Boiler Plus April 2018 Energy Saving Measures Pro’s & Con’s

25 Apr. 2019

Written by Neil Marsh MCIPHE RP RHP EngTech

As already covered here, changes were made in Apr 2018 making further additions to new, oil mains gas and LPG  boiler installations… At present, a boiler installer has four options at their disposal to satisfy the requirements of Boiler Plus when installing a new boiler. We wish to discuss the pro’s and cons of these options so that you the consumer can understand how these may affect you and your central heating system. 

For people who are within our service area and would like advice on, or a new boiler installation in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury or the surrounding areas, we can be contacted with the details we provide at the top and bottom of this page. 

Load Compensation Controls 

These controls are part of such things as programmable thermostats which are made by the manufacturer of the boiler and are designed to interface with a particular model or range of models. 

As these controls must interface with the boilers electronic system directly, they are currently and likely to remain a product that is supplied by the manufacturer only. 

They work by adjusting the output of the boiler based on the indoor temperature(s), therefore keeping the boiler running at lower temperatures and a lower “rate” wherever possible, such as when the property is almost at temperature. This should reduce cycling from the boiler and prevent the boiler from running at a high rate as often, therefore reducing fuel wastage.

The main disadvantages of this option are the manufacturer’s controls are typically more expensive than most generic/alternative versions and that the choice is usually limited. For people who struggle with complicated controls, depending on how the manufacturer has designed their control(s), they may not be easy to use. Also, how reliable they are will vary.

It will take time to show if a particular control is a good value for money as few are tried and tested on a large scale. The payback time will depend on the controls cost, but likely to be one of the better options in this regard in a typical property.  

Weather Compensation Controls

These controls are similar to above, but instead of measuring internal temperatures, they use an external sensor to measure external temperatures and adjust the output of the boiler based on what is going on outside. Like above these controls interface with a particular model or range of models. 

The controls are generally cheap. However, problems can exist from their installation. The controls available at present need to be installed in a position that is not affected directly by the sunlight, typically this means on a north to west facing wall. For many properties, this will not be possible or may cause increased installation costs. Baxi does have a version which works with horizontal flues which fit underneath the flue and can be used in all directions on its current range of boilers which reduces installation complications. 

Where these controls are not installed correctly, it is likely that they will be affected negatively by external factors, such as sunlight. We expect this to be a regular problem moving forward. 

There is a requirement to set heating curves from the versions we have witnessed at present. This means that there is further room for error from installers as if they set the curve too low, the property may fail to heat up correctly when cold, but if they set it too high the efficiencies will be reduced. 

Our experience with this option is that it can work well for well designed completely new heating systems, but may cause performance issues with existing system boiler replacements where radiators are undersized. 

Our main gripe is that is just another thing to go wrong with a boiler as it is overly complicated, and as a result, we expect more faults from boilers over the years to come. We do expect the return on savings to be quick with this device when installed and set correctly, but only time will tell if the reliability of the device and its impact on repair costs. 

More information about weather compensation can be found by clicking here. 

Heat Recovery Devices

These work by collecting heat from the flue and using it to pre-heat the mains water supply into the boiler. It reduces the amount of heat the boiler needs to use to raise the mains water to tap/draw off temperature. 

There are several issues with these devices, the first being cost. They are very expensive and often cost several hundred pounds to buy. The next problem is space, they often need considerable space at the top of the boiler which is often impractical and not aesthetically pleasing. Finally is the payback time. It will depend on your hot water consumption and it could take several years for these devices to recover their initial cost.  Outside of this, generally they are very robust and do reduce the energy required to heat hot water 

Heat Recovery Devices

This covers a very large range of controls. The product we fit as standard, the Danfoss TPOne, is a very effective control that has built in automation and optimisation, and also has a model that can be connected to remotely. 

However, many smart controls, particularly those controlled from a device such as a computer or a phone add a dimension of additional problems that can go wrong with a heating system. 

We have covered this in more detail here. 

Not only can these options be expensive at present,  there is a likelihood that they will reduce your heating systems reliability (raising costs elsewhere) and the savings they make will ultimately depend on the user and how the use such controls.

For an average user who uses the controls correctly, we would expect the savings from these controls to be negligible when compared to a standard programmable room stat that is also used correctly, which can be purchased considerably cheaper. 

When you need a new boiler in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and the areas around and you want honest and professional advice, contact us!