The main method used to improve your home heating using energy efficient heating system components is to install a condensing boiler. This can be complimented by installing thermostatic control valves (TCV’s) to room radiators, and fitting a new thermostat to the existing hot water tank.
The upgrading of your central heating system can be achieved quite easily by the fitting of energy efficient components to your existing system, and ensuring that all the components are insulated with the latest heat retaining materials. This is another article in my series of energy savings in the home and follows my last article on condensing boilers. In this article, we will investigate the other essential components and materials which are required for energy efficient home heating systems.
Energy Efficient Home Heating System Components
Installing the following components, materials and having the system serviced yearly, will give you one of the best home heating systems.
- Thermostatic Control Valves (TCV’s) fitted to all room radiators.
- Thermostatic Control on hot water tank (TC).
- Modern insulation fitted to piping and components.
Radiator Thermostatic Temperature Control Valves (TCV’s)
These are fitted to the inlet side of the radiators and automatically control the flow of hot water, according to the setting and room temperature required.
A tiny rod inside the TCV is connected to the setting mechanism and the inlet valve on the radiator. As the rod expands and contracts with the change in the room temperature, it opens and closes the hot water inlet valve inside the TCV, thus controlling the heat output of the radiator.
There are normally five settings on the thermostatic control valves which are simple to operate. Ours are set between 2 and 4 over the winter, depending on which room the radiators are heating. There is also a practical frost setting, should you be going away for a winter break and there is the risk of a heavy frost. Do not be tempted to switch off the central heating or the boiler!
Central Heating Piping and Insulation
Some modern systems use micro-bore copper piping which now can be supplied in insulated coils, making for easier installation and longer runs without pipe fitting joints. There are mixed feelings about using the small 10mm copper pipe though, so the decision is yours.
The micro-bore piping is usually limited to under-floor runs, being fitted to a larger bore pipe from the floor to the radiator. If your wife is as lethal with a vacuum cleaner as mine, the larger bore copper pipes are less likely to be damaged by a side swipe or clout from the Hoover.
Using micro-bore does not necessarily increase efficiency, but does cut the costs of installation and reduces the chances of leaks. In some areas, however, these small pipes tend to get blocked with limescale. Some professional plumbers still recommend all runs from the boiler to the different rooms to be 22mm copper, and then from there to the radiator, it should be reduced to 15mm pipe. Its efficiency also depends on the insulation around the piping, both on supply and return lines. There are new types of insulation which are inexpensive and can be easily fitted by the DIY person.
Hot Water Tank Insulation and Temperature Thermostat
Strictly speaking, this tank is not part of your central heating, but it is on the same system being heated by an internal copper coil through which the hot water produced by the boiler flows. Modern hot water tanks come fully insulated with foam, but the older ones still have an insulating blanket tied around the tank which tends to slip down. This exposes the copper tank and lets the heat of the water escape to the closet or basement it is in, which is handy for drying clothes but not good for the system's efficiency.
Fitting of a thermostat is essential, as it operates a by-pass valve when the water is at the required temperature, opening it again when the water temperature drops below the set temperature. We are continually being nagged by TV ads telling us to turn down the thermostats. Well, there is a limit and you will soon know you have breached this when the shower or tap water becomes lukewarm.
The recommended setting is between 56 and 60° C. I set ours at just under 60° C and this gives us a plentiful supply of hot water. However, if you have young children running around, it may be safer to set it a bit lower in case of accidental burns from the hot water.
Types of Central Heating Radiator
The old type of cast-iron large bore radiators are the type we had when I was in school. (I clearly remember putting the wee bottle of milk we got each day on the top of one of these to defrost during the winter frosts – happy days!) These radiators take a lot of filling and are very susceptible to corrosion from the inside. They are still being recycled and reused as aesthetic antique additions to period houses, but are more expensive to run and maintain.
Modern home heating radiators are a lot slimmer and have internal cores through which the water is circulated with heat conducting fins and distribution louvers at the top. The louvers also stop the accumulation of dust on the convection fins and together with the smaller water capacity are very efficient
They come in all sizes and can be compact, panel, double or single, so it is very easy to purchase the right size to fit to the room for optimum efficiency.
Energy efficient home heating systems depend mainly on the installation of a new condensing boiler. However, other measures to improve a heating system's efficiency can certainly compliment this. First, when upgrading a system, thermostatic control valves should be fitted to the newer type of panel or compact radiators. These radiators contain less water having internal matrix cores designed for higher, more efficient operation.
A modern thermostat set at the optimum water temperature should be fitted to a well insulated hot water tank, along with insulated water pipes that will also improve your upgraded energy efficient home heating system.
Home Heating Components