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Don't get caught out by ErP

Chris Meir, Sales Director at Remeha, explains why when it comes to boiler replacements, it pays to plan ahead

Posted by Hannah Vickers | August 20, 2017 | HVAC & lighting

The UK is negotiating its departure from the European Union but all EU legislation will continue to apply in the UK until after Brexit, which is formally set for March 2019. So, schools should note that new EU legislation concerning space heating is due to be enforced next year under the Ecodesign of the Energy-related Products Directive (ErP).

But first, a recap. It’s nearly two years since tighter ErP energy efficiency requirements came into effect for all space heaters, including boilers, up to and including 400kW. Effectively, the regulations have made it mandatory to install condensing boilers in all small and medium-sized new build and replacement projects.

The one exception to date has been the direct, like-for-like replacement of non-condensing pressure jet boiler shells or burners which were initially out of scope of the regulation to enable spares provision. However, from 1st January 2018, the window of opportunity to replace burners or shells for old-style pressure jet boilers below 400kW closes.

From 26th September 2018, maximum NOx emissions of 56mg/kWh will be enforced for gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) boilers and 120mg/kWh for oil-fired boilers up to 400kW.

So, what are the implications for school estates managers? With new build developments, the focus should be on ensuring that only ErP-compliant high-efficiency low NOx heating products are specified and installed.

The same is true for refurbishment projects. However, it is probable that ErP compliance will necessitate a switch of technology and/or fuel supply to a cleaner, more efficient heating alternative. And so, on these projects where like-for-like replacement of existing boilers is no longer possible, it pays to plan ahead.

Mulberry School for Girls_Remeha Gas 310s

In practice, the ErP 2018 regulations are likely to continue the drive towards condensing boilers. With the latest models achieving near maximum efficiency levels and NOx emissions at or below 40mg/kWh, condensing boilers easily comply with all ErP requirements. Crucially, for off-grid schools looking to switch to a more sustainable fuel source, advanced condensing boiler models are also certified for operation on LPG.

Switching to condensing boiler technology can and should be seamless – but like most things, it benefits from forward planning. So, where to begin? A good starting point is to arrange a manufacturer site visit, during which they can assess the boiler plant, identifying any future challenges and presenting the most appropriate solutions.

By planning ahead, estates managers have the chance to select the most appropriate equipment and accommodate it within the budget

By planning ahead, estates managers have the chance to select the most appropriate equipment and accommodate it within the budget. With time on their side, they can factor in fundamental design elements – like flueing and condensate arrangements, or the change of fuel source – to ensure a smooth installation process.   

Implementing a rolling boiler replacement programme might be the best option in schools with multiple plant rooms to ensure a reliable, efficient heating service. As phased replacements can be carried out in a live environment, they further reduce inconvenience and downtime.

Proactive boiler replacement also helps estates managers reduce the risk of being caught out by an emergency situation. This is particularly important in schools, as without heating and hot water the school must close.

Any legislation that sets out to reduce energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions from heating is to be welcomed. According to EU predictions, refurbishment projects can expect a 20% reduction in energy costs when upgrading to ErP-compliant equipment – heartening news for schools in these straitened times. Achieving cleaner, more reliable heating provision also helps reduce the school’s carbon footprint while generating a more comfortable and productive learning environment for its students and staff.

The good news is that with the ready availability of condensing boilers, backed by knowledgeable support from manufacturers, the tighter requirements of ErP and its significant benefits are entirely achievable. It just pays to plan ahead.

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