SPECIAL FEATURE HVAC FUTURE HEATING COSTS POST BREXIT – IT’S NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM! Leaving the EU could cost the UK up to £500m per year in energy bills in the next few years according to an independent report commissioned by National Grid. The country imports about six per cent of its electricity from the continent, and 50 per cent of its gas from inside and outside the EU, but it is not all doom and gloom according to Nick Winton, divisional manager for Nortek Global HVAC, particularly when it comes to heating. C urrent industry regulations obviously insist that staff cannot work in cold temperatures but with factory and warehouse owners faced with an ever increasing overhead, the temptation is to resort to fi nding the cheapest heating system available, even though it is rarely the most energy effi cient. Most manufacturers of heating systems are now looking to systems that deliver whole life costs as a way of making real energy savings. Short term, a cheap system might seem the right way to go, but don’t be deceived. Although paying for more energy effi cient heating systems may not be a popular idea in the current economy, it makes tremendous sense when true value is looked at, rather than initial costs. According to government information, the most reliable indicator of ‘value’ in the construction industry is the relationship between long term costs and the benefi t achieved by the end user. And when it comes to the heating system, best value is gained from the system that achieves the required functionality at lowest cost when calculated over the whole life of the equipment. Whole life cost analysis is an economic evaluation process solely for the purpose of assessing the true cost of constructing and running a building over a period of time, based on the functional requirements of the building. It is effective for new buildings, including design and build projects, and has been a pre-requisite for PFI contracts. The technique was originally used by the accountancy profession to compare outcomes when income varies over time, using today’s value or net present value as a starting point. Today, the methodology is used widely in many industries, although uptake in the construction industry is ‘quite small’, according to a spokesperson at BSRIA. 40 | May 2017 Using these calculations, some modern manufacturers have proved that they can deliver energy savings of up to 70 per cent, a signifi cant reduction in running costs. It’s a technique that has been in existence for decades. With more and more people seeing the benefi ts of whole life cost analysis, its popularity in construction is increasing. Rather than focusing on the cost of instalment and payment for the system, it focuses instead on the building’s requirements, how well each solution tackles them and the costs of doing so. Going cheap might look good in an initial payment. But compare its whole life cost to that of an energy effi cient system, and the difference can be thousands; wasted money that businesses cannot afford to lose. When considering each building’s needs, it shouldn’t be simplifi ed to just simply ‘the building must be heated’, as the full requirements are far more specifi c. Value management and value engineering are indispensable factors in fi nding the more effi cient solution. The system should match the needs of the occupants, as well as the building’s shape and size. This means knowing exactly where and when heat will be needed and how it can best be delivered. Functional needs Radiant tube heating burns fuel at the point of use so there is no loss of effi ciency in distributing heat around the building. In specifying a heating system, it is important to base requirements on output and functional needs, rather than describing the process by which these will be achieved. This allows for fl exibility and perhaps more thoughtful or innovative approaches to a heating solution, one that will fulfi l needs over the system’s life. For example, it should respond to alterations in the work pattern, downsizing or expansion.