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Heating upgrade and solar heating

Homeowners can typically reduce their energy usage by up to 20% by installing a high efficiency boiler as a
replacement for older lower efficiency models or by installing easy to use heating controls in their
home and using these controls in an efficient manner. There are also solar solutions for heating the water.

High efficiency boiler upgrade

There is now €560 grant aid available through the SEAI Better Energy Homes scheme to help you improve your home using high efficiency heating gas or oil boiler upgrade with heating controls.

Older conventional boilers can be wasteful of energy and costly to run because a significant portion of the heat is lost up the flue/chimney. The latest models of high efficiency boilers capture more of this heat, which would otherwise be lost.

What is the high efficiency boiler?

For the purposes of Better Energy Home scheme, high efficiency boilers are regarded as boilers with an efficiency of greater than 90%. This means that in excess of 90% of the fuel burned by the boiler will be converted to useful heat. The upper efficiency limit of most boilers installed prior to 2008 is approximately 78%, however it is likely that older boilers are running at significantly lower efficiencies than this.

There is the HARP database is a product database for home-heating appliances that are used in Ireland. The database allows consumers to check the compliance of boilers against the Boiler Efficiency Directive and is also used as a resource in the boiler efficiency promotion campaign. Any boiler installed under the remit of the Home Energy Savings scheme must be approved on the SEAI HARP database or equivalent and have a seasonal efficiency of over 90%. The SEAI HARP database is available online at

If you decide to install a new boiler, please be sure to ask your supplier about the boiler size (i.e. kW rating). An oversized boiler can be very wasteful of energy. If you have recently upgraded your insulation or glazing for example, a like for like replacement may not be the most suitable solution for you.

The benefits of high efficiency boilers:

  • Reduction in heating bills

  • Reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions

  • Increased comfort levels

When it's the time to upgrade for high efficency boiler?

  • When you are spending increasing amounts of money replacing parts on my current boiler

  • When your boiler service engineer recommend that you change your boiler soon

  • When your heating bill has been increasing in recent years

  • When your current boiler is too big for my needs. (For example there are less people in your house now and you need less heat and hot water)

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Heating controls upgrade

There is now €400 grant aid available through the SEAI Better Energy Homes scheme to help you improve your home using heating controls upgrade only.


What does heating control upgrade mean?

Adequate heating controls can help a homeowner to accurately match your space heating and hot water schedules to the working and living patterns at the house i.e. when heat and hot water are required, it is there; when it is not, it is turned off.

As a minimum, your heating systems should be split into two independently controlled "zones". They are your 'Space Heating Zone' and your 'Domestic Hot Water Zone'. This allows you to heat your domestic hot water without being forced to turn on your space heating. Additional zones can also be put in place in large homes to split upstairs and downstairs or living areas and bedrooms.

For the purposes of Better Energy Home scheme, you need to install all of the below upgrade solutions:

  • Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV's)

  • 7-Day Programmable Timer

  • Boiler Interlock

  • Time and Temperature Control of Electric Immersion Heater (Hot Water Cylinder

The benefits of heating control upgrade:

  • Reduction in heating bills

  • Reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions

  • Increased comfort levels

When it's the time to upgrade for heating controls?

  • When you can't heat your domestic hot water without switching on your radiators or an electric immersion heater

  • When you can't turn on your heating without heating your domestic hot water

  • When you can't easily adjust the heat output from radiators in the rooms you use most often

  • When you don't have you temperature control on your boiler

  • When you don't have time control on your boiler that you can set for different days of the week

  • When you don't have a separate temperature control for your hot water cylinder

  • When you don't have a separate time control on your hot water cylinder

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Solar panels / solar hot water heating

There is now €800 grant aid available through the SEAI Better Energy Homes scheme to help you improve your home using solar hot water heating.

Solar hot water systems are designed to meet a certain percentage of your overall hot water requirement over the year. In a typical dwelling, this is usually 50-60% of the annual hot water requirement, but this can vary depending on economics and hot water requirements. The higher your hot water usage, the more beneficial a solar hot water system will be, as more "free" energy will be used.

Solar hot water systems are usually made up of two main components:

  • The solar collector array (flat plate or evacuated tube)

  • The cylinder (usually a "dual" or "twin" coil cylinder)

The cylinder is a very important part of the system - its job is to provide efficient storage for the free heat the solar collectors have produced. Between the solar collector array and the cylinder, insulation of pipework is important, as is the control (sensors, pumps etc.) and the security of the system (expansion vessel, safety valves etc.)

There are many different brands of solar thermal collectors on the market and many suppliers to choose from. Choosing a system might at first appear a daunting task, however, the guidance below will assist you in making the correct decision for your needs.

There are two main types of solar collector available on the market, flat plate and evacuated tube. Within these two main categories there are also sub-types, but for now, it is sufficient to outline the main differences between the two types of collector.

Flat Plate Solar Collector

  • Can be mounted both "in-roof" and on-roof

  • Heavy, rigid, robust box-like structure

  • Can be more optically appealing due to flat surface areas

Evacuated Tube Solar Collector

  • Can only be mounted on-roof

  • Lightweight structure, individual tubes on frame

  • On average 20% more yield per m2 of aperture area than flat plates

A useful rule of thumb for sizing a solar hot water system (for information purposes only) are as follows:

  • 1–1.5 m2 of flat-plate collector area per person. Note: the aperture area is the area through which light enters in m2 should be used.

  • 0.8–1.2m2 of evacuated tube area per person. Note: the aperture area is the area through which light enters in m2 should be used.

  • Average hot water consumption per person = 40 litres per day (this informs the cylinder size).

  • However to meet the technical specification of the grant, the solar water heating installation must meet the 10kWh/m2/yr as calculated in the Building Energy Rating software DEAP version 3.1.0.

For example, a 4 person household with South facing solar collectors, no shading, mounted at a 45º angle

  • could install either a flat plate installation of 4 - 6m2 or an evacuated tube installation of 3.2–4.8m2

  • The hot water demand of this household is approx 160 litres/day and the required cylinder volume can now be sized. Generally, for solar, the cylinder should be sized to accommodate approx 1-2 days usage, in this case 160 x 2 = approx. 320 litres.

Is your house suitable for solar collectors?

Collectors facing South will receive the optimum amount of energy. Generally, anywhere between 30- 45º is optimal for the tilt angle. Deviations from South to SE / SW will only affect output by approximately 5%, and even East/West systems are feasible. It is important to add the required amount of collector area to compensate for any expected reduction in energy due to mounting position, location, or for expected reductions due to possible sources of shading such as trees.

Are solar installations exempt from planning?

Yes, but total collector area must not exceed 12m2 or 50% of the total roof area.

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Based on materials from Sustainable Energy Ireland website 

If you want to arrange a free survey at your home and get the quote for heating upgrade or solar heating , please contact us.

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