Boiler refurbishment is good business sense
Darren Finley, National Sales Director for Ideal Commercial Boilers, explains why now is the perfect time for businesses to invest in energy saving building refurbishment, and how manufacturers of high efficiency appliances can use their knowledge of the industry to inform companies about the many financial benefits of installing modern condensing boilers.
Over recent months, there has been a rise in the number of refurbishments taking place in the commercial building sector. It is likely that one reason for this situation is the continuation of a slow economic turn. In the initial aftermath of the recession, many businesses chose to minimise expenditure, putting any investments in areas of improvement or growth on hold until the financial landscape looked as if it might be showing signs of growth.
However, over six years later, it is clear that a quick recovery is not going to happen. The healing process will be slow but, hopefully, steady, and with this realisation a change in outlook is emerging, with businesses increasingly willing to think in the long-term and invest in building work and products like high efficiency condensing boilers that will reduce energy use and minimise running costs. With the additional threat of rising fuel costs, these decisions are further justified, and financial directors are realising the positive affect that this kind of investment can make to the company’s finances over a relatively short time period.
The changes to Part L of The Building Regulations are another related factor. Coming into force on 6 April 2014, these amendments are a firm reminder that the government will continue to impose ever stricter energy efficiency requirements on the UK building sector. This is not really surprising, considering the legally binding 2020 deadline – a target that is rapidly approaching and will mark the point at which the UK must achieve, amongst other things, a 20% decrease in carbon emissions compared to 1990 levels.
With buildings producing nearly half of the nation’s carbon emissions, the enforcement of more efficient methods of building construction is recognised as holding one of the largest potentials to enable the government to meet these targets. This recognition is also behind much of the legislation outlined in the Energy related Products (ErP) Directive, scheduled for implementation in 2015, which is thought will have one of the greatest impacts of any energy reduction legislation to date.
This new legislation focuses on individual products and systems and will directly affect manufacturers of products such as space heating boilers, whose appliances will need to meet high minimum energy efficiency levels. Leading manufacturers will already be offering products that meet the predicted requirements in order to help their customers prepare for the future.
Space heating accounts for around 35-40% of a commercial building’s energy use, and the central component usually consists of one or more gas-fired boilers. As boilers are subsequently responsible for a large proportion of the building’s energy use and, by logical conclusion, a substantial percentage of carbon emissions within the UK, the replacement of old or low efficiency appliances is going to be a vital factor in reducing the nation’s overall carbon emissions. Although this ‘wider picture’ is good to know and explains much of the new legislation coming through relating to energy use in buildings, businesses also need to be able to recognise the financial benefits boiler replacement can offer to them as individual customers.
The most obvious benefit is lower running costs immediately after installation. Modern condensing boilers offer very high seasonal efficiencies of up to around 98%, which is a significant improvement on old, standard efficiency boilers that might be running at around 70% efficiency most of the time. Advanced controls are also an integral part of modern boiler models and these can have a huge impact on energy use within buildings. Boilers have come a long way since the days of a simple on/off switch, and now offer wide output modulation, ensuring the load is matched closely to the building’s requirements to maximise system efficiency, as well as outdoor sensor and weather compensation as standard.
In our experience, many organisations such as councils are finding that the replacement of old boiler appliances frequently results in energy savings of over 20% each year. In a great many instances, this has resulted in a payback period of three to four years based on current gas prices.
For those still hesitating due to the capital cost of boiler replacement, there are schemes available to assist. The Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme offers businesses tax relief for the first year on the capital cost of all energy products listed on the Energy Technology List (ETL).This reduces the payback period of the appliance still further, providing added incentive.
Businesses are not always aware of all of the financial benefits they can enjoy by investing in high efficiency condensing boilers, or the many ways in which this decision can greatly reduce their financial outgoings. However, manufacturers are in the perfect position to share their unique expertise by highlighting the practical reasons why it is better to make the investment sooner rather than later. Good communication enables businesses to make informed decisions which, ultimately, brings benefits to all.