Part L for installers – Good idea to play by the rules?
A Clear Structure for Installers
Without a doubt, rules serve a valuable purpose, giving structure and order in an otherwise chaotic world. But what happens when the rules are unfit for purpose, what should we do then? While we at JG Speedfit would strongly urge you to continue to carry about your duties within the confines of the law, challenging the status quo is sometimes necessary.
By asking the right questions and thinking outside the box, this can help bring about change. And while this may feel uncomfortable in the short term, the long-term benefits are plain for all to see. Interested?
As installers, our work must adhere to certain rules and regulations. One example of this in action is Part L of the Building Regulations.
Introduced in 2014, Part L provides a framework for the use of new and existing heating controls, which outline the need to make reasonable provision to conserve power in buildings through heating controls. This all sounds very reasonable until we look at what we consider to be an acceptable level of heating control.
Despite the technology that is currently available, heating controls, which satisfy legislation, are still very basic. As with anything in life, you get out what you put in, and when we use basic heating controls, it is only natural that this will yield minimal energy and cost savings. Long-term thinking brings long-term results, and it’s time to change the game.
Specifying Controls for Underfloor Heating
Of course, we are in favour of any measure which makes houses more energy-efficient and drives cost savings for homeowners and occupants. That said, there is room for improvement if we are to take full advantage of the technology that is available to us.
We have a responsibility to make our customers aware of what they could be getting, and the obstacles that are preventing the industry and wider attitudes from moving forward. More needs to be done to compel installers to specify heating controls which deliver more in terms of functionality and energy efficiency.
High Standards Instead of the Bare Minimum
It is said that an Englishman’s (or woman!) home is his castle, most people want the best for their homes and yet, they aren’t always given the choice. Part L building regulations demand very basic heating controls to be installed. This ‘bare minimum’ approach in functionality won’t be accepted in other areas of the house (lighting being the clearest example), therefore we need to maintain the same high standards where heating controls are concerned.
The Future for UFH Installers
For a start, it’s worth installers taking the time to get clued up and understand what options are available. Heating control is just a small part of the life of an installer and might not always be in front of the mind.
One theory is that this goes back to the way we educate installers, heating control simply isn’t an important part of the curriculum and colleges are unlikely to cover this topic in any great depth, beyond educating apprentices on their professional legal responsibilities as installers.
As energy controls become an increasingly important part of modern home designs, a good working knowledge of heating controls can go a long way. Only when we give customers the information they need to make informed decisions can we hope to reap the full benefits of heating controls. For this to happen, installers need to be given the tools to make informed recommendations.
A Long(er)-term Approach to Heating Controls
Our view is that building regulations need to evolve in line with the more sophisticated heating control solutions that are currently available on the market. This won’t happen overnight and until then, it’s up to the installer to raise the bar.
Rather than just settling for the most basic controls to ensure compliance, a more selective approach to heating controls is necessary. Some must haves in heating controls to maximise energy savings include:
- The capability to create individual heating zones
- Thermostats in each heating zone
- Interlock facility
- Temperature and time control
Yes, rules are there for a reason, but if we continue to follow the rules without a question, progress in this area will be limited. Most people agree that energy efficiency is a priority and legislation should reflect this.
By legislating for best practice in heating controls, energy savings can be maximised which is, after all, the purpose of legislation in the first place.
If you would like to talk to us about this please do get in contact, you can email us or get involved with us on twitter at @speedfit. Alternatively, if you’re an installer looking for advice on Part L, please visit our website for more information.