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Tall buildings lead the way on electric heat

For residential high-rise buildings, a central boiler plant is one of the more familiar ways of providing heating and hot water.

However, householders like to be in control of their own destiny when it comes to their heating and hot water needs, even in tall apartment blocks. In such cases, the provision of hot water needs to be treated as a separate entity for each individual dwelling, and point-of-use water heaters can offer the solution.

These provide instant hot water for showers, baths and taps and are highly suitable for different types of accommodation. There are many benefits to be gained from installing point-of-use water heaters in high-rise apartments.

No boiler plant room is required to house a separate water heating system and no hot water distribution or pumping equipment is required. In the event of the equipment failing, it will only have an impact on one property.

Metering is also easy and convenient to manage on a per household basis. Another advantage is that if an apartment is unoccupied, the equipment lies dormant waiting for the new householder and energy is not wasted on empty rooms.

Over the past few years, the demand for electric heating products for such applications has increased and more sophisticated products have been developed.

One of the main advancements has been electric wet central heating flow boilers designed to offer long life, reliability, end-user comfort and energy efficiency.

The need for space heating products for all-electric dwellings has also been rising. With one and two-person households making up a significant percentage of the UK housing market, developers have been encouraged to build a higher proportion of apartments, which are typically all-electric.

In recent years the number of new-build flats has increased - growing from 23,626 in 2000 to 56,823 in 2007.In multi-storey buildings, electric heating products are usually less problematic to install than mains gas appliances, as there is no requirement for flueing or the need to provide a gas supply to each individual dwelling.

There are generally few restrictions on the supply of electricity and no flueing, condensate drainage or plumbing issues either. In addition, electric heating offers simple maintenance, which is particularly important in social housing properties.

As electricity has become a more popular heating fuel, products have become more sophisticated and the inflexible, largely uncontrollable night storage heaters that electric heating was once associated with have largely disappeared.

There are now many options to consider. For example, electric wet central heating flow boilers have revolutionised the sector. They work in a similar way to gas-fired boilers and are used in conjunction with a conventional wet radiator or underfloor heating system.

They are controlled and operated by a programmer and thermostat; the units are usually compact and wall hung.
Recent reports have confirmed that the number of electric heating installations is on the increase, with some experts predicting that in 10 years’ time electricity could be the dominant heating fuel, particularly for tall buildings.

Jon Cockburn is head of marketing for Heatrae Sadia