Heating installers have always been able to add value to their businesses by offering a full portfolio of energy efficient technologies – from boilers and renewables, to heat emitters. But now, there is an additional option available: controls. Indeed, identifying situations where new controls are needed and explaining their long-term benefits to customers can result in significant energy savings. Of course, every customer will have different control requirements, so it is important to recommend and fit the most appropriate units for the heating system in hand.
To get the best results from the latest condensing boilers, as well as optimise system efficiency, the use of modulating room thermostats is essential. The majority of older properties will already have the basic on/off switching technology that came with their original boiler. However, the problem with this technology is that it can cause fluctuations in room temperatures, as well as have an impact on boiler efficiency. So, by upgrading these inefficient systems with modulating controls, boiler temperatures can be accordingly adjusted to within 0.1°C of the set level, ironing out any peaks and troughs and improving energy efficiency.
Additionally, the latest wireless controls can be an excellent alternative when upgrading a central heating system, as they can be fitted almost anywhere in a property. Especially useful for larger premises, using wireless controls eliminates the need for long wiring runs which, in turn, reduces disruption, cost and upheaval for homeowners, while enabling a quick and easy installation.
Another control device among an installer’s armoury that can improve a boiler’s efficiency is the outdoor sensor. Whereas internal modulating sensors adjust the boiler output depending on the conditions inside, an outdoor sensor supplies an extra line of data, enabling more accurate system adjustments. So, if the temperature outside suddenly drops – during a cold snap in winter, for instance – the boiler can respond and adjust the system’s flow temperature accordingly.
Furthermore, some of the more sophisticated boilers on the market (such as Ariston’s own CLAS HE evo) are able to be electronically controlled to favour either outdoor or room sensors, depending upon a building’s fabric and thermal efficiencies. This means that if, for example, a property had good levels of air tightness, there would be a bias from the boiler towards data from the internal sensor, whereas a less insulated building would utilise the outdoor sensor’s data.
The latest generation of controls are also effective in helping installers comply with the Building Regulations covering any new or replacement heating system regarding zoning. The Regulations state that at least two space heating zones with independent temperature controls are required – one for the living area and the other for the sleeping area. In addition, any properties larger than 150m2 require separate timing and temperature controls to prevent the unnecessary heating of unoccupied bedrooms, as well as allow each zone to operate at a different temperature.