< News | 28.12.2014

Beama heating controls group

Beama heating controls group

Taking Control


Helping both policy-makers and householders understand the potential energy savings that can be achieved through the effective use of controls is a core focus for the BEAMA heating controls group, says association director Colin Timmins


The BEAMA heating controls group represents manufacturers of controls for domestic heating and hot-water systems. The group is active in policy-making, standards and directives in the UK and worldwide, and is dedicated to advancing heating controls for domestic installations to ensure a comfortable environment at the least cost.

The association director for the BEAMA heating controls group is Colin Timmins, who has been with BEAMA since 2007. Having started his career as a building services engineer, he has spent 20 years focusing on sustainable energy in the public and private sector and worked for the Energy Saving Trust for eight years, establishing its energy advice service and consumer behaviour change strategies.

Timmins has faced a number of challenges since he joined the organisation. “One of the first challenges I faced emerged out of the initial proposals from
the European Commission for the ecodesign and energy labelling of boilers,” he recalls. “This posed a serious threat to the UK heating industry by significantly distorting the market away from the current situation, where competent installers combine different
products to provide systems that suit the property
and the householder’s needs, towards a more
packaged approach.

“Fortunately we were able to identify the threat quite quickly and liaise with both the commission and UK government representatives to ensure that a more appropriate approach was adopted. This effectively demonstrated how a trade association can offset problems for their members by being proactive in identifying and working to resolve problems.”


Energy saving

Timmins argues that, given that there is an overarching drive in both UK and EU policy to reduce carbon emissions, heating controls should be at the forefront of this as an inherently energy-saving technology. Yet one of the biggest challenges the body faces is to convince policy-makers and consumers of exactly how important they are.

“Upgrading heating controls is now the major cost-effective energy-saving measure for most households to focus on, now that most lofts and cavity walls are insulated, and regulation means that you automatically get a more efficient boiler when your current one is replaced,” he says. “The latest government data shows that around half of all UK homes with a gas or oil boiler still don’t have either a room thermostat or thermostatic radiator valves.”

So how does the industry go about educating installers and consumers? “Heating controls are a requirement in the building regulations when a new heating system is installed or a boiler replaced, and at BEAMA we have worked with government to improve these standards,” says Timmins. “This involves not only lobbying for the highest possible standards to ensure that householders end up with systems that consume less energy, but also helping to ensure that the guidance is clear for installers and end-users, to end some of the ambiguity that there has been in the past.”


Collaborative approach

The BEAMA heating controls group will be working with other players in the heating industry to communicate the benefits of heating controls to householders this winter. “We need to make sure that people talk to their installer for advice on how to get their controls to a level where they are able to manage their energy use effectively, reduce waste heat and save money,” explains Timmins. “It still seems incredible that most householders don’t realise that their boiler is by far the biggest user of energy in the home, accounting for over two-thirds of the average household’s energy bills.”

The group has also been active in working with the University of Salford to carry out tests on heating controls in its Energy House facility. “The independent research that has resulted from this activity show the true energy savings that can be made from controls and is vital to help inform government policy,” says Timmins. “Most strikingly, the tests have shown that the cost of running a boiler can be reduced by 40 per cent through the addition of a room thermostat and TRVs, or over 50 per cent if a high-efficiency thermostat is used.”

One of the big areas of debate is the issue of so-called “smart controls” and what these can offer in the way of further savings. “As the BEAMA heating controls members are at the forefront of developments in advanced controls to deliver optimum efficiency and comfort, they are obviously extending their range to include smart technology which can offer real advantages in certain situations,” says Timmins.

“However, we recognise that an appropriate balance must be struck with the promotion of more conventional controls, which will continue to offer significant benefits to large numbers of householders.”


Taking control

“Control your home” is an industry-wide campaign led by BEAMA’s heating control group, which aims to show householders how they can make their systems more effective.

“We know that half of all UK homes with a gas or oil boiler still don’t have either a room thermostat or thermostatic radiator valves, or both, so it’s a massive opportunity for people to cut their bills and keep their home at a comfortable temperature,” says Colin Timmins, association director for the BEAMA heating controls group. This could save households more than £250 a year, he says.

“It’s a great opportunity for the industry as well,” he adds. “Control upgrades can be done at any time – not just when a boiler is being replaced – and wireless controls make the job quick, clean and involve minimal disruption for the householder, overcoming their concerns about damage to décor or walls.”

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The reduction in energy bills that can be achieved by fitting room thermostats and TRVs


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