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Regs changes spell doom for band B boilers

The October changes to Part L affect both new build properties and existing housing stock.

For new build, the efficiency bar goes even higher with the regulations effectively demanding a 25 per cent improvement in energy performance compared with a house built last summer.

For existing housing stock, the new regulations are even more prescriptive as installers are no longer able to specify B-rated condensing boilers. However, installers can continue to fit band B boilers until April 2011 providing the order was taken before 1 October 2010. The exception to this rule is oil-fired combination boilers.

To make it slightly more complicated, the 2009 Building Regulations have now come into force which means the SEDBUK bands are changing.

There will be two listings, SE DBUK 2005 and SE DBUK 2009. Under SE DBUK 2009, A-rated will no longer be classified as 90 per cent and above; instead it will become 88 per cent and above. What’s more the letters that promote the bands have been dropped, with installers being asked to promote the actual efficiency figure.

The government has offered some leeway by allowing band B, which going on the SEDBUK scale could be 5-6 per cent lower in its value or efficiency compared with an A-rated ­product.

This was probably a wise decision. Band B has served a purpose, allowing installers who were comfortable with less efficient technology to continue to install what they know and recognise.

When a band B is opened up installers see a familiar boiler with just a secondary heat exchanger in place to extract more heat. Band B boilers contained an atmospheric burner rather than the sophisticated pre-mix low emission burners of a typical A-rated product.

Currently, band B accounts for approximately 10-15 per cent of the UK boiler market, which is around 150-180,000 boilers a year. Often, these boilers are bought through DIY chains or internet merchants, as band B is a more competitively priced product than a band A boiler.

However, the European Commission is gradually setting the bar higher and higher in terms of what it expects in terms of energy efficiency with its Energy Using Products Directive.

Unfortunately band B boilers are a long way from meeting the criteria. The band B boiler has already begun to be phased out and any installer who still gets the majority of their work from installing band B should get themselves onto a manufacturer’s training course.

Once on a course, band B installers might be pleasantly surprised. Band A boilers can offer much more flexibility in terms of where the boiler can be sited mainly due to their greater flueing flexibility.

While things have changed following the changes implemented at the start of October, a good manufacturer will be able to offer all the help an installer needs to get up to speed.

Martyn Bridges is director of marketing and technical support for Worcester Bosch