No property is the same and all have different usage patterns, which directly effects efficiency. This means the way you control your heating is just as important as, if not more important than which boiler is chosen. However to make most use of efficient controls it is imperative that the person installing them has a full understanding of system design and heating theory.
How you control your heating system has a direct effect on energy efficiency, comfort levels and reliability. All buildings broadly fall into three types of usage patterns:
- Almost continuous occupation
- Interrupted occupation with a regular pattern
- Interrupted occupation with an irregular pattern
And further broken down in to two sub categories
- High occupancy
- Low occupancy
All this as well as your building structure will be taken in to consideration when designing your control strategy.
From all this information your Ecotechnician will select and advise on which strategy to choose, which may be any one of, or a combination of the following.
These are your typical wall thermostats and programmers that most people in the UK are used to. They are the absolute minimum standard of control set in the UK, and because of this, the vastly most installed. The pit fall of these controls are that they do not make enough use out of condensing gas boilers potential efficiency. However they do have their place, where the heat producing appliance does not benefit from operation at low temperatures, the property has low occupancy, and the usage pattern of the house is regular, however even then there may be benefits to using more intelligent controls.
Weather compensation controls enable a condensing boiler to work at its optimum efficiency. The controls allow the boiler to vary its operating flow temperature automatically, day by day to suit the weather outside and the temperatures inside the house, rather than heating up, overheating and turning off again (i.e. on-off controls).
Weather compensation works with a sensor outside and another in the boiler which continuously communicate with each other and vary the boiler’s flow temperature, rather than continuously turning the boiler on and off and wasting energy. The aim is to keep the temperature as low as possible so the boiler condenses for virtually all of its operating period. To get the most from weather compensation, radiator sizing and condensing theory are essential to understand.
OpenTherm is a communication protocol in which sensors can provide live feed back to the boiler so it can modulate according to load, this gives a very responsive system but if not set up correctly at the expense of its maximum potential efficiency.
Individual radiator control / multi zone
This will give you the potential to have multiple temperatures around the property, controlled by either zone valves or battery powered thermostatic radiator valves. It prevents rooms not in use being heated, and in turn saving wasted gas. It can be extremely efficient in properties of low occupancy, but regular usage patterns.
Modern technology also allows for fully automated systems, in some cases, looking at how far you are from home and your likely time to get back home. These controls are app based and ensure your house is at the desired temperature when you get home.
Please contact your local Ecotechnician for more information
This article was written by Adam Chapman of VitoEnergy Ltd