The future of renewable water heating

The future of renewable water heating_1

As renewable hot water heating and storage products continue to evolve, there are a number of factors for installers to consider, especially in terms of reducing energy emissions and running costs for end users.

2013 should be the year that renewable technologies firmly establish their place on the water heating map. The Green Deal was launched in January, with the intention of funding energy saving measures to reduce energy consumption without any upfront costs to property owners. Indeed, the UK Government is aiming to lower costs and energy demands for 14 million homes by 2020.

As part of this reduction drive, initiatives have been put in place to encourage the application of renewable technologies. Although the domestic RHI has experienced multiple delays, it is at the time of writing, now scheduled to be implemented in 2014. In the interim, the government has attempted to bridge the gap by extending the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme until the end of March 2014. In addition, a number of renewable technologies are ‘eligible measures’ under the Green Deal, providing low cost, long-term finance, with repayments being attached to a property’s electricity bill.

So, there are many benefits and rewards available for combining renewables and domestic hot water (DHW), provided that it has been specified and installed correctly, of course. But considering the many types of renewable water heating products available, what should installers be fitting for the provision of DHW?

The method of water heating used within a property will depend upon whether it is located in an on or off-gas area. A report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Off-Gas Grid (APPG) revealed in March 2013 that a typical off-gas family faces fuel bills up to 120% higher than a mains gas user (and some 32% are classed as being in fuel poverty). So, it’s important for installers to fit cost effective systems where possible.

One such system comes in the form of electric water heating, which offers high levels of controllability and reliability. Utilising a correctly sized floor-standing, hot water cylinder, for example, is usually sufficient to satisfy the requirements of a three bedroom house.

Another technology that is already common throughout Europe is the heat pump water heater, with thousands of units being fitted during 2012 alone. Products of this nature, such as Ariston’s NUOS, are now beginning to grow in popularity in the UK. This cylinder with an integrated heat pump has a Coefficient of Performance (CoP) of 2.8 (tested in accordance with EN 16147). More impressively, it can also deliver energy savings of up to 75% when compared to regular electric hot water storage cylinders.

For areas of the UK where gas is available, the method of hot water supply is, more often than not, predetermined by the choice of central heating system. While the traditional gas boiler remains a stalwart of water heating, renewable technologies – especially solar – are becoming more prominent, especially given the government incentives alluded to earlier. When it comes to solar, installers will find it useful if they are able to recommend a compatible cylinder. Many solar thermal panels can be used with an existing water system or as part of a new installation in combination with an indirect or twin coil cylinder.

In light of the numerous government incentives and emissions targets, the future certainly looks bright for renewable water heating. Yet with such a plethora of options available to installers, it’s important they fully understand the wide range of technologies out there and get trained accordingly. Manufacturers need to keep installers up to date with the latest product innovations, which will enable them to fit the right products for the right applications, as well as provide their customers with value for money. Indeed, by continuing to develop new, alternative technologies, the combination of renewables and DHW will remain a winning one for many years to come.