There’s no doubt that any heat recovery system works better when it is integrated into a holistic approach designed for greater sustainability. Heat recovery and ventilation systems are normally installed for two reasons: to provide clean air and to reduce energy costs by recycling heat in the old air.
Working on their own heat recovery systems are not strictly renewable energy sources but a way of getting the most out of what has already been generated. If you are intent on reducing your bills and being more sustainable, HRVSs can be combined with other renewable technologies to provide an even better reduction in carbon emissions and savings on energy bills.
Perhaps the most recognisable of all the renewable technologies, solar panels are considered a great investment if you want cheaper bills and would like to make some profit through the government’s Feed in Tariff Scheme. A 4 kW array can produce more than enough electricity for a conventional household and around £4-500 profit a year on the FiT. Combined with an efficient heat recovery system it could also provide substantial savings on energy bills.
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An increasingly popular choice for households and businesses are biomass boilers that use biological plant material to produce heat. Combination boilers can produce both heat and electricity. Modern biomass boilers can help reduce your carbon footprint and, combined with an effective heat recovery system, they can also garner significant savings on fuel bills compared to old oil and coal technology.
Less well-known that other renewable technologies, micro-hydro uses the power of running water for the production of electricity. More suitable for locations that are not connected to the national grid such as farms, houses and businesses that are out in the country, it’s thought that an efficient system could well supply the power needed for an individual home.
Combined Heat and Power, or Micro CHP, covers quite a range of green energy technologies that are designed to make the most of your power production. In essence, they are not considered a renewable source but can provide significant returns and energy savings for homes and businesses that use them. They are also eligible for the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive or RHI.
Flue Gas Heat Recovery
One of the easiest heat recovery technologies to integrate with your existing provision is by installing something like an economiser on your boiler. Most new boiler systems come with this kind of device nowadays but fitting one onto an older model can reduce the amount of electricity you need to heat water. It works by feeding the heat normally lost through the flue and using it to warm up the boiler so that less energy is used.
Retrofitting a Heat Recovery System
As well as being designed as part of new build projects that help reduce energy costs, heat recovery systems can be integrated into existing heating and ventilation systems. Upgrading to a more efficient technology that reduces your energy costs can provide a decent return on investment and, with fuel bills set to rise more over the next few years, it is something to seriously consider for households and businesses who want to lower their carbon footprint.
The key consideration when assessing the suitability of installing a heat recovery system is to check whether there will be enough space to house the heat exchanger, normally in the loft or storage space at the top of a building. The size of the heat exchanger will vary according to the size of system, though in domestic circumstances it can be positioned in the attic, garage, or even in a kitchen or utility room.
It will also be necessary to check whether there is adequate space and access for the installation of ductwork that can reach all of your rooms. In some retrofit projects this can be tricky, often requiring the lifting of floors. For this reason many people decide to fit an MVHR system when the whole property is being renovated. In some cases retrofitting and integrating a heat recovery and ventilation system may not be possible due to the lack of space or access.
Heat recovery system installation companies will be able to advise you on the possibilities for integration with existing systems. The main thing to take into account will be the initial cost compared to the savings you are likely to make.
Integrating Heat Recovery with Insulation
Most new houses and office builds are much more airtight than other, older properties. Heat recovery works best when there is sufficient insulation and you are not losing valuable heat through cracks in the walls or old vents. Before taking on a HRVS you need to assess whether your building is sufficiently airtight to make the initial outlay on a system cost effective. There is plenty of help nowadays on getting things like cavity wall and loft insulation as well as grants available to improve the energy efficiency of your building.
Find out more about insulating your home here.
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