Additional standards for heating controls come into effect this year and installers need to be prepared for their introduction, says Colin Timmins.

The coming year should see some significant changes to the heating controls that are installed when replacing a boiler. While most installers recognise the benefits that controls will bring to their customers by ensuring the long term delivery of better comfort and low running costs, it is also realistic to recognise that many installations are carried out to cost pressure, which can often result in only the minimum standards being adopted.

It is therefore encouraging that the government has been reviewing the minimum standards that are currently in place under Part L of the Building Regulations and that moves are afoot to strengthen these requirements.

Following the publication of the Heat in Buildings consultation response last October, the UK government published amendments to the 2013 Domestic Building Services Compliance Guide that will come into force on the 6 April 2018.

One of the key changes is that the compliance guide now states that “when replacing a boiler, the boiler controls are considered to be a part of the boiler installation and should therefore meet the standards set out in the relevant sections of this document”.

This is a small but very significant change, as previously it stated that only the component being replaced (i.e. the new boiler) would have to comply with the guidance.

Installers will now have to ensure that the system meets minimum standards for boiler interlock, time and temperature control, as they would for a new system. This was generally accepted as a requirement by industry and building control in the current Building Regulations, but it is good that this is now more clearly stated.

When installing a combination boiler (both new and replacement) you should also install one of the following:

  • Flue gas heat recovery

  • Weather compensation

  • Load compensation

  • Smart thermostat with automation and optimisation.

It is likely that the additional options above could lead to some head scratching, given that none of them are currently widely applied in UK homes.

Of course this is to be expected as government is trying to encourage new technologies, but BEAMA will be working to provide guidance to help installers select and install the right solutions and, importantly, to make sure that the use of these technologies leads to greater energy efficiency.

One piece of work currently underway is a cross-industry review of definitions to make sure there is sufficient clarity for specifiers, installers and market surveillance authorities, ready for when these requirements come into force.

BEAMA will of course be updating its practical guide for complying with these regulations by April.

One of the concerns that BEAMA had with the Heat in Buildings consultation response was that, while it highlighted the importance of thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs), it fell short of mandating these as a requirement (rather than just ‘good practice’ as currently) when boilers are replaced.

This could be about to change though, as just before Christmas there was agreement in Europe on the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

This agreement for the text included new requirements for individual room temperature controls, such as TRVs, to be installed in both new buildings and when boilers are replaced in existing properties.

At the time of writing the final text has yet to be confirmed, but it is expected that this will be something similar to: “In existing buildings, the installation of self-regulating devices to individually regulate the room temperature shall be required when heat generators are replaced, if technically economically and functionally feasible.”

Colin Timmins is Heating & Ventilation Portfolio Manager at BEAMA