Integrating renewable technologies
30/04/2013
Integrating renewable technologies_1

With the economic climate remaining flat, homeowners are constantly on the lookout for new methods of reducing their fuel bills. At the same time, they want the latest, energy efficient and technologically advanced domestic heating and hot water products in their properties. This, alongside increased awareness – and demand – for renewables, has resulted in an array of different products entering the market; but with so many options now available to installers, how can they ensure they are providing their customers with the best system available?

The method in which hot water will be supplied is often predetermined by the central heating system. Hot water requirements usually vary with usage – although this is often not viewed to be as important as boiler location, ease of installation, cost etc.

The first port of call for installers for hot water heating remains the gas boiler. According to the Energy Saving Trust, boilers account for around 55% of end users’ annual energy bills, so an energy efficient boiler will make a big difference. SEDBUK ‘A’ rated boilers offer significant reductions in fuel bills, while the addition of advanced controls, such as outside temperature sensing and modulating room thermostats will further minimise energy consumption.

Of course, advances in water heating technology have led to other types of product entering the fray. Renewables are now increasingly being incorporated into new and existing systems as an efficient and cost effective way of producing domestic hot water. Indeed, the combination of renewables and domestic hot water (DHW) can be successful, as long as the system has been specified and installed correctly. So, with such an array of renewable technologies available to installers, which options are the best in terms of DHW provision?

One of the more popular choices for integration into a building’s heating system to provide DHW is solar panels. Solar DHW systems work for 12 months of the year, harnessing energy from the sun to provide comfortable levels of hot water, while reducing fuel bills and adding or enhancing value to a property. These systems are almost maintenance free, as well as capable of supplying up to half of the average family’s annual hot water needs.

The only disadvantage with solar DHW is that, unfortunately, not all properties in the UK are suitable for, or compatible with the technology – usually due to an inadequate roof area or the building facing the wrong direction to gain enough solar energy. Fortunately, technological advances have provided installers with another sustainable option: heat pumps.

High levels of versatility and adaptability have led to air source models becoming the most popular type of heat pump available. Yet these products still have shortcomings, such as issues with size and unwanted noise. While end users often tolerate these in return for financial and energy savings, manufacturers are still striving to create viable alternatives, by creating units centred exclusively on renewable hot water production.

In fact, Ariston is leading the way in renewable technology, having successfully developed a heat pump water heater with an integrated unvented cylinder. This provides quick and efficient hot water delivery, coupled with high CoPs – and is a viable alternative to traditional electric storage water heaters. On top of that, these units can be sited with ease, while reducing household utility costs.

Renewable heating products of this type will no doubt continue to enter the market, as end users look to incorporate them into their hot water systems. However, installers need to remain aware that there is no one individual, ‘whole house’ product suitable for all, and that every property has its own requirements, depending on its siting, energy supply and location. Only by installing the right products that meet these requirements can installers guarantee customer satisfaction, coupled with energy savings and lower fuel bills.

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