High Efficiency Boilers to Reduce CO2 Emissions Thanks to Part L

High Efficiency Boilers to Reduce CO2 Emissions Thanks to Part L
by Tal Potishman

Introduced in 2005 the new Building Regulations Part L has changed the scene as far as boilers are concerned. According to the new requirement, all boilers replaced or installed must be of high efficiency rating. This includes condensing and combination boilers which utilize a larger heat exchanger (or a secondary heat exchanger) to recoup some of the heat that would normally be released into the atmosphere with the exhaust gases. Since some of the energy can be reused, the boiler can generate the same amount of heat with less fuel.

This new requirement raised the bar not only in terms of energy efficiency but also in terms of the quality of the service and installation. Since the systems are more integrated and work off each component more closely, it requires the system installer to have deep understanding of the power demand, both input and output of each component (such as the boiler, the heating controls, the radiators and the hot water cylinder).

Since Part L of the building regulation was introduced, domestic heating in the UK has seen a remarkable drop in the volume of carbon emissions that is generated annually. According to analysis conducted by the heating industry, a reduction of around 2.4 million tonnes of carbon was made since the new regulations were introduced. As a reference point, the analysis shows that if the industry did not adopt Part L and kept on relying on SEDBUK D rated boilers, the carbon emissions level would have increased by over one million tonnes since 2005.

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As things stand, there are massive opportunities to reduce the carbon emissions levels resulting from domestic heating in the UK. It is estimated that there are around four million old and inefficient boilers still in operation around the country. Replacing these boilers with a high efficiency A rated boiler would reduce the carbon emissions by around 30% per boiler. A typical UK household generates around 5 tonnes of CO2 annually. It is estimated that UK home heating accounts for approximately 16% of the total carbon dioxide emission for the UK as a whole.

The government is trying to encourage carbon reducing behaviour within the home heating sector. It has scrapped stamp duty for carbon neutral homes and has introduced the home information packs which have an energy performance certificate as part of the pack. However, the stamp duty benefit does not apply to the vast majority of inefficient homes around the country making it less effective. The home information packs (with their energy performance certificate component) also have drawbacks in that they are only produced when the house is sold, and thus not having enough of an impact at other times to encourage reduction in carbon emissions.

There are other ways to take proactive action on reducing carbon emissions from domestic heating sources. One of the most effective among them is the renewable energy route. The UK government has set a target of building 3 million new homes by 2020. It is estimated that if 10% of these new homes adopted renewable energy solutions (e.g. solar thermal) to supplement traditional heating solutions (such as gas boilers), the savings would be around 150,000 tonnes of carbon on a yearly basis.

There are several options for the government to reduce the carbon emissions from the UK housing stock and meet the challenging targets it set. It is important to note that any relevant plan would be met with a prepared and professional group of plumbing and heating companies that are investing in professional development and staff training for the new technologies.

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