As we reach the end of our silver anniversary year, Nu-Heat MD David Roberts shares his thoughts on the future of heating, and what this means for us and our homes.
As homeowners, we all want the same thing – to have warm and comfortable homes where we are in control of our heating systems and our bills. For me, this is also about ensuring that my comfort is not at the expense of the environment, but how can this be achieved and secured for the long term?
It can feel like there is a lot of speculation around the future of heating in the UK. Is the Government doing enough to combat climate change? Do energy grants and tariffs for renewables go far enough? Are energy companies doing enough to make sure fuel prices are fair and transparent? What is the best source of advice and what does all this mean for us, as homeowners?
Recent Government publications such as the Clean Growth Strategy and Each Home Counts, show that policy makers are seeking to address some of these big questions, but whatever the outcome, we will always seek comfort and control that doesn’t cost the earth.
Change is coming – an exciting and efficient future
The way we heat our homes is slowly changing, and it needs to. As a nation, we have to cut building emissions and improve the efficiency of our homes. The future of UK heating cannot involve high heating bills or fuel poverty. I believe that our collective desire to live cost-effectively in our cosy, welcoming homes is an achievable goal and one that the heating industry must play a significant role in making a reality.
Over recent years we have seen various measures put in place to improve the efficiency of our homes – the installation of loft and cavity wall insulation, the gradual roll out of smart meters, and an increased demand for smart thermostats and low temperature systems like underfloor heating. These are all steps in the right direction, creating warmer homes with better energy usage control, and helping us all to consider and improve the efficiency of our homes.
In the future though, the heating industry has to bring these measures together to ensure that heating systems are specifically designed to meet the needs of each building. Only then will our homes be truly efficient, save us money, improve our health and be more comfortable to live in.
But in order to achieve this, a change of thinking is required. We all have a responsibility to think about heating differently. Heating is about more than fitting a new gas boiler or simply replacing a radiator. It’s about investing some time into choosing the right option, selecting the right heating solution for each and every home and those who live there, shunning the ‘rule of thumb’ approach.
When building new, renovating or adding an extension, we need to think outside the box, embracing new developments and the benefits they can offer both us as homeowners and the wider environment.
Zoned systems, which can be individually and accurately controlled on a room-by-room basis to run at lower temperatures, are the future.
Our part in this future
So, how can we all play our part in changing the way the UK thinks about heating? I believe that there are three main areas where we can all make a difference.
1. Be open-minded
Whilst it’s widely acknowledged that there’s more to modern day heating than boilers and radiators, many people are still unaware of the full range of options available to them. Sadly this can leave us settling for second best when it comes to our home heating; paying over-the-odds for high temperature technologies in new homes that simply don’t need them, or watching our smart meters highlight – rather than resolve – the inefficiencies of our heating systems.
It is absolutely the role of suppliers to promote the alternative ways to heat a home and the benefits these can offer, and some are already working on this by broadening their outreach activities – at Nu-Heat we are running a campaign that dramatizes the bizarre compromises that we all make when living with bad heating, and in doing so we are asking people to think about whether these daily concessions are acceptable.
This is only part of the story, however. As homeowners we also need to do our part by being open-minded to heating options that we might not yet have experienced or considered. A credible supplier will provide an honest assessment of the options available and their suitability for your home – something that is particularly important if you are renovating an existing property which will have been improved and updated over the years since the original heating system was installed. Increasing insulation levels or replacing draughty windows, for example, will make a massive difference to the building’s heat losses and heat demand. From retrofit underfloor heating to heat pumps, technology has also moved on apace, and you may find that replacing like-for-like is no longer the most efficient solution for your home.
2. Seek expert advice
A large proportion of us accept and live with inadequate heating. It’s crazy. Electric and LPG systems that cost too much to run. An oil boiler with wildly unpredictable running costs. Radiators that are too hot to touch, yet leave half of the room cold. With the right guidance from an ethical supplier and a helpful installer, many of these situations are avoidable. Why would any of us choose to pay for a heating system that just won’t work?
Suppliers and installers often hold a great deal of knowledge and experience, making them a great first port of call when considering heating options for your home. Exhibitions aimed at self-builders are also a great opportunity to meet a range of experts who can help you make the right choice for your home. They will be able to provide you with more detail on new products, controls, renewable technologies and their efficiency in comparison with other options. Use their expertise to be sure that you end up with an efficient heating system that is designed specifically for your home and suits your lifestyle. Make sure that you have the freedom to control the temperature of each room as you choose, and the flexibility to access accurate data about your energy usage.
At Nu-Heat, we will work with you to design the best heating solution for your property, ensuring it will perform as required.
3. Embrace the future
If one thing’s for certain, the future of heating will involve new technologies. You don’t need to become an expert, but make sure you don’t get left behind. Insist on the best and most efficient option for your home, one that caters for all of its unique characteristics, and doesn’t leave you settling for ‘one size fits all’, ‘rule of thumb’ or ‘that will do’.
Make the most of the resources available to research solutions for your home. Ask about new products. Read customer reviews. Take your supplier up on the offer of a site visit to discuss options for your home, in your home. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good supplier will support you every step of the way.
So, what is the future of heating in the UK? It should be – and needs to be – a future that gives the homeowner comfort and control, with systems that are cost-effective and much kinder to the environment. Zoned systems which can be individually and accurately controlled on a room-by-room basis to run at lower temperatures can make this a reality.
So let’s all play our part, by choosing designed and tailor-made systems that ensure home heating is reliable, accurate and a perfect fit for every property. And as homeowners we will reap the rewards of warm and comfortable homes with efficient and cost-effective heating systems.