What makes an efficient heating system?

Homeowners are telling us that choosing an efficient heating system is more important than ever before, with low running costs and low energy consumption being the key factors in choosing an underfloor heating system (UFH) or integrated renewables solution. With this in mind, what do you need to consider to make a truly efficient heating system?

Heating system

System design is essential

A good design and supply company will always specify and design an efficient and bespoke system that is well suited to the property and the homeowner’s lifestyle. For every system the bespoke design should be based on heat loss calculations for each individual room (one room could have three external walls, meaning a higher heat loss than another with just one external wall), and early recommendations may be made to improve the system’s efficiency – so you can be confident that the final design will result in a system that will perform. Find out more about what makes a good UFH system design in this blog post.

UFH is an efficient solution

Because the emitting area for UFH is large, sufficient warmth is provided across the whole floor surface to heat the room effectively. And, because UFH uses far lower water temperatures than a radiator system, the heat source doesn’t have to work as hard to reach higher temperatures and makes the most of a boiler’s condensing mode, so it operates much more efficiently, meaning lower annual running costs.

UFH works with gas, oil and LPG boilers as well as ground and air source heat pumps. The lower flow temperatures required for UFH make it an ideal partner for heat pumps, which provide optimum efficiency at low temperatures, therefore reducing the cost of heating. Insulation is extremely important when installing a heat pump – the more insulation, the less heat that is lost.

When paired with a modern condensing boiler, UFH is approximately 25% more efficient than radiators.

Flexible control

Controlling a heating system remotely is now an option offering great flexibility as well as reduced running costs. Remote access to heating controls ensures that rooms are heated only when needed.

Thermostats can be installed with UFH in each room, meaning individual room temperatures can be independently controlled from one single Smart Control – or even a smartphone. The flexibility to control room temperatures separately enables ‘fine tuning’, giving perfect comfort with improved system controllability.

You can find out more about the control options for UFH on our thermostats page.

A closer look at an ErP label

Newly introduced energy labelling and ErP

The introduction of the Energy Related Products Directive, or ErP, means that all new heating systems will now come with a product and package label to give a clear rating of their energy efficiency. Its purpose is to make the efficiency of heating products easier to compare, helping homeowners and installers to make informed and eco-friendly decisions.

Nu-Heat provides system package labels for all of our heat pump and solar systems. You will see the product and system fiche information as well as the energy label for the package in every quote. The label will also be printed and included in the handover pack with the customer user guides.

If you are installing our UFH in a project, the energy label for the heating package will be calculated and provided by the installer – this is because they have all of the relevant information on the heat source, thermostats and any other components. It’s simple for an installer to calculate and generate this label themselves and we have produced all of the required forms and an instructional video, available on our ErP resources page.

Careful integration means better system efficiency for the end user

The importance of system design, installation and commissioning support should not be underestimated when choosing an UFH system or integrated renewables solution – they provide the installer and homeowner with peace of mind that the system is being handled by experts and will perform as expected.

Our team will be happy to discuss or advise on an efficient UFH & renewables heating system for any upcoming projects. Call us on 01404 549770, 8am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.

What you need to know about installing an air source heat pump

With the RHI incentivising homeowners and an ongoing focus on more efficient ways to heat properties, now is a good time to embrace low carbon heating technology. An air source heat pump (ASHP) is a popular renewable solution that is suitable for a wide range of projects from small to large.

ASHPs are simple to install, without the need for extensive groundworks, and any plumbing & heating engineer is able to install these units with the help of our MCS support packages, where we take on all of the MCS compliance paperwork and can also commission the system if required.

In this post, we’re taking a closer look at the key stages of installing an ASHP and the support Nu-Heat offers.

Air source heat pump

First off, is the property suitable?

 

Insulation

The most important consideration when checking the suitability of an ASHP for a project is how much insulation is present. A well-insulated property will prevent heat escaping, enabling the heat pump to work efficiently at lower flow temperatures, providing the homeowner with an effective, economic heating system.

The insulation present in all new build properties built to Part L1A, and generally those built in the last 10 years, are likely to be suitable for an ASHP.

Older properties will require insulation upgrades such as loft, cavity wall and glazing improvements in line with Part L1B of the Building Regulations.

Access to mains gas

In an existing property, an ASHP is generally suitable only if there is not access to mains gas. This is because the homeowner will see a greater return on investment when compared to the cost of running their previous oil, LPG or electric heating system.

New build properties that have access to mains gas are still suitable for an ASHP, which will perform very efficiently, and this option is often chosen when aiming to create an eco-home that is not reliant on fossil fuels.

Planning permission

Most ASHP installations will fall into the category of permitted development in line with MCS020, so will not require planning permission. Obviously, it is important to check this before getting started!

If the property is listed, in an AONB or Conservation Area or requires more than one heat pump unit, planning permission will be required and the homeowner will have to apply for this.

For more information on ASHPs and planning permission, you can read one of our previous blog posts.

The heat emitter

ASHPs operate most efficiently when connected to low temperature heat emitters, such as underfloor heating or a combination of underfloor and radiators.

If traditional radiators are the preferred option, it’s worth bearing in mind that they will need to be sized in line with the lower water flow temperatures associated with heat pumps; this means they are generally twice the size than those used with a gas or oil boiler.

Installing an ASHP – the key stages

 

Step 1 – Finding the right supplier and ASHP design

Choosing an experienced supplier is essential when it comes to heat pump system design. You need to be confident that the solution will be efficient and work as expected. Nu-Heat offers the following as standard:

  • Advice and guidance on the suitability of an ASHP for the project
  • Full heat loss calculations for the property in order to correctly size the ASHP
  • An accurate quotation for the system components in line with MCS and RECC standards
  • Support with MCS compliance. This cuts down significantly on the amount of time an installer needs to spend on paperwork and is essential should the homeowner wish to apply for the Government’s RHI scheme (annual tax-free financial support payments)
  • Mechanical and electrical drawings specific to the installation as well as clear installation manuals and customer user guides

Step 2 – Installing the product

Installing the ASHP unit is relatively simple for any plumbing & heating engineer. The heat pump controls and pipework layout are very similar to a traditional gas or oil boiler, configured as a Y or S plan industry standard layout.

  • The ASHP is simply placed on a flat concrete base external to the property with the appropriately sized flow and return heating pipes and electrical power cable running from the unit into the property
  • The electrical work should be carried out by a qualified electrician in the conventional way as you would for a gas or oil boiler

To simplify the process Nu-Heat provides a complete set of ‘as installed’ mechanical and electrical drawings, which will provide a fault-free template of the complete system layout.

Step 3 – Getting the system up and running

On completion of the first and second fix installation of the mechanical and electrical heat pump components, the ASHP unit will be ready for commissioning. It’s this element of the install that can be seen as a little daunting for a first-time ASHP installer, which is why Nu-Heat offers various levels of support:

  • Onsite commissioning. To ensure the system is MCS compliant, Nu-Heat can send out one our own field service engineers to commission and explain the system set up and functionality of the heat pump controls
  • MCS paperwork. Whether MCS or non-MCS registered, an installer can choose a support package to pass over the cumbersome compliance paperwork to Nu-Heat, freeing up time to spend out on the job and not in the office. Nu-Heat also completes and provides all of the relevant MCS support documentation for the homeowner’s RHI application, warranties and guarantees

On commissioning the installer will also receive a handover pack that is passed on to the homeowner that includes everything required for MCS compliance as well as user guides.

For more information on ASHPs, visit our heat pumps page.

A closer look at an ErP label

A closer look at an ErP label

The introduction of the Energy Related Products Directive, or ErP, means that all new heating systems will now come with a product and package label to give a clear rating of their energy efficiency. Its purpose is to make the efficiency of heating products easier to compare, helping homeowners and installers to make informed and eco-friendly decisions.

In this blog post we’re taking a closer look at an energy efficiency label for a system package. This type of label would be provided whenever a heat source such as a heat pump or boiler is paired with another add-on product, such as thermostats or solar thermal, to create what is known as a ‘package.

ErP label – an overview

 
You can see a breakdown of the different elements of the label on our annotated version below. Click on the image to enlarge:

ErP system label

Heat source efficiency

The top left box includes the energy efficiency rating(s) for the heat source. For a combi boiler you would see a rating for both heating and hot water. For a standard gas boiler or heat pump without a built-in water cylinder or instant hot water capability you would just see a rating for heating.

System heating rating

The top right box shows the system’s energy efficiency rating for heating.

System domestic hot water rating

The bottom right box shows the system’s energy efficiency rating for hot water. This rating is only applicable if the heat source is a combi boiler or a heat pump with a built-in water cylinder.

The extras

The bottom left box shows the optional system ‘add-ons’. These include solar thermal, a hot water storage tank, thermostats and a supplementary heater. Whenever one of the additional components is part of the overall system package, the box will be checked. These components can affect the overall heating and hot water efficiency of the system e.g. solar thermal will improve the efficiency.

» For more info on ErP, visit our ErP page.