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Ensuring a ‘seamless switch’ to higher efficiency water heaters

With updates to Approved Document L of the Building Regulations ruling out non-condensing direct-fired water heaters having just come into force, the hot water industry will be instrumental in ensuring ‘a seamless switch’ to higher efficiency condensing water heaters.

So says Baxi Commercial Solutions, which explains that under the revised regulations, all direct-fired water heaters must now achieve a minimum heat generator seasonal efficiency of 91% (GCV) for natural gas, and 92% (GCV) for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). For indirect-fired water heaters, the minimum heat generator seasonal efficiency is set at 91% (GCV) for both natural gas and LPG. The new requirements apply to both existing and new non-domestic building stock.

Technical director, Andy Green (pictured), said: “Effectively, the uplift ends the option to carry out like-for-like non-condensing water heater replacements in the vast majority of non-domestic buildings in favour of higher efficiency condensing units.” 

The changes are part of the Government’s roadmap to help the UK move towards its Net Zero target by 2050 by improving the existing non-domestic buildings’ energy efficiency. 

Andy Green explained: “The valuable end-user energy-saving benefits from upgrading to condensing water heaters – which are on average up to 20% more efficient than non-condensing models – are clear. The move will help mitigate soaring energy bills while reducing carbon and NOx emissions for a more sustainable installation – particularly when combined with heat pumps to deliver more economical heat without compromising on peak hot water demands.”

With factors such flueing and condensate arrangements requiring consideration and assessment project by project, however, the hot water and heating system specialist is encouraging businesses to plan ahead. It said: “Even on the few and far between projects where exemptions to the stricter efficiency standards apply, forward planning is essential. Early engagement will be critical if contractors are to satisfy the Building Control body with the recommendation and avoid any risk of censure.”

‘Energy savings aside’, Baxi Commercial Solutions says the transition to condensing water heaters also brings an opportunity to reassess current hot water requirements, ‘especially in buildings where occupancy and energy usage have changed in recent years’. Ultimately, it adds, the revised calculations could point to a smaller water heater now being required,  or the option to relocate the plant – to the rooftop or outside – to better utilise space.



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