A hot topic

Malcolm Jaques discusses how underfloor heating technology solutions offer the potentialfor significant energy savings

With recent figures showing that British customers are in debt to energy providers to the tune of half a billion pounds1, achieving maximum efficiency from buildings is of growing importance to customers and building managers across the UK.

Economic pressures are however not the only causes of the drive for energy efficiency now present in the public and private sectors. Recent EU and UK Government legislation is increasingly compelling companies to reduce carbon emissions and with the Conservative Government’s pledge to offer every household a Green Deal on energy efficiency, it is sure to be at the forefront of numerous policies. Relevant initiatives include the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive and the introduction of stringent energy reduction targets, as set out in the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s Carbon Plan, which imposes a 2050 deadline for the UK to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent. The construction industry has also been subject to specific legislation of its own, with Building Regulations Part L demanding careful analysis of carbon emissions and energy use in both new and existing buildings.

A central consideration in delivering greener and more efficient living should be utilising more efficient underfloor heating and cooling practices. This is one of the quickest and simplest means to deliver a more sustainable building which benefits from both cheaper operating costs and legal compliance. However, the ability of flooring systems to provide an efficient and comfortable solution for transferring heat into a building is often overlooked by end-users. It is also not generally appreciated that underfloor heating and cooling systems can reduce energy consumption by 15- 20 per cent compared to even the most efficient of traditional wet central heating systems or warm air heating systems.

The technology behind heating and cooling is becoming more important because it is essential to have an effective interface in place between the user and the technology to realise all the efficiencies on offer. In order to meet these needs, Warmafloor, the leading underfloor heating and cooling specialist in the UK, has developed a new underfloor heating and cooling control technology, called TICS Modular (standing for Total Integrated Control Strategy). This new solution is giving building managers across the UK the ability to achieve higher energy efficiency and reduce their overall carbon footprint through precise and intuitive control.

The TICS Modular solution is versatile, intelligent and simple to use making it an attractive system for building developers. Its user-friendly touch-screen control system allows building managers to operate a property’s cooling, heating and hot water systems from one central location. As well as having manual controls, the TICS Modular system has the intelligence to ensure that the least expensive available heating and cooling sources are used first, thereby keeping costs to a minimum. Furthermore, it has the ability to control up to 30 separate zones whilst also monitoring and displaying the amount of energy consumed in each area.

The Proportional-Integral Device logic (PID) integrated in the system allows TICS Modular to identify all of a building’s energy sources, including boilers, solar panels, heat pumps and air conditioning units, and make an instant assessment as to which of these is best suited to match the energy requirement at any given time.

TICS Modular can combat this via ensuring that heat or cooling is delivered at the most cost effective price where it is needed the most: in the bottom two metres of the room, creating a comfortable atmosphere for people to work and move around in. This, in turn, contributes to the overall energy efficiency of the building, producing an effective ‘steady state’ building all year round.

The current trend for building developers is that energy efficiency is steadily being moved up the agenda and with it comes a demand for new and innovative ways to achieve this via the latest energy saving technologies. Initiatives such as the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) encourage end users to become more aware of the benefits of making their homes more energy efficient.

Underfloor heating and the RHI scheme complement each other as many of the renewable heat sources available under theRHI scheme are compatible with underfloor heating. If a propertyhas both a renewable heat source and underfloor heating installed, not only will the homeowner receive payments through the RHI for generating energy, but they will also be able to reduce their energy bills.

TICS Modular recognises that buildings are often multi use spaces each with their own variable needs for heating and cooling. This matches one of the key design objectives of the system: to effectively manage the complex multi-use environment efficiently and effectively so thatmaximum satisfaction is achieved for the various users of the building. The accuracy of the new technology is unique, with the solution able to operate to within 0.5°C, as opposed to the industrystandard 4°C. This allows the system to function at minimum cost as when the temperature is lowered by just one degree, heating bills can be cut by approximately eight per cent.

Despite only being a recent technological development, TICS Modular already has a proven track record across a range of new buildings in both the public and private sectors. In the residential sector, the solution has been chosen by Land Securities and British Land, the two largest property developers in the UK, for a number of their major projects in London, including Wellington House (Land Securities) and Regent’s Place (British Land). TICS Modular has also recently been installed by Berkley Homes in their new residential development in the City of London, Goodmans Field.

As financial and legislative pressures continue to increase, intelligent control solutions are now becoming the prerequisite for delivering both commercial and residential energy efficient buildings. The TICS Modular underfloor heating and cooling solution offers significant energy savings coupled with improved satisfaction levels of the users’ total comfort levels, delivering a truly efficient building.

1International Business Times, “Britain drowning in £507m of energy debt as power firms rake in cash”, June 3 2015.

Malcolm Jaques is Commercial Manager of Warmafloor. Warmafloor was established in 1986 and is a recognised market leader in the design, manufacture, installation and commissioning of surface heating and cooling systems for commercial and industrial projects. Warmafloor completes at least 500 projects per year. Typical contracts include large industrial buildings, museums, offices, hospitals, schools, universities, leisure centres, hotels, government buildings, libraries and large apartment buildings.

For more information, please see www.warmafloor.co.uk.