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Controls – The Key to Maximising Heating Efficiency

Controls – The Key to Maximising Heating Efficiency

Homeowners across the UK took a collective gulp on 1st January when the OFGEM energy price cap was raised again. There may be good news on the horizon – with energy bills set to come down a little, later on in the year – but fundamentally, the higher energy bills we’ve seen over the past few years are likely to stay.   Gareth Ash, Marketing Communications Manager at Danfoss looks at how installers can help their customers to save energy and cut their bills, during the worst cost of living crisis we’ve seen for generations.

Is the answer to replace existing central heating systems? Sadly, for installers, continued economic uncertainty makes the thought of getting an entirely new system daunting for many homeowners. 

Changing focus

Until recently, comfort was the primary driver for UK householders when it came to choosing a central heating system. However, increased awareness of the climate crisis – alongside spiralling energy costs – has put energy efficiency sharply into focus. With regulatory changes and the government’s commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, that’s not going to change any time soon. 

The interesting thing for installers to stress is that no matter what the heating source, unless it’s controlled well, consumers are not going to be able to optimise their energy efficiency. The great news is that homeowners who want to cut costs and do their bit for the environment can achieve significant energy and cost savings by focusing on their heating controls. Until they’re ready to replace their heating system, that’s a quick win – and a cost-effective one at that!

Suggesting a few simple additions or tweaks to an existing system that will create visible savings, fast, ensures that when the customer needs a replacement system, their helpful installer will be front of mind. 

Quick fixes for big savings

Electronic Room Controls

Controlling their heating system’s operation time and desired temperature by using an electronic room control is the easiest way for householders to balance comfort and energy use. By ensuring that the heating system isn’t running when no-one’s in and by choosing their optimum temperature, end users can optimise their energy consumption and cut their bills – simply. Adding heating zones into the mix, which is possible with modern controls like Danfoss’s TP5001, will enable homeowners to further control their energy use, without compromising on comfort levels. 

Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) 

Good old TRVs are one of the best ways that homeowners can optimise their heating bills. Not over-heating rooms that are rarely used is a no-brainer for customers wanting to slash their bills without having to watch TV with their coats on! In addition to traditional TRVs, new technology has increased controllability via electronic radiator thermostats like the Danfoss Eco™, which enables end users to control the temperature of individual radiators via their smart phone, as well as the facility to adjust the thermostat manually.

System Balancing

Many homeowners are not aware of the benefits of system balancing, particularly in multi-storey homes, nor how quick and easy it is for a skilled installer to complete the work. If some radiators are hot and others are cold, of if the same radiator is hot and cold, then energy consumption is affected. 

As every heating professional knows

hydronic balancing is the process of optimising the flow of water in a hydronic heating

(or cooling) system by balancing the system pressure. Pressure drop in a central

heating system occurs because of the way water behaves when flowing through any

pipework system. Balancing ensures that water flows equally to individual radiators

and so prevents cold or hot spots occurring, or the property not heating at all.

As well as the discomfort factor, the efficiency of an unbalanced system is

significantly reduced, increasing energy consumption and fuel bills for consumers.

Furthermore, TRVs with too much flow may not operate properly and can become

noisy as water streams through the valves, particularly as they start to close when

the room temperature increases.  Despite hydronic system balancing being best practice, industry reports suggest that heating professionals don’t always complete this work during installation and commissioning of a new system. It can be time consuming, but these days, balancing radiators has bever been easier, thanks to Danfoss’s RAS-B2 valve, which features a differential pressure controller that ensures all radiators throughout the home get the heat they need throughout the year.  To make life even easier the RAS-B2 valve is featured on the Danfoss Installer App which allows installers to calculate, record and document the correct flow and subsequent setting for each radiator on their smartphone or tablet. Tests indicate that the RAS-B2 valve can cut the time needed to balance a system by 2 hours and save the homeowner 13 – 16% kWh/m 2, compared with 5 – 9% kWh/m 2 for a staticaccurate flow limiter with presetting.

A sympathetic installer who can quickly fix annoying issues like an unbalanced system and save the homeowner hard-earned cash on their heating bills will build long-lasting customer relationships that will bear fruit years into the future. 

Mixed system compatibility

There are a number of reasons why many homes now have mixed Central Heating systems. The move away from fossil fuel burning systems is one of the them, as is something as simple as getting an extension! Having controllable heat and hot water is essential in order to maximise energy efficiency and optimise comfort for residents, no matter how a system is put together. Choosing a reputable supplier for heating controls is the first step in ensuring that the fine line between comfort and efficiency is reached. Danfoss, inventors of the first TRV 80 years ago, have kept up to date with new trends in the market, offering controls that cover gas boilers, Air Source Heat Pumps and hydronic underfloor heating, ensuring controllability in mixed systems. 

A great opportunity to keep in touch

As we move towards Spring and warmer temperatures, homeowners are less likely to be thinking about their heating and energy costs. However, getting in touch with customers to have a chat about how they can cut their energy bills by optimising heating controls is a great way to drum up some extra business in the quiet season. 

Even better, it’s a win/win situation. Customers are more comfortable and can make savings on their energy bills, less energy use is great news for our planet and installers can enjoy some additional income from appreciative end users who aren’t ready to replace their system, but are up for making some cost-effective tweaks. What’s not to love?