You might have spotted the recent Government announcements surrounding the future of home heating in relation to the UK’s Net Zero targets, and what can be done to improve existing system efficiency in the meantime. Remi Volpe, Managing Director at Drayton, discusses two new measures likely to be introduced; system balancing and the mandatory installation of thermostatic radiator valves, and how this can improve efficiency.
Interim additions to be aware of in Part L
Following the Future Homes Standard consultation, the Government announced a series of new measures expected to be introduced to Part L of the Building Standards. The consultation confirms that homes built from 2025 must be ‘zero carbon ready’ and deliver a reduction in carbon emissions of 75-80% versus those built to current standards. Given the scale of change required between now and 2025, the Government confirmed an interim uplift to Part L of the Building Regulations will take effect in 2021.
These interim standards will cover important areas, including improvement to minimum standards for heating systems in new build and retrofit applications, all geared towards increasing energy efficiency.
A key proposal is to introduce a new regulation in the Building Regulations 2010, which will mean existing domestic buildings must have thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) on radiators in every room when a heating appliance such as a boiler is replaced.
TRVs are hugely important for optimising heating system performance and reducing energy wastage, and help create a balanced system. This is an especially important factor as recent changes have been made to the Benchmark boiler commissioning checklist - which acts as documented evidence of correct boiler installation and servicing - requiring the system to be correctly balanced (or rebalanced) as part of any new boiler installation, in order to help set the standard across the industry.
Why is system balancing important?
System balancing is essential for domestic heating systems so that each radiator in the home receives an equal flow of hot water, helping to ensure optimum efficiency and maximise customer comfort.
If not balanced, customers may find that radiators furthest from the boiler don’t heat up to the desired temperature, as they won’t receive an adequate supply of hot water. In most cases, many homeowners will likely turn up their heating in an attempt to get these colder radiators up to temperature, however this results in radiators nearer the boiler overheating, as well as wasted energy.
How to balance a system easily
One of the easiest ways to balance a system is during the installation process using radiator valves. Many TRVs on the market are designed with this in mind, allowing installers to set the heat output of the radiator, which should be determined for each room based on expected heat loss.
As a manufacturer committed to improving the performance of heating systems across the country, Drayton already offers a solution that will help installers meet the new expected requirements of Part L and the Benchmark checklist. As well as its wide range of highly-efficient TRVs, like the popular TRV4, Drayton also offers a balancing key, which can be used to balance the system flow rates from the TRV and includes numbered indicators to easily identify which position the valve is in, with 1 being the lowest flow rate and 6 the highest.
Left: Drayton TRV4 Anthracite, the newest addition to the TRV4 range that enables system balancing from the TRV. Right: Drayton TRV4 Balancing Key, our quick and easy tool for balancing flow rate from the TRV.
Balancing flow rates from the TRV is reliable, accurate and is preserved across the system, preventing the risk of balancing being undone, and there’s no need for time-consuming and inaccurate balancing via lockshields. When using the Drayton balancing key, there’s also no requirement for installers to drain the system making it easier than ever to carry out this process, which should be done as standard practice.
Future-proofing heating systems
Since boilers are a carbon-hungry technology, these changes ensure they operate in the most optimal and energy-efficient way possible. These changes to regulations are paving the way for new technologies - like heat pumps - that will inevitability become our primary heat source once traditional gas boilers are phased out. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done to make the transition to low carbon heat sources a success.
It’s important that more heating engineers start expanding their knowledge of energy improving measures like TRV installations and system balancing, as both will be key in maximising the efficiency of heat pumps and other future heating technologies. Drayton is at the forefront of developing control technologies for the energy transition and welcomes the regulatory changes that will enable these technologies to develop and be deployed across the country, furthering the nation on its rapid journey to net zero.
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