Efficiency is the hot topic for water specification

Recent changes to Building Regulations are driving a greater focus on water use and the heat used for domestic hot water. Here, Suzannah Adey of Mira Showers looks at the impact of these, and forward to future changes

The aim of the Future Homes Standard is to ensure new homes built from 2025 produce 75-80% fewer carbon emissions than homes built under the old regulations. While these improvements will inevitably help future homes to reduce their carbon footprint and energy use, the homeowner will expect the same if not higher living standards. Indeed, as building efficiency improves through space insulation, so will the percentage share of energy attributed to hot water increase. This could see hot water generation become the largest portion of a household’s energy budget. 

As hot water production is already the second highest user of energy in an average UK home, with showering representing 50% of household hot water use, it’s important that bathroom and shower designers consider reducing energy and hot water demand in a home. As a result, the need for shower manufacturers to provide energy efficient showers will be an important factor in housing specification. 

The Future Homes Standard – for a cleaner, greener built environment

With the aim of reducing the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, the Government believes the regulation changes are a vital step towards a cleaner, greener built environment. 

It’s therefore incredibly important that architects start looking at how they can meet these targets now. Of course, creating more sustainable technologies and meeting the rigorous requirements will be crucial for creating energy-efficient homes. 

With sustainability a key aspect of the built environment’s future, extensive decarbonisation should be at the forefront of their minds. One of the most effective ways of reducing a home’s
carbon footprint is the improvement of heating and hot water systems and the reduction of heat waste.  

Showers & the Standard Assessment Procedure

Hot water delivery and showering plays a huge role in a property’s energy use, meaning showers are an incredibly important aspect of the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for the energy rating of dwellings. SAP assesses how much energy a dwelling will use while delivering a defined level of service provision and comfort and are based on standardised assumptions for occupancy and behaviour. 

To enable the assessment of the energy efficiency rating and emissions of CO2, SAP quantifies a dwelling’s performance in terms of energy use per unit floor area. These indicators are based on estimates of annual energy consumption for the provision of lighting, domestic hot water, ventilation and space heating.  

Making the connection between showers & sustainability targets

Around 85-90% of the heat energy in shower water is lost down the drain during a shower, meaning a significant amount of the total average household energy budget is lost. This percentage is likely to increase too, with homes becoming more insulated. 

It’s therefore down to providers to look at how innovation can be utilised to reduce the amount of heat energy that’s lost down the drain. By incorporating a Waste Water Heat Recovery System (WWHRS), the amount of energy required per shower and the CO2 associated with the production of hot water is reduced. 

Up to 65% of the energy that normally remains in shower waste water and enters the drain could be recovered and then used to preheat the cold incoming water, with WWHRS. This reduces the energy required to run the shower and/or the domestic hot water heater.  

It’s therefore the responsibility of manufacturers, architects and developers to leverage cutting-edge technology and utilise highly sustainable materials to improve the showering experience while limiting environmental impact. As a result, they will be able to meet the amended Part L Building Regulations, which aim to reduce the carbon output of new dwellings by 31%. 

With building quality and sustainability requirements having never been higher, shower manufacturers and the construction industry as a whole have a key part to play in working together and planning for the future. 

While regulations may change, one thing will remain constant – the need for all UK buildings to be designed and constructed with sustainability in mind. In fact, it is becoming increasingly important for bathroom and shower designers to see sustainability as essential, not just optional. By working together, architects, product manufacturers, contractors and designers can all enable the built environment to have a positive impact on the planet in the years to come.  

Suzannah Adey is product marketing manager at Mira Showers