Think Outside The Box To Make Energy Savings At Home
- Published: Tuesday, 01 April 2014 09:45
Turning down the thermostat by 1°C can cut household heating bills by 10%, according to the Energy Saving Trust. And switching off ‘on standby’ appliances could save almost £40 per year for a typical three bed flat.
There are, therefore, huge savings to be made if just a proportion of the 25 million or so householders in the UK adopted a greener approach to running their homes.
At grass roots level, however, these figures are academic. Most households have little interest in the bigger picture or changing their habits. They just want the best savings for the lowest investment and least fuss – and to remain warm and comfortable in their homes. The Green Deal supports standard improvements such as new boilers, loft/cavity insulation and double glazing. But there are a number of other ‘fit and forget’ energy saving approaches that offer good savings with little effort and no behavioral changes required.
British manufacturer Marshall-Tufflex has championed domestic voltage optimisation (Voltis Home) and boiler control units (Domestic Boiler Managers), both of which can make large dents in power bills. Voltis Home tackles electricity consumption and DBM takes on gas, oil or LPG. Both are quick-fit solutions suitable for new-build and retrofit that can be marketed by building contractors for installation by qualified electricians.
Domestic Boiler Manager
These units (which measure 177mmx12mmx37mm and take about 90 minutes for a qualified electrician to install and commission) control the firing cycle of boilers to deliver savings on heating and hot water bills. We quote savings of 20% (dependent on boiler usage patterns) but field trials in social housing properties returned savings of between 15% and 31% for tenants with reasonably normal usage patterns. One elderly resident, who required the heating on for long periods, recorded savings in excess of 61%.
Importantly DBM is Energy Saving Trust Recommended – only the most energy-efficient products are awarded this certification following testing by the trust to criteria set by an independent panel.
DBM controls a boiler’s firing cycle, reducing unnecessary dry cycling and in some cases cutting firing times by half. Data from electronic sensors fitted to the flow and return pipes of a heating system is used to vary the system temperature according to demand. This significantly reduces fuel wastage caused by temperature overshoot, heat saturation of the heat exchanger, flue losses and unnecessary cycling. Internal comfort levels are maintained and CO2 emissions reduced. Payback is typically 2-3 years. To further enhance the performance of DBM an external weather sensor can be used with heating-only or combi boilers.
For commercial installations, Marshall-Tufflex’s Commercial Boiler Manager is suitable for installation with single and linked pairs of boilers under a common header where the boilers’ output exceeds 30kW.
Domestic voltage optimisation
Voltage optimisation, domestic or commercial, is successful because UK Mains voltage can be high – in excess of 250V in some cases but often averaging 242V – and electrical equipment works most efficiently at around 220V. Marshall-Tufflex’s single phase domestic and three phase commercial VO solutions ‘optimise’ the incoming voltage to a lower level (ie 220Volts) allowing users to benefit from lower electricity bills and appliances/equipment that lasts longer because it is not over supplied with power.
Voltis Home differs from competitors in that it performs at higher electrical loads – it is rated up to 60Amps, approximately 13kW. This means that all circuits in a typical house can be connected with no need to separate circuits for electric showers, immersion heaters, cookers etc. This not only makes installation quicker, but also cheaper.
Marshall-Tufflex’s Jim Fletcher installed a Voltis Home unit in his own property, with it programmed to switch on/off every 24 hours. Electrical consumption was monitored throughout the trial. Voltis Home delivered an average power saving of 9.42%. Mr Fletcher said: “The unit was installed without fuss, requires no maintenance and the savings were made without any lifestyle changes to our daily routine.”
In another trial Voltis Home was installed with a Sinergy Pulse Plus data logger recording voltage, current, power factor, kW, kWh and kVAr readings every 15 minutes. Using data collected over a nine day period we can draw indicative assumptions. The kWh consumed when Voltis Home was in ‘Save’ mode were on average about 7% less than when it was in Mains supply mode. This test was conducted in a single occupancy household with markedly lower than average power consumption.
Voltis Home comes, as standard, with an automatic bypass function that kicks in should the Mains supply fall below around 220V (dependent on incoming voltage), switching the unit from ‘Save’ mode direct to Mains. This safeguards power supply to the property since to continue to lower the voltage further may result in some appliances/equipment cutting out.