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.

Solar thermal – an affordable renewable solution

Solar thermal is both an affordable and efficient option for any homeowner who’s looking for a renewable solution – it can comfortably produce a large percentage of a household’s domestic hot water need without a hefty price tag.

Producing hot water throughout the whole year

A solar thermal system works year-round, obviously performing at its best during the summer months:

  • Typical average annual savings: 50%
  • Typical average July savings: 90%
  • Typical December savings: 10%

In roof solar thermal panel


Installing a solar thermal system requires minimal upheaval and offers immediate savings, making this type of technology a practical and cost-effective option for new-builds and existing properties.

For a homeowner, solar thermal is an option that enables them to improve their carbon footprint and take advantage of the government funding initiative, the RHI.

To access the RHI payments both the solar panels and the installation itself must be MCS approved.  At Nu-Heat, our panels have MCS approval, and we can also help installers with MCS by offering a comprehensive handover pack and a range of installation support options.

Positioning the panels

The builder or roofing contractor will usually install the panels either on or in the roof depending on the property.  Ideally they should be positioned on a south facing roof with a pitch of between 30° to 50°.

In retrofit projects, it is still possible to install flush-mounted, ‘in-roof’ panels as long as consideration is given to the specific roof structure.  Another option is to install the panels on a freestanding framework on a flat roof or in a garden.

Solar thermal for new builds…

Solar thermal is an obvious choice for new-build projects.  The panels and cylinder location can be specified from the outset and the pipework can be easily installed at an appropriate stage of the build.  Another bonus of considering solar thermal as part of a new build is that points will be awarded towards the Code for Sustainable Homes.

For smaller dwellings such as a flat or terraced house, a single panel solar system will streamline installation and provide a cost-effective option.

…and for existing properties

Solar thermal is also suitable for older properties.  It’s likely that most of the existing plumbing is reusable – the heating engineer will be able to offer advice on this and undertake installation of any new pipework, connection to the panels, cylinder and solar controller, with an electrician to connect up the control system.

Find out more

Check out the solar thermal section of our website to find out more or give us a call on 01404 549770.

So, your customer wants an integrated renewables system…

Installing an ASHP

With the new Domestic RHI now up and running, the renewables market is already growing and as a result, so are the opportunities for installers.  Given the number of potential combinations, successful multi-technology integration can be complex.

Here we look at the subject of integrating heat pumps, solar thermal and warm water underfloor heating systems, the legislation that may affect what you do and the help available to achieve a successfully integrated system.

Is the customer applying for the Domestic RHI?

The first question to ask is whether your customer wants to apply for any of the government’s financial incentives – the Domestic RHI and the Green Deal.

The Domestic RHI pays homeowners quarterly over a seven year period, helping to offset the initial cost of installing the renewable technology.  Tariffs vary depending on the technology that is being installed.  The Green Deal helps with the up-front costs of installing energy-efficient products offset against future energy savings.

If the homeowner is interested in any of the above it means that both the renewable product and the installer must be MCS approved and there will be a list of requirements that must be fulfilled in order to obtain an MCS Certificate and access funding.  There are plenty of approved generic installation training courses available throughout the UK and most suppliers offer short courses in their own products.

MCS approval for installers is based on training/qualifications in installation of the relevant technology followed by site inspections to check the quality of the work and provision of the correct documentation.  To allow you to concentrate on practical aspects of the job rather than admin, Nu-Heat supplies a comprehensive System Handover Pack to MIS standards that contains all relevant paperwork, manuals, bespoke M&E schematic drawings, heat loss calculations, energy summary, commissioning documentation, warranty certificates, health and safety information and user manuals.

Regardless of whether or not your customer is hoping for external funding it is vital to assess the project for the aspects that will affect product choice and system efficiency and then to discuss this with the supplier – they will be able to specify a sensible and cost-effective range of products based on your assessment and overall performance needs.

System design

System design is fundamental to the success of any heating system, especially when it involves renewable technologies.  A heat pump system must be designed to MIS3005, solar thermal to SAP 2013, and UFH in accordance with the Domestic Heating Compliance Guide.  The overall system must maximise efficiency whilst providing effective performance; and the fact that the UFH in particular will become part of the structure of the property means that the specification has to be right first time.

As a minimum the supplier should incorporate information relating to the building’s orientation, location, age and construction, insulation and heat losses, heat output requirement and DHW load into the system design and then tailor the specification to the available budget.  Having accurate information from the supplier allows installers to offer their customers genuine advice on whether a heat pump or solar thermal is suitable for their property, the size of unit needed, if there is a need for supplementary heating and, if so, the best technology to use.  The customer will be happy to have impartial advice from a professional installer, the system will heat the property fully and there will be fewer callouts.

Customer satisfaction

The best possible outcome for both installer and supplier is a happy customer, which is as much to do with system design and specification as it is with your ability, as there is little point having beautifully installed equipment that fails to heat the house effectively or provide enough hot water.  Therefore, our recommendation is to choose your supplier carefully; a good one will save you time and effort as well as help to maintain your professional reputation.

For guidance on integrated renewable systems, call us on 0800 731 1976.

Find out more about heat pumps and solar thermal.

The Domestic RHI – can we expect a renewables boom?

After many months of planning, the government’s much anticipated Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is finally up and running.  With such a long build up, and so many expectations to live up to, can we expect to see a real boom in the uptake of renewable technologies?

The initial figures are promising, with DECC hoping to see 35,000 households sign up in the first year alone.  If these targets are met, it is clear that it’s not just the homeowners who are set to benefit – installers and suppliers will also have a real opportunity to capitalise on the growing renewables market.

The Domestic RHI aims to encourage homeowners to switch to alternative, renewable heating solutions, such as heat pumps, by offering a financial incentive in the form of payback tariffs.  The quarterly payments are calculated and paid over a seven year period to help offset the initial cost of installing the renewable technology.  During the payback period and beyond, the homeowner will also benefit from on-going savings to their energy bills due to running a more efficient heating system in their home.

In the last few years Nu-Heat has seen a steady growth in the sales of heat pump and solar thermal systems without any strong incentive in place.  One of our Directors, Adrian Troop, takes some time to share his thoughts on the Domestic RHI and how he sees it affecting homeowners, installers and the marketplace as a whole.


Do you see the Domestic RHI having a positive impact on the renewables market?

Most definitely, especially in the self-build market where we have already noticed a positive increase in activity levels.  This area has been slow over the last few years, with self-builders like everyone else having to ‘ride out’ the recession with little or no thoughts on building.  Now we are seeing plans for projects which have been hibernating for the last few years, which together with the launch of the domestic RHI, will have a very positive effect on the domestic market.

As an established supplier of integrated renewable systems, what do you think makes the Domestic RHI different and more appealing in comparison to previous Government incentive schemes?

The benefits of the Domestic RHI are that the construction of the scheme and the tariffs applicable look to be well constructed, repaying the investment in renewable installation, whilst reaping the benefits of lower running costs.  We want there to be a steady increase in the uptake of renewable technologies, allowing the market to cope with the growth and in return put out both quality designs and installations as a result.

Do you think the scheme will open up the option of renewable solutions in a wider range of properties?

There is absolutely no reason why the positive effects will not be felt across the board into smaller and mid-range houses especially as it is expected that 35,000 households are expected to fit the technology in the first year!

Do you think the RHI will be more popular with homeowners than the previous government schemes?

We are already fielding more enquiries on ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps and solar thermal in recent weeks since DECC started publicising the pre-Easter launch, so it’s already starting to gain momentum.  I cannot see why it won’t prove popular, as logic states that if you can get a renewables heating system installed and get paid back, in some cases with a profit, within 7 years why wouldn’t you?

Which renewable technologies do you envisage becoming the most popular due to the domestic RHI?

Here at Nu-Heat, we feel that ground source heat pumps will see a resurgence in the general market, as those who have the available space to install the ground arrays and the higher upfront costs of the units will be rewarded with generous tariff payments.  In addition, solar thermal added into the scheme at the same time will add to the return generated from the tariff.

Who do you think will most benefit from the Domestic RHI?

Apart from the renewable heating system owner, installer and supplier, perhaps one of the area’s most likely to benefit are warm water underfloor heating providers.  With the benefits of a low temperature heat emitter such as underfloor heating, maximising the efficiency of the heat pump and providing a higher seasonal performance factor (SPF), clearly underfloor heating market is set to benefit too.

Do you see the Domestic RHI as a real incentive for installers to consider adding renewable technologies to their offering?

We think so.  We implore installers to get involved in this exciting growth market.  If you are a MCS ready installer, you are sitting ready to capitalise on the growth.  Clearly there are still many installers without MCS who will want to have the opportunity to gain from the market.  Nu-Heat has considerable experience in supporting novice installers new to our products and we encourage you to contact us to find out how this works.


For more information on how Nu-Heat supports novice installers, call us on 0800 731 1976

Find out more about Nu-Heat here.