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How Heating Better, Faster and Cheaper Helps Social Housing Providers Achieve Their Low Carbon Mission

By Martin Allman Nov 8, 2022
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At Mixergy we believe that tackling fuel poverty and decarbonising housing stock come hand in hand. This is why Mixergy’s smart hot water tanks are fast becoming a ‘no regrets’ solution for housing providers to make the challenging transition to low carbon heating.

Ambitious policy and tightening regulations are rapidly accelerating the uptake of Mixergy tanks in new build housing where systems can be easily installed alongside heat pumps, solar PV, and solar thermal, as well as conventional boilers or electric heating systems.

But the greater challenge (and opportunity) lies in the decarbonisation of heat in existing housing stock where landlords are grappling with solutions to work with a diverse range of heating systems. Even more pressingly, tenants are faced with unprecedented high energy bills and an increasing risk of falling into fuel poverty.

Mixergy tanks support social housing providers in the transition from the old to the new with smart, connected hot water storage which gives tenants a better, faster, and cheaper solution for their hot water needs whilst also reducing carbon emissions.

 

HELPING TENANTS REDUCE THEIR ENERGY BILLS

First, it’s about the economics and how Mixergy tanks can help tenants to cut their energy bills.

Dumb conventional hot water tanks take hours to heat up and are incredibly inefficient in that the whole volume of water needs to be heated. This means that residents are wasting energy and money heating water they will not use.

The Mixergy tank on the other hand is intelligent and only heats what you need. We do this using our unique patent-protected technology which works by exploiting thermal stratification, heating the tank from the top down, unlike anyone else. By only heating what you need (actually this is typically just 40-50% of the tank volume), you get faster heating and lower heat losses, saving energy (and money) every time a full tank is not heated.

Mixergy cutaway tank

Mixergy tanks can easily be programmed to take advantage of off-peak tariffs (like Economy 7 or 10) or new dynamic time-of-use tariffs. This means tanks can be set up to use smart scheduling to prioritise heating water only during the cheap periods – delivering further savings of between 10% and 40% on hot water bills.

For tenants on mains gas, the Energy Savings Trust has verified that Mixergy tanks can save up to 21% of gas consumption through better, smarter control of the cylinder set-point temperature. Tests also showed that the Mixergy tank is the most efficient cylinder tested in every department, outperforming other top branded cylinders.

Aside from these direct savings, Mixergy tanks provide a zero-cost way for tenants to improve their understanding of energy efficiency, empowering them to realise additional savings on their bills by being able to interact through a simple gauge or the Mixergy App. At the same time, social landlords can help their tenants to better program their heating systems and avoid unnecessary energy consumption and costs.

 

HELPING SOCIAL LANDLORDS DECARBONISE THEIR HOUSING STOCK

For years social housing providers have played a leading role in the nascent energy transition, decarbonising homes through a melee of government initiatives and ad hoc funding streams. As the current UK Government and devolved administrations commit to even more ambitious targets for decarbonisation of homes, it seems certain that social housing will be front and centre of what promises to be a massive retrofit challenge.

Schemes such as the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) in England, and the Welsh Government backed Optimised Retrofit Programme (ORP) are tackling the issue head on with an ambitious programme to develop the local green economy and contribute to the decarbonisation goal. But how to do it?

Optimising the use of zero and low carbon energy is a key function of the Mixergy tank. As well as being designed to operate with multiple energy sources now, our system is future-proofed for the roll-out of low and zero carbon alternatives in the years ahead – like heat pumps, solar, and perhaps hydrogen.

But these technology innovations will not be delivered overnight. Social housing providers will be grappling with the phase out of natural gas and oil boilers for the next 10 years and more. Simply installing a Mixergy tank to an existing boiler can reduce average gas consumption for hot water production by 12%. And should the time come for the boiler to be replaced by a heat pump, all Mixergy tanks are ‘heat pump ready’ such that you can easily make the change to your heating system without worrying about the cylinder.

The Mixergy tank can also harness free solar energy through a PV diverter. This means you can easily connect a PV array to the tank to heat water using the spare electricity being generated from the sun which would otherwise go to the grid. In this way, the Mixergy tank acts like a lithium-ion battery solution, but 4-5 times less expensive. As well as this, the Mixergy tank also can connect to solar water heating panels which can then use a boiler or immersion to top-up the tank in winter months.

Only heating what you need, the Mixergy controller can ensure that a larger portion of the tank is available for surplus renewable energy to heat the water. This is unlike conventional cylinders which reduce the opportunity to optimise the self-consumption of renewable energy by heating the entirety of the tank by default. And because of the smart controls which are built-in to the Mixergy tank, each system can be optimised to prioritise the lowest cost and lowest carbon energy source.

The Mixergy tank is now exclusively featured in the SAP Appendix Q product database, allowing housing providers to factor the additional carbon savings into the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP and RdSAP), upon which Environmental Performance Certificates (EPCs) and Dwelling Emission rates are based. This means that housing providers who install a Mixergy tank will now be able to accurately calculate and report its effect on the energy efficiency of a heating and hot water system – and include that information in the dwelling’s overall EPC rating.

 

MIXERGY SERVICE PROVISION FOR OPTIMISED MANAGEMENT AND REDUCED OPERATING COSTS

We understand that optimising the operating costs of systems installed in social housing stock can create real savings for overstretched budgets, enabling funds to be re-invested on improvements elsewhere. Mixergy’s cloud connectivity and enterprise dashboard lets housing management teams remotely monitor their fleet of tank through a single IOT platform. Valuable data insights can then be uncovered to inform pre-emptive and planned maintenance.

By having remote access to the status of the Mixergy tank, and insights into what a fault might be, maintenance managers and contractors can better manage operations. Minor issues can potentially be solved remotely over the phone with the tenant – saving a trip on an unnecessary engineer call-out. More complex problems can be diagnosed remotely such that when the engineer does go to site, they do so with the right parts and an understanding of what needs to be done, increasing first time fix rates. This provides a better service to tenants and supports a more positive dialogue with the landlord and their contractors.

Mixergy’s free software and firmware updates can be delivered remotely to ensure tenants have the most up-to-date systems. In the same way, new product and service solutions can be made available to landlords as they come available.

Mixergy also offers clear benefits from a health and safety perspective by monitoring and controlling the water environment to prevent unhygienic conditions. A fortnightly sterilisation routine ensures water is automatically heated to a high enough temperature to prevent the harbouring of harmful bacteria such as legionella. For vulnerable tenants, control of the hot water temperature to prevent scolding can also be tracked and monitored through the Mixergy dashboard.

 

AND ABOVE ALL IT’S JUST BETTER

From a social landlord’s perspective, replacing an old, inefficient hot water tank with a modern, well-insulated cylinder with smart controls, provides a low-cost, high value solution to reduce carbon emissions, whether it be operating alongside newly installed low carbon technology or existing heating equipment. Our smart hot water tanks provide a clear value proposition and are well understood by residents, installers and maintenance contractors. Additional benefits such as ease of management, remote diagnosis, and future retrofit options for heat-pumps or hydrogen ready gas boilers add further appeal.

All of these benefits enable social landlords to make significant carbon reductions at a considerably lower cost than with other technologies, whilst also providing their tenants with hot water supply, which is just so much better, and so much cheaper.

 

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