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Passive & Energy Efficient Builders

                 Phone:  022-27494        



Irrespective of what heating system or appliances you install, the critical factor is the adequacy and controls of same. There is no point installing a 95% efficient boiler if it is left running all day and night. Or having an A rated large family dishwasher and living alone! Therefore knowledge of your requirements and smart planning to utilize the systems and appliances installed in your dwelling can greatly benefit the occupants of the home both from a comfort and financial point of view.

Heating Controls.
Heating system controls should be installed to ensure that heat is provided only when and where it is needed.  The Building Regulations require the following as a minimum:

Space heating temperature be controlled by a room thermostat or thermostatic radiator valves and;

Hot water storage temperature control (cylinder thermostat) and;

Separate time control for space and water heating and;

Controls switch off boiler when not required for space or water heating and;

Separate time and temperature control in two or more zones if the floor area is greater than 100m sq.

Don’t forget having the controls installed only allows management; the efficiency that can be obtained from the management is up to you. Keep the room thermostats at a comfortable level not at a “grand warm” temperature. Recommended temperatures are 20 degrees in Living areas and 18 degrees in sleeping and corridor area. Turning down the thermostats by one degree can reduce heat demand by 10%. Only have the hot water to come on at / for the appropriate time before it is required i.e. half hour before showering in the morning; not from 4am to 7am to be hot at 9am.

The heating system should be efficient, not only at full load, but also at lower loads.  If looking at oil or gas boilers, you should ensure that the boiler complies with the EU boiler efficiency directive.  In the case of gas boilers, you should consider condensing boilers, which cost a bit more but are highly energy-efficient. Choose carefully the position of the boiler, preferably within the insulated shell of the building and a good central position minimising the lengths of pipe runs and associated heat losses. As well as providing space heating, combination ‘combi’ boilers supply hot water directly to the taps, thus avoiding the losses associated with storage in a hot water cylinder.

Hot Water Systems.
It is generally more energy-efficient to heat water using an efficient boiler or other fuel-burning appliance than with an electric immersion heater.  The hot water cylinder should be well insulated. An obvious way of obtaining hot water is via solar panels but don’t forget these systems will also need a top up source.  

Open fires.
Open fires, whether of the solid fuel or gas type, are wasteful of energy, and even when they are not in use, the chimney gives rise to uncontrolled ventilation heat loss.  If a fireplace must be installed, an ‘underfloor draught’ air supply (a small duct or pipe installed within the floor and connecting the outside air directly to the fireplace) can help to reduce the amount of warm internal air escaping through the chimney.  A closed stove is preferable to an open fire in terms of controlled efficient heat.

MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) 
A balanced ventilation system involving fans, ductwork and a heat exchanger can transfer heat from warm stale outgoing air to incoming fresh air. Warm stale air is usually extracted from rooms such as kitchens, utilities and bathrooms, which help warm up incoming fresh air that is supplied to living areas and bedrooms.  For such systems to work well, the house must be well sealed.  Correctly sized systems can reduce ventilation heat loss considerably.

Passive Solar Heating.
In principle the glazing should be concentrated on the Southern façade.  The glazing area on the Northern façade should be minimised to limit heat loss.  Thermal mass in south-facing rooms is a priority, i.e. masonry walls or concrete floors, as this will absorb and store solar energy during the day and release it gradually during the evening.  The main heating system should have a fast response time and good controls to maximise the usefulness of solar gains.  The south-facing windows may need protection from high sun in summer to prevent over heating and this can be provided by projections such as balconies, overhanging eaves, blinds etc.
A well-designed sunspace or conservatory on the Southern side of a dwelling also increases solar gain while also acting as a buffer zone against heat loss. Sunspaces should not be heated, and should ideally be separated from the main living area by insulated walls and double/triple-glazed doors.

Lighting and Appliances.
Simple Energy-efficient lamps and fittings should be chosen for all rooms, with more sophisticated systems (sensors, dimmers, higher efficient lamps etc) where lights are likely to be switched on for long periods – living rooms, kitchens, halls, security lighting etc. 

All fridges, freezers, washing machines and tumble dryers on display in shops are now required by law to display Energy Labels indicating their energy efficiency.  These labels can assist you in selecting a model. But don’t forget to purchase models that suit your requirements


  © Matt Fitzpatrick | Site by Big Push Design