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Rory Dale | Part 2: Efficiency through Energy System Control

In this article we hear from Rory Dale what to think about with regards to heating controls and boiler dimensions. Rory is an independent heating engineer based in South Birmingham. He has many decades' worth of experience in installing and repairing central heating systems, plumbing and servicing of gas appliances.

Why think about the control of a heating system?

Buying a home involves so many factors, all costly, so being advised to upgrade a heating system by a Specialist Engineer smacks of profiteering but many boilers in homes are running very inefficiently purely because they are oversized and incorrectly configured. There is always room for improvement.

Heating Technology has moved on very rapidly of late and sadly in this industry, Engineers are fitting boilers vastly oversized for the job they have at hand. Further fitting wireless controls – Room Thermostats and receivers – isn’t enough. Wireless controls are great, but it depends on what type.

Heating controls – what you should know

Problems with regular on/off thermostats

Most are unaware of the technology that can improve systems and save the customer far and away more money on ‘running costs’.

“Normal” Room stats are of ‘On / Off’ type. They bring the boiler on when required and that will stay on until the set temperature in the house is met. The Boiler goes off until the system cools down again, perhaps 10 – 15 minutes later and then fires up with the process starting again. As this happens a lot of Gas is consumed as it restarts. This can go on all day or Evening and Gas Consumption with an oversized Boiler can be substantial…also costly. It’s akin to driving a Juggernaut through London City centre at ‘rush hour’. A Juggernauts Fuel Tank would soon run low and so, with gas, consumption is high.

Fear not, there is a solution.

What is needed is a control and a boiler that will offer you, the prospective buyer, a means of total control over your heating and ultimately your purse strings. A relatively new standard called ‘OPEN THERM’, which I utilise on all my installs, is available and used in conjunction with a Boiler that offers the OPEN THERM standard makes for a perfect marriage! I install the NEST Controller in Conjunction with ATAG Boilers. The NEST is one of several ‘Special’ Programmable Thermostats. This is in my opinion the most versatile.

Benefits of NEST

The NEST can be controlled from within your Home or remotely on your Phones; you can set your Temperature and the Thermostat will modulate the burner flame down to anticipate the set temperature before you reach it instead of turning off at the higher burner rate. The NEST actually controls your Gas Rate. No more stop / start; no more Gas guzzling; no more gasps as you read your bill! Some of you reading this may well have a NEST fitted in your Home. In most cases it will be configured as an On / Off Room Thermostat. If your Boiler has the OPEN THERM capability, then you are missing out. You are well advised to seek advice to ensure the whole system is running efficiently.

What you should plan for

Shall I consider a new boiler?

If the Boiler in your prospective house is old 12 years or more, upgrade it. This will be a reasonable bargaining point. Find a reputable Company to quote and install this once the house is yours.

Heat loss calculation and boiler dimension

Your engineer should test the domestic hot water flow with a measuring cup and conduct a full heat loss calculation for every room in the house. Further he should check the gas supply and pressures. By doing the heat loss calculation he should know the requirement for every room and therefore accurately size the boiler. If he doesn’t do this you have a decision to make. It may not be a priority now, but it may well become your number one concern during a December week end.

Rory Dale is an Independent Heating engineer based in South Birmingham.

Rory Dale
Rodal Heating

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