improves comfort for householders by providing satisfactory heat distribution around a dwelling - tests show this is not achieved without TRVs, even if the system is balanced.

'Temperature controls can offer a quick payback of typically around a year and payback is even quicker when done at the time of a boiler replacement.'

Tests performed at Salford University's Energy House

The Energy House at Salford University was opened during Spring 2012 and is the only facility of its kind in the world. A representative pre-1910, Victorian-style terrace was reconstructed within an environmentally controllable chamber, in which levels of heat, light humidity and rain can be simulated. The facility monitors energy consumption to assess the effect of different ways to sustainably retrofit the existing housing stock. The house is representative of over 5 million of the current UK housing stock and is fully furnished and fitted as a typical working home with a conventional heating system with an A-rated condensing boiler and radiators. The advantage of the Energy House is that it allowed tests assessing the ability of controls to reduce energy use when introduced onto a real heating system installed in a real house without the intervention of user behaviour. The aim of the tests was twofold:

- To demonstrate a 'cause and effect' between the addition of controls at the correct setting to a heating system and the resultant energy used by the boiler.

- To determine the overall savings potential from a 'worst case' home where no control of temperature is implemented other than perhaps opening windows, and a situation where the same home has controls installed and operated in a way that we would expect.

Three tests were carried out. They were all executed with the environmental chamber maintaining an average winter external temperature of 5 deg C, and with the heating system timed to come on and off in accordance with the SAP weekday heating pattern of two hours in the morning, and seven hours in the afternoon/evening, both with a 30 minute warm up time. The tests were as below:

Test 1 - The heating system was operated with no temperature control other that the internal boiler thermostat.

Test 2 - The heating system was operated with temperature control by a room thermostat (with interlock) located in the living room.

Test 3 - The heating system was operated with temperature control by a room thermostat (with interlock) in the living room and TRVs on all radiators other than the one in the living room.
10 September 2013

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