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Space Heating

Space heating is a vital aspect of comfort and energy efficiency in new build homes. From traditional radiators to innovative underfloor heating, ground and air source heat pumps, district heating systems, combined heat and power (CHP) units, gas boilers, and more, the choices for heating your home are diverse and advanced.

This page delves into the various space heating options available for new builds, highlighting key considerations, potential issues, and best practices for each heating system. Understanding these elements is crucial for homeowners to ensure their homes are not only warm and comfortable but also energy-efficient and sustainable.

 

Radiators

In new build homes, one of the common issues that can arise is related to radiators, specifically concerning the pipe work through plasterboard, which can lead to cracking and air leakage. These problems not only affect the efficiency of your heating system but also compromise the overall energy efficiency of your home.

Here’s what you need to know and what actions you can take:

Minimising Pipe Work Penetrations

When installing radiators, it’s advisable to bring the pipe work down to the centre of the radiator. This approach helps to limit the number of penetrations through the plasterboard, which is a common area for air leaks. Fewer penetrations mean a reduced risk of air leakage, which enhances the overall efficiency of your home’s heating system.

Using Proper Seals

To prevent air leakage to the outside, it’s crucial to use a proprietary radiator pipe seal. This seal should form an airtight barrier around both the plasterboard penetration and pipe exit points. A proper seal not only prevents heat loss but also protects the structural integrity of the walls by preventing cracks and damage caused by air pressure and moisture.

Correct Radiator Sizing

Ensuring that radiators are correctly sized for your home is another key aspect. An undersized radiator will struggle to heat a room effectively, leading to increased energy usage and costs. It’s important to consult with your building team or a heating specialist to determine the appropriate size of radiators for each room in your home.

By addressing these radiator-related issues, you can significantly improve the heating efficiency and comfort of your new build home. Remember, attention to these details during the inspection phase can save you from future discomfort and unnecessary expenses.

 

Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating (UFH) is a popular feature in many new build homes in the UK, offering a modern and efficient way to heat your home. However, there are specific issues that homeowners should be aware of to ensure their underfloor heating system operates efficiently. Here are key considerations and solutions for underfloor heating in new builds:

Adequate Insulation

One of the primary concerns with underfloor heating is insufficient insulation. Proper insulation is crucial as it ensures that the heat generated by the system is effectively utilised to warm the room, rather than being lost to the ground below. Ensuring that your underfloor heating is well-insulated will enhance its efficiency and effectiveness in heating your home.

Flooring Choices

The type of flooring you choose can significantly impact the performance of underfloor heating. For instance, installing carpet over underfloor heating can restrict heat flow into the room, reducing the system’s efficiency. When selecting flooring materials, consider their thermal conductivity and how well they work with underfloor heating. Ideally, choose materials that allow for optimal heat transfer.

Avoiding ‘Hot Spots’

Poor design and product substitution in underfloor heating can lead to uneven heating, known as ‘Hot Spots’. This not only affects the comfort of your home but can also be an indicator of inefficiency in the system. It’s essential to ensure that the underfloor heating is designed and installed by professionals who understand the nuances of its installation and operation. This includes selecting the right products and ensuring they are installed correctly to provide even and comfortable heating throughout the room.

In summary, for effective underfloor heating in your new build home, focus on proper insulation, make informed choices about flooring, and ensure the system is designed and installed to prevent ‘Hot Spots’. Paying attention to these details during the construction and inspection phases can enhance the comfort and energy efficiency of your new home.

 

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs) are an environmentally friendly and efficient way to heat new build homes in the UK. However, to ensure their optimal performance, there are certain pitfalls to avoid and best practices to follow. Here’s what you need to know about GSHPs in your new home:

Managing Flow Rates

Incorrect flow rates for radiators or underfloor circuits can significantly impair the efficiency of a GSHP system. It’s important to have accurate flow rates to ensure that the heat is evenly and effectively distributed throughout your home. Inaccurate flow rates can lead to uneven heating and increased energy usage.

Insulation of Pipework

Poor insulation on pipework is another common issue that can hinder the performance of GSHPs. Adequate insulation ensures that heat is retained within the system and delivered effectively to the intended areas in your home. This not only improves efficiency but also reduces energy wastage.

Control Settings

Complicated controls set at high temperatures (above 45°C) can lead to inefficiencies. GSHP systems work best at lower temperatures over longer periods, so setting your controls correctly is crucial for maintaining comfort while keeping energy consumption in check.

Air Trapped in the System

If the heat loop is not filled completely, trapped air can reduce the system’s performance. It’s vital to ensure that the system is properly filled and air-free to maintain its efficiency and longevity.

Minimising Pipe Runs

Long pipe runs for the ground array can result in high energy demands for the pump, reducing the overall efficiency of the system. Designing the system with shorter pipe runs can help minimise these energy demands, making the system more efficient and cost-effective.

In conclusion, when considering a GSHP in your new build home, focus on accurate flow rate management, proper insulation of pipework, user-friendly control settings, a fully-filled and air-free system, and minimised pipe runs. These steps will help you get the most out of your Ground Source Heat Pump, ensuring a comfortable and sustainable home environment.

 

Air Source Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) are an increasingly popular heating option in new build homes in the UK due to their energy efficiency and eco-friendly credentials. However, to maximise their effectiveness and avoid common pitfalls, there are specific considerations that homeowners should be aware of. Here’s an overview of key factors related to ASHPs in new builds:

Correct Setting of Output

ASHPs should be set to operate effectively under design conditions (typically below 0°C), rather than average conditions (e.g., 7°C ambient). Incorrect settings can lead to inefficiencies and underperformance, especially during colder periods.

Flow Temperature Settings

It’s crucial to set the maximum flow temperature realistically. A common mistake is setting it at 35°C flow instead of a more practical 55°C. This affects the heat output and the overall comfort in your home.

Space for Ventilation and Access

The outdoor unit of the ASHP needs sufficient space for ventilation and access. Lack of space can make the unit vulnerable to damage and power outages. It should be located in a protected area, away from windows, with ample space around it for air supply and maintenance.

Heat Emitters and Perception of Heat

Installing large radiators instead of underfloor heating can lead to a perception of low air temperature, as radiators with ASHPs do not feel as hot as those with traditional boilers. Underfloor heating is preferred with ASHPs as it works more effectively at lower temperatures, providing consistent and comfortable heating.

Effective Commissioning

Poor commissioning of ASHPs can lead to high energy bills, often resulting in reliance on supplementary heating like immersion heaters. Proper commissioning ensures the system runs efficiently, providing the necessary warmth at lower costs.

Simple Control Strategy

The control strategy for the ASHP should be simple and tailored to the user’s patterns. Complicated controls can lead to improper use and reduced efficiency.

Qualified Installation

Ensure that any installer of the ASHP is registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). This guarantees that the installation meets the required standards and is carried out by a qualified professional.

By addressing these key aspects, homeowners can ensure that their Air Source Heat Pump operates efficiently, providing comfortable and sustainable heating in their new home.

 

District Heating

District heating is an efficient and sustainable way of providing heat to new build homes, especially in larger developments or apartment complexes in the UK. However, to ensure optimal performance, there are several potential issues that homeowners and builders should be aware of. Here’s an overview of key considerations for district heating in new builds:

Insulation of Pipework and Heat Interface Units (HIUs)

One of the primary issues with district heating systems is poorly insulated pipework and HIUs. This can lead to significant heat loss and inefficiencies. It is essential to insulate the pipework to high standards to prevent heat loss and overheating, especially in common areas of the building. Ensuring that the HIUs are also well-insulated is crucial for maintaining the efficiency of the system.

Coordination of Boiler Flues

In the case of district heating systems that involve individual boilers, the flue can create coordination and planning issues. It’s important to plan the flue installation at an early design stage to ensure it fits well within the building’s architecture and does not cause problems later.

Sizing of HIUs

Another common problem is the undersizing of HIUs, which can lead to underheating and inefficient operation. The size of the HIU needs to be appropriate for the flat or house it serves. Incorrect sizing can impact not only the heat supply but also the efficiency and operational costs.

Temperature of Flow and Return

The temperature of flow and return should be managed carefully. Excessively high temperatures (80-60°C) can lead to inefficiencies and increased costs. It’s important to ensure that the system is designed and operated at optimal temperatures for maximum efficiency.

Location of HIU

The location of the HIU within the flat is also a factor. If it’s too far from the flat entrance, it can cause issues with heat distribution and maintenance access. The placement should be strategic to ensure effective operation and ease of maintenance.

By addressing these issues, district heating can be a highly efficient and effective solution for heating new build homes. It requires careful planning, quality materials, and proper installation to ensure it delivers the expected benefits in terms of efficiency, comfort, and sustainability.

 

Combined Heat and Power

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems are an innovative solution for providing both heat and electricity in new build homes, particularly in larger developments. However, to ensure their efficiency and effectiveness, it’s essential to address certain key factors during their design, installation, and maintenance. Here’s a focused summary for new home buyers on CHP systems:

Accurate Metering

One of the main challenges with CHP systems is the lack of accurate metering. This can make it difficult to assess how efficiently the plant is operating and where energy is being distributed. Accurate metering is crucial for monitoring performance and identifying areas for improvement.

Commissioning and Seasonal Adjustment

Poor initial commissioning and the absence of seasonal commissioning can significantly affect the performance of a CHP system. It’s vital to ensure thorough commissioning by a third party and to review the system’s performance after one year of use. Seasonal adjustments help in adapting the system to changing weather conditions, ensuring consistent efficiency throughout the year.

Operating Temperatures

High operating temperatures can reduce plant efficiency and increase operational costs. Designing the system for optimal flow (around 70°C) and return (around 40°C) temperatures can enhance efficiency and reduce energy wastage.

Pump and Flow Control

Poor pump and flow control can lead to systems being “always on”, which results in unnecessary energy consumption and increased heat loss. A well-designed system should have efficient control mechanisms to ensure it operates only when needed.

Sizing and Modulation

The size of the CHP system should be as small as possible, with the ability to modulate to about 40% of its capacity. This ensures that the system can adjust its output to meet the actual demand without being overly large, which can lead to inefficiencies.

Electrical Base Load Management

For optimal performance, it’s advisable to have a continuous electrical base load, utilising a private wire network where possible. This helps in maintaining the balance between heat and power production, maximising the system’s efficiency.

By considering these aspects, homeowners can ensure that their CHP system is not only environmentally friendly but also cost-effective and reliable. Proper design, installation, and regular maintenance are key to harnessing the full benefits of Combined Heat and Power in a new build home.

 

Gas Boilers

Gas boilers remain a common and effective heating solution in many new build homes in the UK. However, to achieve the best efficiency and performance from a gas boiler, certain issues must be addressed. Here’s a concise guide for homeowners about gas boilers in new builds:

Correct Boiler Sizing

A common problem with gas boilers is oversizing. An oversized boiler will not condense properly, leading to reduced efficiency. It’s crucial to correctly size the boiler for your home to ensure optimal efficiency. The right size depends on your home’s heating and hot water demands.

Managing Return Temperatures

High return temperatures can also reduce a boiler’s efficiency. The design and installation of the heating system should aim for lower return temperatures to enhance the boiler’s condensing efficiency.

Compatibility with Controls

Ensure that the boiler is compatible with modern controls, such as weather compensation and delayed start thermostats. These controls adjust the heating output based on external temperatures and user settings, improving efficiency and comfort.

Flue Gas Heat Recovery

For combi boilers, consider integrating flue gas heat recovery (FGHR) systems. FGHR systems increase hot water efficiency by using the waste heat from flue gases to preheat incoming cold water. This can lead to significant energy savings and improved system efficiency.

Boiler Modulation

It’s important that the boiler can modulate to a low enough level to be compatible with low flow outlets. This ensures that the boiler can adjust its output based on the actual heat demand, avoiding wasteful overproduction of heat.

FGHR Efficiency

FGHR can enhance a boiler’s efficiency significantly. By capturing and reusing the waste heat from the boiler’s flue gases, it raises the temperature of the incoming cold water, reducing the energy required to heat it to the desired level.

By considering these factors, homeowners can ensure that their gas boiler operates at its most efficient, providing comfortable heating and hot water in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner.