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Now more than ever, businesses are looking for ways to save money and cut costs on bills, budgets and general maintenance costs.

The UK – and much of the rest of the world – is currently facing a cost-of-living crisis, with energy bills soaring.

As a result, you will want to keep an eye on the amount of energy your commercial heating systems are wasting.

Often it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest control system to save costs.

While this may save you a few pennies initially, these systems could prove more expensive long term. The cheaper products don't have the same capabilities as top-of-the-range commercial heating systems.

As a result, businesses are losing out on energy savings and efficiency within their property.

Investing in a quality building energy management system (BEMS) can make all the difference.

What Is A Building Energy Management System?

We’ve previously written about building management systems here at Javelin Controls (the benefits of a BMS and 5 key features of a BMS).

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The terms BMS and BEMS are often used interchangeably, but there are key differences.

The most notable difference is that a BEMS manages energy-related systems. In contrast, a BMS monitors and controls a broader range of building systems such as fire alarms, CCTV, and motion sensors.

When it comes to energy efficiency, they are an essential part of any property’s strategy.

As a computer-based system, they can monitor and control various equipment simultaneously. They omit the need for human intervention and reduce the risk of things running when they shouldn't.

You can automatically control power points in your building and monitor them constantly - increasing and reducing output depending on their requirements. This will stop the need for constant heating, cooling or other energy-wasting activities.

Furthermore, having heating systems linked to your BEMS means it will represent around 40% of the building's energy usage.

With this in mind, investing in a quality control system could see you making the most of this energy and ensuring it is being used in ways that will benefit costs and reduce waste.

Why Are Traditional Heating Control Systems Wasting Energy?

The average commercial building wastes about 30% of its energy produced.

This could be for several reasons:

That last point is quite important: you rely on staff to keep the room at a comfortable temperature - hoping that the thermostat is controlled accurately and not tampered with.

BEMS chart

Your employees will all be most comfortable in different environments, and finding that happy medium can be near impossible.

Instead of resorting to arguments and blankets, a quality BEMS can ensure your building runs as efficiently as possible and caters to the majority.

How Does A Building Energy Management System Save Energy?

There are many ways that a BEMS can help your business save energy.

A quality system can control as much as 84% of your building's energy consumption.

By doing so, you could be saving money and significantly contributing to the improvement of your carbon footprint.

Let’s look at some energy-saving benefits of Building Energy Management Systems over traditional heating control systems.

Visibility

By monitoring usage and demand, a BEMS can implement strategies to ensure you use less energy during peak times - prioritising the equipment and areas that need it most.

This capability also helps you better understand how and where you use most of your energy.

With a clearer understanding of energy usage, you can better predict how you will need to use certain systems in the future. As a result, you have more time to respond to issues and adjust your usage as it happens.

Weather Compensation

This function relies on a signal being received from the Building Energy Management System.

Room temperature data will be interpreted, and a control valve will help deliver the necessary output.

This ensures that only an optimal amount of energy is used while keeping the room at a constant temperature.

So instead of delivering constant heat at all times, it will recognise what is proportional to the external temperature and modulate the output to keep internal environments comfortable.

This reduces the need for the simpler on-off control you'd associate with general radiators and fan heaters, which can result in overheating a room and wasting energy by opening windows and doors.

Advantages of modulating control include:

Optimised Start/Stop

Optimised start/stop means the system 'learns' how long a room takes to warm up and cool down.

This allows room temperatures to be programmed differently. Instead of 'turn heating on at 6 am and heat to 20 degrees', the system is programmed to 'ensure the room is at 20 degrees by 8 am', for example.

Likewise, instead of 'turn off heating at 6 pm', you program it to ensure it’s at 20 degrees until 6 pm.

In each case, the system uses its knowledge of heating and cooling times to turn the heating on and off. This saves both money and energy as the system is used optimally.

In addition, by adding external sensors, the system can adjust its heating and cooling times accordingly (weather compensation)

Zone Control

Area or 'Zone' control is where the temperature of a specific area or zone can be controlled rather than the entire building.

You may, for example, need to keep a server room at a lower temperature than the surrounding offices.

Occupancy sensing can also help detect the presence of people and control the heating appropriately. This only works if you also have area or zone control so you can turn the heating on where those people are.

This means unoccupied rooms will not be heated – ensuring no energy is wasted.

Conversely, an area that is heavily occupied may need the majority of energy produced in the building.

To prioritise this, other systems can be linked together, making it simple for this computer-based function to recognise which rooms need heating.

Summary

There are many advantages that Building Energy Management Systems have over commercial heating systems, including:

They can cost more to install but ultimately save you money (and energy) in the long run.

By relying on the full, intelligent automation of the system, you can be assured that the optimum amount of energy will be used in your building all year round. In addition to saving you money, your staff will also thank you.

If you would like to find out more information about Building Management Systems, our team will be only too happy to answer any questions.

Our contact details can be found below.

Javelin Controls - HVAC Specialists

We have been installing building energy management systems for over 15 years in the Southeast. In that time, we’ve successfully supported hundreds of businesses with the development of their property management, optimising their workplace environment, reducing heat loss and improving overall efficiency.

Get in touch with the team on 023 9400 4123 or email sales@javelincontrols.co.uk to transform your environment with a high-quality building energy management system. We’ll be more than happy to discuss your requirements and find a customised solution to suit your needs.

Can a heat pump replace gas boilers? That's the question many commercial and residential clients ask as the search for viable, alternative energy resources continues. The embers of the ongoing debate have been stoked by the government announcing it favours air source and ground source heat pumps as the eventual successors to boiler gas as part of its boiler upgrade scheme.

This blog aims to show the realities of heat pumps, how they compare to gas boilers and whether they will indeed replace gas boilers in the future.

We will explore how the two systems operate, their efficiency, eco-friendliness, and how much they cost to run and install.

Heat Pumps v Gas Boilers - Main Differences

Let's start the comparison by looking at how heat pumps and gas boilers work.

Firstly, boilers can heat cold water reasonably quickly, which is one of the main reasons they have proved so popular. They can heat radiators and, therefore, large open spaces - like offices or warehouses - to high temperatures in no time.

A boiler system is often designed to run at flow temperatures of around 70°C (this is the temperature of water sent round to your radiators). The water returns to the boiler after travelling around your radiators (called 'the return'), usually between 10-20°C cooler.

By contrast, heat pumps produce heat more slowly and at lower temperatures.

They ideally want to have an average temperature of roughly 37.5°C and a temperature difference of only 5°C. To be as effective, the radiators they feed in to need to have a much larger surface area. So rather than pumping water into traditional wall-mounted fixtures, they are probably best suited for underfloor heating systems.

When asking yourself whether to swap a gas boiler for a heat pump, you will need to be aware that existing radiators and pipework, as well as your existing source, may need to be updated.

Heat Pumps vs Gas Boilers - Efficiency

Which is more efficient: a gas boiler or a heat pump?

Natural gas boilers have a heat exchanger within the gas combustion chamber. Water passes through this exchanger and absorbs heat from the burning gas. Because it is so efficient, around 90% of the energy is absorbed into the water.

Furthermore, because much heat is created, water vapour condenses - hence the system being referred to as a condensing boiler.

The efficiency of a heat pump is known as the Coefficient of Performance (CoP). This is the ratio of the amount of electricity used to the amount of heat produced for the home.

For example, if the heat pump uses 1kWH of electricity and produces 3 kWh of heat, the CoP is 3 (or 300%) efficiency.

A wide range of contributing factors and many formulae are used to deliver and calculate this efficiency. So it is essential to understand precisely what you should expect from each system when comparing.

Heat Pumps vs Gas Boilers - Costs

A pound coin on a white background

This is ultimately what it boils down to: how much do either of the heating systems cost to set up and run?

Heat pumps are certainly more expensive to buy.

Currently, if you are looking at installing an air source heat pump, you can expect to pay between £8000 and £16000. It can even be as much as £28,000 if you need to upgrade radiators and replace pipework.

For ground source heat pumps, you are looking at around £14,000 to £25,000 for an installation and perhaps even more if you need a large borehole collector.

There are many variations of a boiler, with prices ranging from £500 to £2,500 depending on your chosen make and model. The installation will usually cost more.

But what about running costs?

As previously discussed, heat pumps run on electricity, and boilers burn gas. As a result, a cost comparison will need to consider the unit cost of each fuel.

Electricity costs between 12p and 24p per kWh, depending on your tariff. Alternatively, natural gas is between 3 and 5p.

This means that, in terms of financial cost, the heat pump would need a CoP between 3 and 5 (an efficiency of between 300 and 500%) to be comparable.

As the cost of gas and electricity changes, so will this calculation. However, there is one thing you can be sure of. The cost of energy will continue to rise, and the gap between the price between electricity and gas will close.

In the current climate, switching gas to heat pumps can be pretty expensive. Still, as the energy cost gap closes, the numbers will eventually become more favourable for heat pumps.

The fact that heat pumps save you money on energy bills and last twice as long as a commercial boiler means that over time, they will benefit you financially.

Heat Pumps vs Gas Boilers – Space Required

In order to further explain the realities of heat pumps vs boilers, we should also consider the amount of space both of them require.

Firstly, many of us will already be familiar with the size of a standard gas boiler.

However, heat pumps require alternative equipment for office set-ups.

There are two main types of heat pumps:

- air source

- ground source.

Air source heat pumps collect heat from ambient air whilst ground pumps receive heat from the ground.

Air source heat pumps usually have a large box measuring 1200mm by 1000m outside your building with a fan and compressor inside. This box absorbs heat from the air as the fan draws it through. Additionally, the outside unit needs 2 metres of space in front of it.

To install these, you will also need space inside the property for a hot water cylinder, control box and potentially a second buffer tank, which is about a third of the size of a standard tall hot water cylinder.

Ground source heat pumps, on the other hand, can be installed virtually anywhere. Open-loop systems will need access to a water source - but closed-loop systems do not, making them the more popular choice for urban companies.

The maximum length of the pipe will be 400m depending on the heat pump size you require. This means that, in total, the average system will need between 600 and 1200 square metres of land that is clear of trees and buildings.

Final Thoughts - Will Heat Pumps Replace Gas Boilers?

A white gas boiler on a turquoise background with the text 'Heat Pumps vs Gas Boilers' written next to it.

Although heat pumps are very sustainable and much more efficient than the standard gas boiler, they have some glaring limitations in the real world that don't always make them a suitable, direct replacement for gas boilers.

Firstly, they can be very costly to install compared to gas boilers.

Additionally, they are not yet suitable for every property. Suppose your business is poorly insulated and you have a limited budget. In that case, improving your insulation will be a far more cost-effective way of limiting your energy use (and therefore lowering your monthly bills).

Something else worth considering is that to replace your boiler with a heat pump, the radiators will likely need to be replaced.

And from our experience, we have found that many gas boiler installations are not set up optimally. Each unit can be programmed to better reflect the use of the building and could ultimately save you money on your bills. If in doubt, we can always check the basic installation is correct for you.

For these reasons and more, heat pumps may not yet be a viable alternative to gas boilers for everyone. However, as the energy cost gap closes, the numbers may eventually become more favourable toward heat pumps.

Hybrid systems - making use of both a heat pump and commercial boiler – are also becoming available. The advantage here is that the heat pump takes some of the strain - allowing the boiler to run for longer and reducing energy costs.

If you're unsure which to opt for or are wondering if switching to one rather than the other will benefit you, hybrid systems may be the way to go.

More About Javelin Controls

Javelin Controls Limited was originally formed 14 years ago and has subsequently developed to the stage where, in addition to supporting Hampshire and West Sussex County Councils, both directly and indirectly, in all things controls-related, it has also successfully completed a £1.3M contract for Hampshire County Council providing their schools portfolio with Boiler Energy Efficiency controls packages.

Get in touch with the Javelin Controls team to transform your work environment with a high-quality building management system. We’ll be more than happy to discuss your control and HVAC system requirements and find a customised solution to suit your business needs.

Sadly, one of the news stories that you can’t escape from is the growing climate change crisis. As a result, many businesses and homeowners are taking significant steps towards sustainability and achieving ‘net zero’ status. Businesses, in particular, are adapting to climate change by looking at renewable energy sources, such as solar power.

If that's something you're interested in, this blog will help answer any questions about the benefits of solar power for your business.

How Does Solar Power Work?

Solar power is the conversion of renewable energy from sunlight into electricity.

Many different technologies are available now to businesses to help harness that power.

Two of the most popular are:

We'll look at each of these in turn, analysing their benefits to see which could better suit your business.

Solar Thermal Energy

Solar Thermal Energy (STE) is used to heat water, which can be used for commercial and residential buildings.

Panels can be installed on rooftops - or other surfaces open to the elements - to absorb the sunlight.

These panels house tube-shaped collectors which are filled with water. As the liquid heats up, it is pumped into a specially designed hot water cylinder, where it is stored until you need it.

Benefits of Solar Thermal Energy for Businesses

Solar thermal energy technology has a wide range of benefits for businesses.

It does not take up as much space on roofs as Solar PV Energy panels (more on that later) and can therefore keep offices looking more ‘aesthetically pleasing’.

Thermal energy is also 70% more efficient at collecting heat from the sun's rays than solar PV. It is also a lot less complex to run and maintain.

Therefore, it is a more affordable form of solar power in terms of economics.

Disadvantages of Solar Thermal Energy

While there are many advantages to this technology, there are some disadvantages, particularly for businesses based in the UK.

For example, it is less effective in the winter months when the sunlight is often weaker and the weather is cloudier.

The panels also have a shorter life expectancy than Solar PV. Many other competitors can expect to outlast solar thermal technology by around ten years.

A Good Solution For Businesses?

Thermal solar technology is a superior energy solution compared to alternative forms of green energy like tidal and biomass energy.

However, its exclusive function for water heating can be a downfall when you need solutions for the entire building's power.

And – as alluded to above – the technology is perhaps best suited for warmer climates because the ability of the panels to absorb the sun's rays in winter months diminishes. Relying on sunlight during the summer to heat your water can be risky, particularly with the UK’s more temperate weather.

Solar PV Energy

Solar PV is a much newer technology than solar thermal technology.

To the untrained eye, they look similar to Solar Thermal panels. They are also placed on roofs, but – as we will see – there are some significant differences between the two technologies.

There are three common types of PV panels that are available:

Monocrystalline is the most efficient of these options but is also the most expensive. Alternatively, polycrystalline is a little less efficient but comes at a slightly cheaper price range. Lastly, thin-film solar cells are the most affordable option but are also the most flexible.

Deciding which is best for your businesses will depend mostly on your price range.

How Do These Work?

Solar PV energy works by absorbing sunlight and then converting it into electricity using silicon-based technology.

Advantages of Solar PV Panels

Solar PV Panels have a range of advantages for businesses. For example, they provide you with clean and green energy that can be the best first step towards carbon-neutral offices. They can also do this for a long time of up to 50 years which will see you benefiting financially in the long run.

Furthermore, they are considerably efficient during the summer months yet won't freeze during the winter. Even when there's the slightest bit of brightness during the day - the panels will absorb the rays and allow you to make use of whatever sunshine you have.

In addition, they can cover the energy requirements of appliances that have a high-energy consumption. This includes the refrigerator, washing machine, dryer and much more.

Lastly, the government scheme of a feed-in tariff means that solar PV will take less time to pay for itself than other green energy sources.

This programme is designed to promote renewable and low-carbon technology - giving you an incentive to implement it in your business. You will benefit from quarterly payments for the electricity your installation has generated. This is determined by readings you submit to your energy supplier.

Disadvantages of Solar PV

Whilst solar PV is a remarkable piece of technology in its longevity and efficiency, it does have some drawbacks for those on a budget.

The initial costs are often quite expensive for some businesses.

However, the return you will get can see significant benefits for your business. So it is undoubtedly worth the investment if you can.

And it is worth noting that the panels take up a lot more room than the Thermal Energy equivalent. So available space is something business owners would need to consider.

A Good Solution For Businesses?

Solar PV can be a great sustainable solution for your energy needs.

It allows you to benefit from a phenomenal form of green energy that is hard to beat. Additionally, solar PV will also allow you to earn money from the Feed-in Tariff.

Overall Benefits of Solar Power Systems for Businesses

Now that we have explained both forms of solar power systems let's explore how the overall concept of solar energy can benefit businesses.

An office building with solar panels

A Truly Renewable Source of Energy

Firstly, one benefit for businesses is that solar power is one of the only truly renewable energy sources.

In much the same way that wind turbines rely on gusts, the sun’s presence is paramount for this technology. Fortunately, scientists currently predict that we have another five billion years of energy left to use from it.

As long as your business gets a few hours of sunlight a day, you can benefit from this energy source.

A Reduction In Energy Bills

You rely less on the national grid and traditional utility suppliers to power your business by generating your own energy on-site.

The more energy you produce, the more you will save when using these energy sources.

How much you save will depend on the size of your system and what your typical usage levels are.

That being said, these appliances can easily save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds each year.

Low Maintenance Costs

An additional aspect of solar energy that makes them ideal for businesses is the low maintenance costs involved in keeping them.

Generally, you will get away with cleaning them a couple of times a year. As they do not have any moving parts, you do not need to worry about wear and tear, providing a need for additional maintenance.

So once the initial cost has been paid, you can expect minimal spending needed for maintenance and ongoing repair work.

Reducing Your Environmental Impact

Green initiatives are becoming increasingly more critical within our global agenda.

Customers and consumers expect many businesses to be as responsible as they can when it comes to the environment.

As solar panels produce energy without greenhouse gases or water pollution, they are a viable solution in the world's quest to become more sustainable.

Additionally, solar panels do not produce noise pollution - making them perfect for dense urban areas.

Space Efficient

A somewhat smaller benefit of solar power sources is that they are both silent and space-efficient.

For businesses that are expanding physically, such as with new premises or on-site buildings, the fact that these can be installed simply on the roof of existing buildings can save a lot of needed space elsewhere.

This means that you won't need to find home turbines or large water heaters storage.

Final Thoughts On Solar Power For Businesses

Many businesses are starting to see why investing in renewable energy is so important.

It shows that your brand cares about sustainability and the planet's future, which helps your brand reputation and the global environment.

We have looked at the two main types of panels. While both are relatively cheap to install, space-efficient (compared to traditional energy sources) and silent, they have differences that businesses would need to consider.

More About Javelin Controls

Javelin Controls Limited was originally formed 14 years ago and has subsequently developed to the stage where, in addition to supporting Hampshire and West Sussex County Councils, both directly and indirectly, in all things controls related, it has also successfully completed a £1.3M contract for Hampshire County Council providing their schools portfolio with Boiler Energy Efficiency controls packages.

Get in touch with the Javelin Controls team to transform your work environment with a high-quality building management system. We'll be more than happy to discuss your control and HVAC system requirements and find a customised solution to suit your business needs.

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