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How To Avoid Hot Water Problems in Apartments
The lack of hot water from a communal hot water system is guaranteed to cause serious dissatisfaction amongst tenants and/or property owners – especially when it affects the entire building.
So, whilst many organisations have used central plants to provide the heating and hot water to the entire building, using heat interface units as a space saving solution to supply the hot water, many are now experiencing ongoing issues and costs.
Typical Problems with Communal Hot Water Systems with Heat Interface Units:
- Low pressure
- Maintenance costs
- Piping to apartments
- Size of plant required to generate energy
- No back up hot water supply
- Required run time of the central plant and the associated Energy costs
And with a real growth in apartment living caused by the UK wide housing shortage, the challenge is only going to intensify, both in the new build market as well as refurbishment of existing stock.
So what is the best hot water storage solution for apartment blocks with central plants?
Smart companies are now looking at installing small thermal storage systems in individual apartments enabling them to deliver mains pressure hot water solutions which are safe, reliable, energy efficient and, most importantly, cost effective.
Using thermal stores with central plant systems can deliver the following key benefits:
1. Thermal Stores Can Dramatically Reduce Running Costs
Heat Interface systems require the distribution network to be kept on and hot 24h a day even when space heating is not required whereas with hot water storage in individual apartments, the network only need to run for limited time and on average twice a day in summer.
By decoupling the hot water from the central source, the thermal store approach also enables the hot water to be heated when it is more economical, eg, when cheaper fuel tariffs are available or when renewable heat source is available.
This delivers major savings on energy and running costs.
2. Thermal Stores Can Dramatically Reduce Plant Specification and Costs
The installation of thermal stores in individual apartments will also result in a cost saving on the specification of the central plant and pipework.
As the hot water is supplied by the thermal store locally in the apartment, the peak power demand is greatly reduced which in turn requires a smaller plant and smaller distribution pipework.
3. Thermal Stores Can Ensure Diversity of Hot Water
One of the major risks associated with the central plant and HIU approach is the real possibility of the entire hot water supply being down, for example, due to system failure or the need to carry out servicing in the central boiler.
And with absolutely no back up facility in place, this scenario is going to cause some seriously unhappy tenants or property owners.
The thermal store, on the other hand, not only provides a localised solution but can also be fitted with an electric immersion heater which can be used either as a backup device for heating hot water or for increasing the hot water supply temperature.
4. Thermal Stores Ensure Simplification of Installation
Another major benefit from installing a thermal store as opposed to an unvented system which could deliver the mains pressure is there is no need for discharge pipework or pressure and temperature relief valves to comply with key requirements of G3 of building regulations.
Achieving a suitable position of discharge pipework can obviously present a real issue when dealing with high rise apartment blocks.
5. Thermal Stores Are Virtually Maintenance Free
One of the real advantages of a thermal store system, particularly over other hot water cylinders such as unvented systems, is the fact that it requires virtually zero maintenance, therefore avoiding the need to co-ordinate access with tenants and owners.
As its not a pressurised system, it also does not come under G3 of the building regulations and therefore doesn’t need certification to install or carry out maintenance.
Potential Costs and Legal Action
We all understand the impact of unhappy tenants, however if you fail to ensure they can enjoy a satisfactory communal hot water system, you could face legal action.
According to the government funded organisation, LEASE, which was set up to provide independent advice on residential leasehold and park homes, tenants can seek an injunction, order for specific performance and/or damages as well as recovering their costs.
Find out more at lease-advice.org