Explaining the benefits of controls to your customers

Explaining the benefits of controls to your customers

The latest heating controls give customers access to advanced functionality and energy efficiency. However, some of the terms can take some explaining, so how do you sell these to customers? Martin Wilson, Sales Director UK at Resideo, suggests the advanced features to look out for and how to package up the benefits for customers.

With the drive towards sustainability continuing to gain momentum amongst homeowners, installers will increasingly be expected to offer the solutions that can help play a part in achieving the goal of a greener tomorrow, as well being able to provide more immediate energy savings.

For installers, this presents the perfect opportunity to help put customers back in command of their heating system, and unlock potential savings available of whichever heat source they opt for; be it a heat pump or boiler.

The next generation of the Honeywell Home evohome smart zoning system, for instance, has been developed to be an all-in-one, universal control that can work with boilers and heat pumps, learn to scale energy usage to avoid waste, and switch between warm and cool weather settings. But how do you present the benefits to homeowners?

Heat pump compatibility
With a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028 set by the Government as part of its ‘10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’, and the switch to this type of heat source in new builds by 2025, the technology is playing an increasing role in decarbonising heat in our homes.

Typically, a gas boiler takes about half an hour to heat a house, so it can run in quick bursts to provide heating for a short time if needed without significantly impacting the energy bill, the boiler, or comfort levels.

As heat pumps work with lower system temperatures, they take a lot longer to warm up a property to the desired temperature. Also, a certain amount of flow needs to be maintained to the heat pump. If the flow rate drops below a threshold, a heat pump will stop operating regardless of what the controls ask for. So, selecting a control that can maximise the output of the heat pump is crucial to getting the best from the system.

evohome is compatible with both traditional boilers and modern high-efficiency combi boilers and heat pumps. It can be used to control underfloor heating, which is often installed as the heat emitter alongside heat pumps. Settings for stored hot water and radiators can also be managed via evohome, making it a highly versatile solution now and into the future.

Cooling functionality
As some heat pumps can cool as well as heat, cooling control will become a new application for those installing a smart control, like evohome. The feature allows end users to easily switch the system between heating and cooling mode, and installer to select which rooms are suitable for cooling. Low temperature water being circulated around the radiators or underfloor circuits absorbs excessive heat in the home and helps keep the rooms comfortable in summer.

Due to the pandemic, we are now spending more time in our homes, meaning that heating demands are changing. A recent survey by Resideo of 2,000 homeowners found 37% would buy a smart thermostat to save money on energy bills, and 24% said this would also enable them to have greater control over the temperature of their home. So, by having a smart zoning feature available, customers can control the temperature in rooms they aren’t using, therefore saving energy and money.

This functionality requires additional radiator thermostats to wirelessly measure and control temperatures in individual spaces, which offers installers a valuable opportunity to customers. In the case of evohome, up to 12 different room temperatures (or zones) can be created across the home without the need to disturb decor.

This can work for those installing a heat pump too. However, a heat pump which regularly switches on and off cannot run efficiently, leaving the homeowners unable to reap the full financial benefits of this technology. So, if a property with a heat pump is split into different zones, care will need to be taken to avoid ‘over-zoning’ and ensure that the amount of heat called for through the control stays within the modulation capabilities of the heat pump.

Smart weather control
When we head into the spring and summer months and the outside weather warms up, naturally the need to heat our homes reduces. Yet, we all know temperatures can drop during transition months leaving us with an unexpected chilly snap.

Advances in technology mean homeowners can rely on smarter control offerings to navigate temperature fluctuations during seasonal transition periods. Here the control monitors outside weather temperatures and communicates with the heating system to adjust the temperature within the property, so that the system is running as efficiently as possible.

Making even more of this function, the smart weather feature on the evohome system is designed to improve control of each of the zone temperatures, reducing the heating system’s energy usage based on the outside temperature, room temperature, the setpoint for the room, and a unique feature that learns the heat losses in each room.

This is particularly useful in rooms where poor insulation or large windows can make it feel less comfortable when the outside temperature drops. Here, evohome’s cold weather boost will increase the set temperature when it detects a drop outside and automatically go back to normal when the outside temperature rises again. This keeps comfort levels of the room where they should be without using unnecessary energy.

The same applies to the warm weather saver option. Again, it will follow the set programme to run on cooler days but will automatically reduce or switch off the heating when it warms up outside or the room temperature increases.

Advanced load scaling
Load scaling, where a boiler only fires to the power needed to get the room to the desired temperature, has been around for some years. However, taking this further, evohome’s patented Advanced Load Scaling technology automatically learns each zone’s heat capacity to better control the boiler’s output. This limits inefficient high return temperatures and runs the boiler in its most efficient mode.

With Government targets currently aiming for a reduction in CO2 emissions by 78% of 1990 levels by 2035, the way we heat and cool our homes and generate hot water is going to change rapidly over the next few years and beyond. By having a universal solution to control how appliances consume energy across multiple zones, and, importantly, being able to sell these features to customers, installers are well placed to help homeowners save money and energy, whilst at the same time helping move heating systems towards being more sustainable now and in the future.

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