A host of new efficiency requirements will be mandatory from today for new combi boilers, posing challenges around enforcement, training and defining the direction of further innovation
Boiler Plus standards have come into effect today and will outline revised energy efficiency and technical requirements for any new combi boilers being fitted. Key industry bodies claim the standards represent the most significant overhaul of gas boiler standards in the UK since 2005.
Stakeholders from across the industry that have played a role in helping shape the standards via government consultation welcomed the introduction of Boiler Plus at a special launch seminar held in London today. However, they have argued that significant work is needed on enforcement of the standards, as well as ensuring sufficient education for installers and consumers.
Another important consideration identified was in understanding future areas of innovation that may be the focus of any further potential revisions of regulations, teased as ‘Boiler Plus Plus’.
Three key changes are being introduced as part of Boiler Plus that include requiring any new appliances fitted in homes across England to have a minimum performance standard for seasonal space heating of at least 92 per cent based on the European Energy Related Products (ErP) Directive. The directive is devised to curb reliance on a range of products that contribute high levels of carbon emissions throughout Europe.
Additional requirements of the new standards will be to ensure time and temperature controls are fitted to all gas and oil boiler installations from today. Existing controls in situ can however be retained.
Another core requirement of the standards will be that any new combi boiler installations must include an additional energy efficiency measure either in the form of weather compensation, load compensation, or Flue Gas Heat Recovery. Smart controls with automation functions are also an option for installers.
Adapting to changing technology
Aaron Gould, a senior policy advisor with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), argued that the introduction of Boiler Plus would ensure technical standards were sufficiently updated to reflect technological advances in heating and eco-policy changes over the last few years.
Mr Gould argued that a key aspect of the standards was ensuring flexibility around potential options consumers could chose for their homes.
He added that this would prevent pushing a one-size-fits all approach on industry over how it must look to cut carbon emissions in domestic gas heating.
He added that further feedback was still being received on the back of the publication of the final Boiler Plus standards last year. The standards were set out alongside the release of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, which outlined a broad national approach to cut down carbon emissions across the UK up to 2050.
Mr Gould said that BEIS was confident that the new standards ensured boiler technology was as efficient as currently possible, adding there were no plans for a second Boiler Plus to be devised.
He said that BEIS has discussed potential amendments that could possibly be put forward as a “Boiler Plus Plus” initiative to push for further changes to heating.
Mr Gould said, “There are things we could do, but we have come pretty close to the limits of what we can do with the efficiency of a boiler. So we don’t have plans to raise those standards further, but given the opportunity, we could extend them so that energy saving measures apply to all gas boilers and not just combis.”
A more comprehensive evaluation of the Boiler Plus standards is then expected to be undertaken in five years to look at the impacts on carbon reduction and energy costs facing consumers.
Andrew Keating, chairman of the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) and marketing director with manufacturer Baxi, said that Boiler Plus had been introduced after years of debate and industry engagement over how to better decarbonise gas appliances.
He argued that the implementation marked the next and most significant change to standards for manufacturers since it was made mandatory in April 2005 for all new or replacement gas boilers to be condensing models.
Mr Keating said that the final standards were the result of reaching a broad industry consensus on how to best meet requirements for more efficient gas boiler operations in line with wider carbon reduction strategies.
He added, “From a HHIC point of view, the broader industry is now determined and focused on how to make this happen and lead this change through with a lot of commitment around the role of training centres.”
Phillip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust organisation, said he also welcomed the introduction of Boiler Plus, even with a number of challenges remaining around educating and making consumers aware of the options available to them to improve efficiency in heating their homes.
However, he stressed that compliance and enforcement of the standards would be a vital consideration to ensure sufficient change across the industry to meet the government’s carbon aims.
Mr Sellwood said, “It’s all very well launching these initiatives, but it’s really, really important that the industry ensures the standards are enforced and complied with. If I tell you that last year, there wasn’t a single prosecution for any activity in terms of thermal efficiency and a failure to meet building regulations.
“Now either we all believe we are angels or something is not fundamentally working. I would like to think that the industry is going to grip this opportunity and show other industries and government that actually, they are up for this and ensure scompliance so we do not get into a situation of further mandatory requirements.”