It’s tempting to think that the seemingly endless stream of EU directives, forcing us to use more expensive, energy efficient products, might come to an end when Brexit frees us from the shackles of Brussels bureaucracy.
Not so. They took away our light bulbs, then it was our vacuum cleaners. What next? Well, everything is under scrutiny. However, many of those directives, if not most, have been initiated by a UK government keen to satisfy our carbon reduction targets and that is unlikely to change when we don’t have to ask the EU to draft the directives.
Positive thinking and action is needed. Yes, today, many newer, more efficient technologies represent an additional capital cost to the end user but there are financial incentives and shorter and shorter paybacks.
Consider heating, usually the highest energy cost for an individual and for a business. In the past decade, depending on your outlook, we have been forced or convinced to use condensing gas boilers for our homes. And now the same pressures will be applied to commercial heating, with EU directives legislating in favour of condensing space heaters for warehouses and workshops.
Ultimately, there will be no choice when replacing your old inefficient heaters; you’ll have to install a condensing version. Currently, there is still a choice. But there are also financial inducements. Condensing heaters qualify for Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA), meaning that 100% of the cost, including installation, can be claimed as a tax credit, whether the company is in profit or not. But even without that incentive, the improvement in running costs affords a fast payback.
Take a typical warehouse of 600sqm, with an average roof height of five metres and one air change an hour. Built in the 1980s, it has a peak heat loss of 118kW. The existing heaters are 20 years old with an efficiency of 70%. The current annual gas bill, based on 4p/kwh is likely to be £8,000 per annum. A new installation of two Robur G60 condensing gas heaters costs £10,000, probably less. But in return, that installation offers an efficiency of 104% and an annual saving of £2,615. Even without considering ECA and the reduced cost of maintenance, the payback is less than four years. A juicy carrot.