An installer’s view on Boiler Plus legislation

Christopher Flaherty, owner of Vietec Heating, thinks the government’s new Boiler Plus legislation may be well intentioned, but in reality is a toothless law. Here, Chris considers at the weaknesses of Boiler Plus and what it really means for installers at the coal face.

We have a change to the Building Regulations coming up in April 2018 (see here for the full details HEAT IN BUILDINGS, Boiler Plus) from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

So is this some huge radical shake up that will change our industry? In my opinion, NO. In fact, to me they are well behind the real industry of installers at the coal face who have already been doing what they are proposing for years, so in fact as far as I am concerned, this legislation is just trying to catch up with what the good installers already do.

What is the new legislation calling for? Well, in simple terms it is saying when you install a combination boiler you must either add one of the following to the system to add more to the efficiency:

1.   Flue gas heat recovery system
2.   Weather compensation
3.   Load compensation
4.   Smart controls with automation and optimisation functions

Many, many installers around the UK have already been doing this for a number of years. These installers are the ones who are leading the industry, and it seems those who make the legislation are playing catch up – surely it should be the other way round.

Yet again, those who make the legislation are missing the bigger picture, same as the ErP missed the bigger picture. It’s all well and good fitting a new boiler and adding additional components to supposedly achieve higher efficiency, but the missing factor is insulation. If the property is poorly insulated, then the expense of new boiler and expensive controls is partially wasted by the additional heat loss due to poor insulation. Is it not time we worked together with insulation businesses and double glazing businesses to ensure the customer took the best option to save them energy, which in my opinion will not always be changing the boiler – sometimes it would be better and cheaper to improve the insulation to reduce heat loss and so reduce bills.

The other fact I am really struggling to get my head round, and so far I have not found anyone who can answer this question, is this new legislation of additional controls to improve efficiency is only for combination boilers. What about system boilers and heat-only boilers? OK, I understand that flue gas heat recovery is only for combination boilers hot water production, but the other controls will work just as well on these boilers, and I know most installers – including myself – already fit these controls with these boilers. But why have the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy missed these off for system and regular boilers? If you look at the chart below from HHIC it shows a simplified graph for the new Legislation:


Now, as you can see when you start, it asks the question, Is it a combi? If you answer ‘No’, it then asks, Does it have a timer and thermostat? If you answer ‘Yes’, then it says, ‘No Additional Components required’. If you answer ‘No’, then it says ‘central heating timer and thermostat to be installed with the boiler’. Really, this is supposed to be progress, so with a system boiler or regular boiler, we can just fit old fashioned ON/OFF controls, no weather compensation, no load compensation, no smart controls required. WHY are these boilers allowed to be installed without good modern controls? Do they think all we  fit are combination boilers – a boiler often used for convenience, not because it the best solution? Well we don’t. Can someone please explain to me why this has been missed?

The final point I would like to raise is, how will this be policed; will it become part of the notification procedure; or will it be, as usual, just bring in the legislation, let those who always abide by the regulations comply, but ignore those who just don’t care and always ignore everything, as they know, nothing will be done?

This was originally published on Chris Flaherty’s Vietec blog, which you can find by clicking here.
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