It’s time to get smart about saving energy. Adjusting your heating controls can have the single biggest effect on the amount of energy you use in the home.
According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) heating controls that are intuitive to use can save up to 20 per cent of energy in the home.
They have two simple functions, firstly they act as the on/ off switch. Secondly they set the temperature. How well they perform depends when they turn the heating on and off and at what temperature.
The kind of house you live in will play an important role in your choice of heating controls. As a general rule, the older and more traditional the property and the heating system are, the more the controls should lean towards manual/programmable rather than smart.
A simple on/ off programmable control can often present the best method of adjusting internal temperature needs to match comfort levels required in older draughtier homes.
This can sound counter intuitive because an old draughty house would benefit from greater heating control but the smart systems are still not smart enough to account for the multitude of changeable weather conditions that play havoc with temperature control in older houses.
The algorithms in smart heating devices have a limited number of variables based on mimicking occupant preferences and then adjusting internal temperatures to suit. Hence the smart control system could potentially consume more energy as it reacts to every change in internal temperature scenarios.
The modern energy efficient home is better controlled by full smart systems because the indoor climate is less influenced and changed by outside weather conditions. Hence the thermal envelope, i.e. the building’s insulation and airtightness standards should be taken into account before selecting the type of new heating control upgrades.
A cost effective solution in an existing house that has some form of insulation and a compatible condensing gas boiler is to install weather compensation controls that monitor the weather outside via an outdoor sensor and adjusts the temperature of the hot water going to the radiators.
If the temperature outside drops then the radiators will run hotter, however if the outside temperature is milder, the control will tell the boiler or heat pump to supply less heat, boosting energy efficiency by up to 15 per cent and extending the life of your heat source.
As for grants, heating controls upgrade grants are available from the SEAI directly to a maximum value of €700. It’s worth checking with your energy supplier as they regularly have incentives for heating control upgrades. They can also provide them on a reduced rate monthly charge, which obviously locks in some customer loyalty and the company can claim energy credits associated with your energy savings.
Words: Paul O’Reilly