Hot and bothered
New rules mean hot water cylinders must hit a new minimum energy efficiency rating. But is this the right way to go in reducing energy consumption?
The Energy-Related Products Directive (ErP) is set to further tighten rules for the design of hot water cylinders by introducing a new energy efficiency rating. But will this support the industry in becoming more efficient or is it one step too far?
From September 2017, products must be labelled C at worst, with an additional new band of A+ to encourage manufacturers to further improve their products.
The maximum permitted heat loss for the most popular 210-litre cylinder will be 87W, equivalent to a cost of around 10p per day to the consumer.
All products sold after 26 September must be compliant to approach the 2020 target to reduce energy use by 20 per cent.
We asked industry experts what they thought about the new energy efficiency rating.
Alan Clarke, technical support manager at Heatrae Sadia
In 2014, efficiency measures were low, and the majority of hot water cylinders available were in a D or E band. At the time, this was not an issue. Over the last two to three years, these ratings have been viewed as increasingly inadequate, which has prepared manufacturers for the new rating.
The new rating is a good driver in increasing efficiency across the industry but, even though its arrival is no surprise, the design and redesign of products will still be challenging. Not only will it take time to ensure all products sit in band C or above, but it will also come at a cost to manufacturers. I imagine certain products will fall out of the supply chain completely.
Tim Pollard, head of sustainability at Plumb Center
This change will be transformational in terms of energy efficiency, but at what cost? There is only so much that can be done to make water heating more efficient, as it’s inherently inefficient, and one solution will not work for all. Pressure will be put on the manufacturers to ensure products are compliant, and on the installers to communicate the change to their customers.
Looking at the broader picture, to manage energy efficiency better, we could move focus from the efficiency of singular products to the overall energy output of households instead.
For example, if EPCs were used as a mandatory way of keeping household energy use at a minimum, whether households chose to triple-glaze, invest in better products or further insulate their homes, would be their decision. Manufacturers and installers would then demonstrate how they could help households meet the overall household rating set.
Paul Hull, managing director at Industria and co-founder of Gas Safety Superheroes
It’s important to get more joined-up thinking on what energy efficiency is. The focus should be on proper controls, ensuring temperature optimisation is used across all households. These new rules seem to place added pressure on the installer. History suggests that stickers on boilers don’t generate the action we, as an industry, need home owners to take.
We need to educate them on energy use as a whole, in a language they understand, sharing the benefits that will really matter to them. Consumers currently waste energy while trying to save it, turning boilers on and off at higher temperatures rather than having a consistent, lower temperature. The answer to many of our challenges lies in consumer education rather than installer responsibility, and I hope the ErP scheme can play a role in this.
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