European legislation has its friends and its enemies as we have discovered, having survived the rigours of a recent General Election. Whatever the outcome of the promised referendum on EU membership here in the UK, we have to get on with abiding by European Directives for now. With many of the day to day products in use in the heating and plumbing sector being manufactured by European companies, it seems highly likely that with much of the legislation already in place and being acted upon, it would stay whatever the outcome. In the EU, or out, we clearly as a nation, need to reduce carbon emissions and continue to clean up our act on the environmental stage.
There is still a lack of realisation in some circles, of the amount of energy that is used day to day by pumps as a proportion of energy use in the average home. And every home pretty much, has one. Once understood, it’s easy to see why it was a prime area for attention when looking for ways of reducing energy use and reducing carbon emissions. In today’s vernacular, it was something of a ‘no brainer’.
Small circulating pumps are a key component of all wet heating systems in the UK – whether traditional boiler driven systems or new renewable systems. They perform as standalone pumps or as integrated pumps in combi and system boilers and they keep the water circulating in underfloor heating systems too. They are responsible for a much higher percentage of overall household electricity usage than many still realise which is why old uncontrolled pumps were targeted by European legislation as a key way of reducing energy usage in the home, reducing energy bills and reducing emissions. They offered a real way of making strides towards meeting the ambitious environmental targets set by the UK Government and European legislators.
Before January 2013, small circulating pump selection was often made on price. Although some installers had loyalty to a brand, in many people’s eyes, a pump was a pump was a pump. If it did the job, it did the job. There were a few high efficiency pumps on the shelves before the end of 2012, but at a far higher price than the standard efficiency ones. Until legislation said that you had to install them, despite some installers deciding that a high efficiency pump was what the customer deserved as part of an energy efficient heating system, from sales figures alone, it was clear that many were voting with their wallets.
From January 2013 high efficiency pumps were demanded by EU Legislation – the much vaunted ErP Legislation – and whilst there was initially some resistance to comply, as 2013 unfolded and availability of anything other than high efficiency options declined, installers began to buy and install and specifiers began to specify the high efficiency options. Now, just a few months down the line, high efficiency pumps have been accepted and are being installed in their thousands across the UK, with for example, some social housing landlords undertaking major pump replacement programmes, to help reduce their tenants’ electricity bills.
Despite this embracing of the new legislation and availability of the new ErP compliant circulating pumps, the fact remains that there are still many millions of old, uncontrolled small circulators operating in heating systems across the UK. So there is still huge potential to further reduce energy use and energy bills in the months and years ahead. Wilo and other pump manufacturers have begun to see their high efficiency models begin to sell well. Helped by the legislation, there was little choice but to utilise the new high efficiency models.
Although the concept of lifecycle costs was not new in January 2013 when ErP came into force, it was a concept that had largely been associated with commercial projects rather than domestic ones. But suddenly it became more important and the additional costs that inevitably follow the development of exciting new technology – in this case the vastly improved electronics and the arrival of electronically commutated motors (ECMs) for small circulating pumps – were justified by the lower life cycle costs of the new high efficiency, more expensive pumps and the huge savings possible over a ten or fifteen year operational life time. These could pay for the increased capital cost of the pump at the outset, many times over.
Wilo has just announced it is celebrating the sale of 28 million small circulators in the past ten years. In addition the company recently celebrated the selection of its small circulators as the pumps in the new combi boilers launched by two major boiler manufacturers here in the UK. Wilo’s high efficiency small pumps – in particular the Wilo-Yonos PICO – have made a huge impact in the UK heating and air conditioning sector over the past two and a half years, since the arrival of the ErP legislation in January of 2013.
Wilo’s series of glandless pumps – Wilo-Yonos PICO, Wilo-Stratos PICO and Wilo-Stratos – are seeing increasing popularity across the board. They are relevant for nearly all applications for heating, air-conditioning and cooling in the building services area – from the family home to a small commercial or industrial building.
Sadly, as always, some people will try to circumnavigate new legislation and ignore the drivers for environmentally friendly products. There has been genuine concern in the pump industry about the on-going availability of non-ErP compliant pumps, and the mislabelling of some pumps being imported into the UK and European markets since January 2013. European manufacturers are concerned that these pumps, although cosmetically looking like the new high efficiency models, in some cases, do not meet the requirements of the ErP regulations. Wilo, along with fellow members of the British Pump Manufacturers Association, continues to monitor this situation and report breaches of the regulations to the relevant authorities.
In general terms, the arrival of the EU ErP Directive has clearly begun to make significant inroads in the energy consumption figures, and as a result the emissions figures. There’s a long way still to go to hit the targets being demanded. But the age of the energy efficient pump is very much here.
To find out more about Wilo’s highly convenient, reliable family of high efficiency, ErP compliant small circulating pumps, just click on to www.wilo.co.uk.
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