Looking at water heating and renewables
30/05/2013
Looking at water heating and renewables_1

With homeowners looking to reduce fuel bills, renewables are increasingly incorporated into new and existing systems as an efficient and cost effective way of producing domestic hot water. Ariston looks at the options available and which products installers might consider.

The combination of renewables and domestic hot water (DHW) can be a winning one, especially when specified and installed correctly. However, when it comes to specifying the right product for the job, installers are faced with a wide range of options. So, as renewable technology continues to evolve, what are the best choices for the provision for DHW?

Initially, it’s important to take a look at the motivations behind installing renewable technology. Sometimes homeowners simply want to “do their bit” for the environment and are happy in the knowledge they have reduced their carbon footprint to some extent. But more often these days, it’s an uncompromising bid to reduce utility costs and limit dependence on fossil fuels. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially for those who are off gas and bound to the inevitable price rises in heating oil and LPG.

So, with cost savings in mind, there are several options to consider. The first is solar thermal, which has been a popular choice for integration into a building’s heating system to provide DHW. Nevertheless, not all properties are suitable for DHW. Either the roof space is not large enough, or it simply faces the wrong direction to ensure enough solar energy is collected. However, this is not an issue for the second and most popular option for renewable hot water production: heat pumps.

Heat pumps can be easily integrated into existing properties, are versatile for different property types, and once installed, they more often than not function completely automatically. Plus, when it comes to running costs, ASHPs have excellent coefficients of performance (CoP).

Still, if there was a downside to mention about the current crop of ASHPs, it would have to be their size. As a result, some manufacturers are now looking to offer alternatives that focus solely on renewable hot water production. These new, ‘adapted technologies’ allow more properties – especially those in off gas areas – to incorporate renewable energy and use it effectively, without having to invest in a larger, more substantial unit.

One newly developed product that fits the bill is the integration of an ASHP with an unvented cylinder. This harnesses all the benefits of quick and efficient hot water delivery alongside the benefit of high CoPs – making them an excellent alternative to traditional electric storage water heaters. Plus, for many properties where space is an issue, these products can easily be sited within a property, and help contribute to considerable reductions in household utility costs.

There will continue to be an increase in these types of products coming to the market with homeowners looking to incorporate them into their hot water systems. It’s therefore important for installers to remember that there is not a one product fits all option and each property needs to be considered in line with the homeowner’s requirements, as well as the property’s location, siting and existing energy supply.

By keeping up to date with the latest innovations, installers will be able to offer homeowners alternatives that might not have been considered, and demonstrate that the combination of renewables and DHW is still as good as it’s ever been.

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