Is a Heat Recovery System Right for me?
There’s no doubt that under the right circumstances a heat recovery system can produce great benefits for reducing the amount of heat and energy you use, recycling a significant percentage so that little goes to waste.
Whether your current building is suitable for such a change in technology will depend on what you are opting for. In a new build that is air tight, a heat recovery ventilation system can present significant savings and if you have a decent amount of garden space a ground source heat pump may well be the answer. The following advice applies equally to both domestic and non-domestic heat recovery systems.
Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems
The ventilation unit normally goes somewhere like the attic and pipes feed down into the individual rooms drawing out the stale are and replacing it with fresh. The way it works is to take the heat in the indoor air and pass it onto the new air coming in from outside. New builds are starting to come with this kind of technology ready and waiting, particularly where offices are concerned. Retro-fitting an older property is entirely possible but it comes with a big caveat – older houses are less airtight than newer ones and to get the best from a HRVS you really need to have any source of heat loss covered.
For most old buildings this is not entirely impossible but it demands a fair amount of extra investment. There are too many cracks and places where heat can escape that makes installing a ventilation system more or less economically unviable for a lot of people. If you have a newer property, however, then retro-fitting a ventilation system can save you a good deal on your bills.
Boiler Flue Economisers
Recovering the heat that is lost from your boiler is a simpler solution and you can achieve an efficiency of between 7 and 40% depending on the type you have installed. The way it works is that the economiser captures the lost heat and either transfers it to another tank or, more usually, transfers it back to the existing boiler so that it doesn’t have to work so hard to heat up new water.
They are generally easy to install and can benefit from the Green Deal and don’t require any additional electricity to run. Costs start around £1,200 but you will save on the amount of energy you need to use to heat the water and if you are on a water meter you should see a reduction in water usage too.
There are different kinds of heat pump that extract energy from the land, air or water outside to provide warmth for your home or business. As with any renewable heat recovery system you need to make sure that your building is insulated as best as it can be, as these technologies tend to operate at much lower temperatures than more conventional heating. Heat pumps also benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive and can earn your money back on your initial investment.
Before you consider a Heat Recovery System
Perhaps more than other renewable technologies, whether you opt for a heat recovery system depends on a good deal of thought before you take the plunge. Is your building airtight enough to benefit from something like a heat recovery ventilation system?
You need to check how green you are and what needs to be improved:
- Do you have cavity wall insulation?
- How much heat is being lost through the floor?
- Is your boiler lagged?
- Does your heating need an upgrade?
- Do you have the right grade of double glazing?
- How is your roof insulated?
It’s always a good idea to assess what your current situation is before you start installing any new heating system. Most houses that are either up for rent or available to buy now have to have an Energy Performance Certificate. If you don’t possess one for your property then it may well provide a valuable insight into how you can save more on your fuel bills.
What to do next
If your office building or home is suitable for something like a heat recovery ventilation system then the next thing you need to consider is how much it is going to save you on your energy bills. Judging the efficiency of any system is often difficult because there are a number of parameters that need to be taken into account such as the size of the rooms, the number and your existing heating system.
A number of heat recovery systems like HRVSs and boiler economisers are simply methods of reducing your bills. Heat pumps, on the other hand, can earn you extra money through the Renewable Heat Incentive. See Domestic RHI Scheme or Non-Domestic RHI Scheme.
One thing that you do need to consider when installing a renewable technology such as heat recovery is that energy costs are set to rise steadily over the next few years which means that anything which reduces your usage is going to be of some benefit.
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