While welcoming the launch of the Warm Homes, Greener Homes Strategy, BEAMA believes the Government has missed a golden opportunity to maximise household CO2 reductions and improve householder comfort. The association says the strategy surprisingly fails to give prominence to the effective role of any type of controls, in particular those for heating and hot water systems.
Responding to the strategy (launched at Ecobuild 2010) Dr Howard Porter, BEAMAs Chief Operating Officer (COO) comments: Yet again we have a Government policy failing to go beyond the traditional insulation message. In doing so, it completely ignores the role of heating controls in reducing heating bills and carbon emissions.
With 84% of the energy used in an average home for heating and hot water, this accounts for about 70% of the carbon emissions. Government has rightly recognised the need to address these energy savings as a priority and has heavily focused its policy on insulation measures. Yet, households must simultaneously consider other issues such as improving their boilers efficiency and ensuring it sits within a well-controlled heating system.
These very cost effective measures have received much less focus. Surely, it must be better to have a whole-house approach including a requirement for a minimum controls package, and ensuring all homes with boilers have a programmer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves.
Other types of controls, in particular lighting controls, should also be included in this whole house approach.
Controls improvements can reduce carbon emissions by over a fifth Dr Porter continues: This simple controls upgrade is a low-cost measure offering wider benefits. For example, the direct savings potential from improvements to controls can reduce by over 20% the carbon emissions from heating and hot water. Also, controls enable people to make behavioural changes to further reduce their energy use. The greatest potential for behavioural savings is in heating and hot water yet, as a simple example, you cant turn down your room thermostat if you dont have a room thermostat.
Controls ensure that energy savings from other measures are fully realised. For instance, a room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves will ensure that the application of insulation does not simply result in excessive internal temperatures rather than lower fuel bills.
The Warm Homes, Greener Homes Strategy advocates the development of a Warm Homes standard and BEAMA welcomes this. Such a standard must - at its core - include minimum controls requirements for heating. But, this proposed standard would only be applied to the social housing sector.
So why isnt the Government applying more policy pressure on the area of minimum controls standards for all homes driven by the Home Information Pack and house exchange?
The Building Regulations present the ideal statutory instrument to require minimum standards for new and refurbished dwellings by 2015.
Increasing the take-up of insulation in dwellings will have a major impact on reducing carbon emissions in dwellings, but without the addition of suitable controls, much of these carbon savings could be lost in overheating. The challenging UK carbon targets mean the Government cannot afford to continue missing out on the opportunities for joined-up thinking to successfully tackle the problem.