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Considering the future of electric heating


Social landlords should explore the possibilities that electric heating can offer, says Chris Stammers at Dimplex

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The social housing sector is undergoing a dramatic period of disruption. Budget cuts, property ownership and an uncertain political landscape are all hot topics, but there is perhaps one issue more than any other which demands our attention – energy efficiency.

As the UK moves towards producing near-zero carbon homes, creating sustainability now and for the future has never been more important. What makes a sustainable home today? And how will this develop in the short and medium term with the continued technological advances we are all seeing? How can landlords make sure their homes are set up to deliver long-term, cost-effective living for their residents? This chapter will explore all of these questions and more.

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Reducing energy costs Reducing energy costs
Time to re-evaluate views on electric heating Time to re-evaluate views on electric heating

Heating accounts for more than 60% of energy use in the home so it is clear to see the importance – and the value – of an energy-efficient heating system. And with a combination of smaller living space and low heat loss in well-insulated new flats or small homes, electric heating is becoming increasingly relevant in all tenures, including social housing. Between 30-40% of flats are electrically heated and there is nothing to suggest this will not increase in the coming years.

Electric heating has changed. Far from the static white boxes of years gone by, modern appliances are intelligent, efficient and easy to operate – which makes them a genuinely compelling offer for any electrically heated home, new or old. Despite this, thousands of social housing households are still being hit in the pocket by a legacy of storage heaters, which were installed in the 1970s and 1980s, using technology that remained largely unchanged until this decade.

“Latest technologies give users greater control and lower running costs.”

The latest technologies give users greater control and lower running costs than ever before, with intelligent controls that can automatically adapt to changes in weather patterns. And with Lot 20 of the European Union’s Energy Efficiency Directive set to force innovative features such as presence detection and open-window sensors onto all applicable electric heating appliances from next year, performance standards are set to increase.

Of course, there is more to electric heating than space heating appliances. Stricter installation standards and increased insulation are reducing our reliance on space heating in the domestic sector. In many cases, electric water heating is now of more concern in being able to meet regulations in terms of energy use and improving the standard assessment procedure rating of a property.

This is an area in which there has been very little reduction in carbon emissions until now, but it is undergoing a renewed focus of innovation from manufacturers such as Dimplex. Viable systems are already showing their worth in the social housing sector.

One thing is sure: electric heating appliances with on-board electronics are now ready to deliver a future-proof solution for energy-efficient social housing.

By making the most of established technologies such as wireless connectivity and emerging developments in the field of the Internet of Things, we can improve comfort, maximise control and offer non-heat related benefits by linking with other appliances in the home. More than anything, electric heating can improve the energy efficiency of the home, thereby reducing running costs. For that alone, it must be worth exploring further.

Chris Stammers, product marketing director, Dimplex


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