Paul Lovegrove, Sales and Marketing Director of domestic heating controls specialist Horstmann explains how a good controls package can halve the energy bill.
Two summers ago the respected trade association BEAMA produced some statistics that claimed householders could save 40% on their heating bill by installing an effective controls package.
This comprised a room thermostat, TRVs on the radiators and a timer ideally fitted to a condensing boiler.
40% is a startling enough statistic in itself but 12 months later after further analysis - the same people at BEAMA came back with a revised figure they were now claiming savings of 53%. So the story gets better.
Some will say you can prove anything with statistics but the other side of that argument is the figures dont lie!
Government figures also released last year reveal that nearly half of centrally heated homes in the UK dont have both a room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves, the minimum requirements for new systems under the latest building regulations.
2013s research highlighted the importance of the room thermostat in particular and the increased 53% saving was achieved by refining the stat specification to a modern TPI model to yield higher savings.
BEAMAs savings figures are calculated from data collected from a very unassuming, traditional 1900s end terrace two bed-room property located in Salford, near Manchester. It has solid brick external walls, single glazed sash windows, timber boarded floors and lath & plaster ceilings. The house is fully decorated, furnished and functional and the loft is insulated with 100mm mineral wool insulation.
But thats where the normality ends.
This is the Energy House. It has been fully constructed inside an environmentally controlled chamber located on the University of Salford campus and is fitted with numerous sensors and monitoring devices.
The Energy House is heated by a standard water filled radiator system and each radiator is fitted with a TRV. The boiler is a wall mounted gas fired condensing unit, rated output up to 28kW, with the TPI room thermostat fitted in the living room.
TPI room stats may be familiar to many installers but householders may be unaware of their benefits.
Time Proportional Integral (TPI) - is a software development capable of adjusting the temperature based on previously collected data to maintain a consistent room temperature that is also energy efficient to maintain.
TPI stats work by calculating set temperature cycles that the heating system will go through per hour.
They outperform older styles of thermostat using precise and efficient software, optimising the boiler firing regime so it fires for shorter durations as the room temperature approaches the set point, thus creating the potential for energy savings in the order of an additional 10% when used with condensing boilers.
To prevent the boiler working constantly to heat the room at a set temperature the TPI thermostat increases and decreases the boiler firing regime to maintain a precise room temperature without overusing the boiler.
So, armed with the statistics what is the best way to upgrade?
Understandably, it must be accepted that many householders might balk at the installation cost and the disruption to the house and décor if the installer starts talking about channelling and wiring.
This is where the wireless option comes into its own.
An upgrade with a wireless time switch and TPI thermostat will require professional installation as the receiver needs connecting into the boiler control. The payback on the upgrade controls package with a couple of hours labour should be comfortably achieved within a year.
By introducing a time switch working in combination with a room thermostat (or a combined programmable room thermostat) and with TRVs fitted BEAMAs 53% energy cost reduction becomes achievable.
When considering a possible upgrade, it is worth remembering that a controls upgrade is by far the quickest path to achieving cost savings and significant reductions in the carbon emissions from existing homes. In tandem with correct levels of insulation it is an option well worth considering.