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Learn your EPC from your ABC

Steven Evans, National Sales Manager at Potterton, explains why schools should have energy efficient boilers to boost their energy performance

Posted by Ed Brown | June 08, 2017 | Sustainability

Energy efficiency continues to be a major consideration for any organisation, with growing pressure from the government to reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills. Non-domestic buildings, including schools, account for nearly 25 per cent of the UK’s overall carbon emissions and heat in buildings accounts for a large proportion of this. As more schools are built and refurbished, the installation of energy efficient, cost-effective products therefore must be a top priority.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are a legal requirement upon construction, and in certain other circumstances, and assign a building efficiency rating on a scale from A to G. In addition, all public buildings with a total floor area of over 250 square metres, including schools and colleges, must have a Display Energy Certificate (DEC) which shows the efficiency rating. This certificate has to be displayed in a prominent place clearly visible to the public, with penalties in place for non-compliance. A poor DEC rating can have a negative impact on public perception of a building so it’s important to get it right.

Government figures show that more than half of schools are achieving band D or below, with secondary schools performing better than primary. As heating accounts for up to 60 per cent of total energy use in a typical school building, one way in which schools can improve their EPC and DEC rating is by switching to a highly-efficient condensing boiler.  

If you currently have a G-rating (with as low as 65% efficiency), upgrading to an A-rated boiler with around 92% efficiency is a no-brainer. Installing a new high efficiency boiler could make it easy to jump two bands – so if your school is currently G-rated, it would become E-rated, for example.

The initial cost of upgrading your heating system may seem daunting, however, the long-term savings on energy and fuel bills will make the investment in high-quality products worthwhile. 

Choosing the most efficient boiler is particularly straightforward these days thanks to the Energy Labelling Directive. The Directive applies to boilers and water heaters of up to 70kW and dictates that products should display a colour-coded energy label with a rating ranging from A++ to G according to their efficiency. The labelling system provides transparency for customers, enabling them to compare the energy credentials of all products on the market, based upon EU wide test standards.

For primary schools, where heating demand will be lower, a light commercial boiler, such as the A-rated Potterton Commercial Paramount four , should be adequate to meet the needs of the building users. In a secondary school or college, where hot water demand may also include showers for changing areas, a separate hot water cylinder or direct gas fired water heater may be required and a suitably sized boiler.

For schools with a larger demand for heat, it will be worth considering installing more than one boiler, so that they can run in sequence. By setting up the plant in this way, the boilers will share the load when they are all operational and should one unit need to be taken offline for repair or maintenance; the remaining units can take the load so there’s no break in heat delivery.

Aside from energy efficiency, facilities managers also need to ensure the boiler they choose is 100% reliable. Schools must be open five days a week so they need to be confident that their heating is up to the job. We would always advise managers to invest in a good quality boiler from a reputable manufacturer, and look for models with generous warranties for additional peace of mind.

The upcoming summer holidays present the perfect opportunity to make any upgrades so do your homework now so you can invest in a quality, reliable and highly-efficiency heating system that passes the test.

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