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Do you know your optimisers from your optimisation?

With so many new devices and gadgets out there, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of confusion about which are genuine money savers, and which are nothing more than clever marketing material.

We’re not here to act as Mythbusters when it comes to these new technologies, but we can tell you which products have been tried and tested to make improvements on your SAP and Energy Performance Certificate ratings.

A good example of this is waste water heat recovery. It’s essentially a piece of pipe which forces used, hot water to run past incoming cold water, preheating it and therefore saving energy. As they don’t cost the earth, more and more developers are including them in their designs.

But quite often this information isn’t reaching the SAP assessors; probably because the developers aren’t aware that SAP is now designed to take waste water recovery into account, and will give you a better rating if you are using one.

Along a similar line is flue gas heat recovery which captures waste heat from the boiler flue and uses this energy to preheat the incoming water. Again, this can be used to make your SAP assessment better, but only if you tell your assessor that you’ve bought one!

Other devices claim to save you energy, but are not included in the SAP assessment and therefore won’t show a benefit on your carbon emissions figures.

These include voltage optimisation – a little box which is wired into your electric supply and lowers the mains voltage which in theory will reduce the total kilowatt hours. This is not included in the calculations, so won’t make any difference to your EPC.

Some manufacturers of electric panel heaters are now claiming that their models are more efficient and use clever technology to cut your fuel bills. This may be the case, but SAP sees all panel heaters as alike, so your EPC will be the same whether you buy a top of the range model, or whether you buy the cheapest of plug-in heaters.

White goods don’t play a part in SAP but they do in the Code for Sustainable Homes assessment; ENE5 awards you extra credits if you install A+ rated fridges and A rated washing machines. ENE4 gives you credits if energy display devices are used, with extra credits available if the device measures both electricity and gas readings.

The definition of low energy lighting can be confusing. Just because the packaging has a hint of green to it and a picture of a tree, doesn’t make it low-energy. Low energy lighting should produce at least 45 lumens per watt. Despite some clever wording on the boxes, I haven’t seen a single halogen or tungsten bulb which has been tested to meet this target. We recommend that all new lighting systems should be fitted with LED or fluorescent equivalents.

If you’re working on new build developments and you need advice on which devices are best at meeting your building control requirements, contact our Technical Support Team. .. we don’t recommend particular brands, but if there’s a gadget that can help your SAP rating, we’ll know about it!    

Jon Ponting

Author: Jon Ponting

This article was published by Jon Ponting on 16.08.2012.