Would heat re­cov­ery sys­tem help re­duce our car­bon foot­print?

The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - Advice -

QOur bun­ga­low house was built circa 1984. In 2012, af­ter I re­tired, we did some re­me­dial work on our house which in­cluded in­creas­ing at­tic in­su­la­tion, hav­ing outer walls pumped with bead in­su­la­tion, and re­plac­ing our oil boiler.

I re­cently read an ar­ti­cle about a sys­tem which re­cov­ers heat from ven­ti­la­tion units placed in var­i­ous rooms in the build­ing which would pro­vide heat in the build­ing. I was won­der­ing if this sys­tem would help with the heat­ing of our home and there­fore help in re­duc­ing our car­bon foot­print?

AThere is an in­creas­ing drive to­wards en­ergy ef­fi­ciency or low-car­bon foot­prints and rightly so as we have been prof­li­gate with the easy avail­abil­ity of cheap fos­sil fu­els. These are rapidly com­ing to an end and it’s past time to re­ally en­gage with en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, so con­grat­u­la­tions on the steps you have taken so far.

The Gov­ern­ment is also ad­dress­ing this is­sue with re­vised build­ing reg­u­la­tions com­ing into force in April next year for both en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and ven­ti­la­tion as part of the near-zero en­ergy build­ings (nZEB) ini­tia­tive im­ple­mented by the Euro­pean Union since 2010. You will also note that the Sus­tain­able En­ergy Au­thor­ity of Ire­land (SEAI) is push­ing hard on the up­take of grants for home im­prove­ments to­wards en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

Ther­mally ef­fi­cient and air­tight homes sound great but with­out ad­e­quate ven­ti­la­tion they can be very un­healthy. It is rec­om­mended that air in an oc­cu­pied room needs to be changed at least three times ev­ery hour, that’s three sets of hard-gar­nered en­ergy that will es­cape with that warm, stale air. This is a sig­nif­i­cant en­ergy loss in an oth­er­wise en­ergy-ef­fi­cient home but it’s es­sen­tial for health rea­sons.

A num­ber of com­pa­nies have recog­nised the de­mand in this area and most of their sys­tems claim up to 100 per cent ef­fi­ciency. How­ever, to be clear, that means that only half the en­ergy can be re­cov­ered. Sim­ply put, if your set tem­per­a­ture is 20 de­grees and it’s zero out­side then the sys­tem can save only 10 de­grees, mean­ing the fresh air will come in at half the dif­fer­ence, eg 10 de­grees. Typ­i­cally it’s less, but this is still help­ful be­cause it’s bet­ter than the tem­per­a­ture out­side.

I have no­ticed in a num­ber of homes I have in­spected that the units are turned off in win­ter be­cause of the per­cep­tion of a rel­a­tively cold draught lead­ing to the po­ten­tial of an un­healthy home, so it is very im­por­tant to fully un­der­stand what such a sys­tem does and to op­er­ate it to the man­u­fac­turer’s in­struc­tions.

The new zeit­geist in this area – al­ready pop­u­lar in Scan­di­navia – is heat re­cov­ery ven­ti­la­tion with in­built heat pump in the ex­haust air. These sys­tems fully con­trol en­ergy move­ment be­cause a small heat pump in the sys­tem moves re­quired en­ergy from the out­go­ing stale air to al­ways main­tain the set tem­per­a­ture in the in­com­ing fresh air. They also re­cover spare en­ergy to heat the hot wa­ter tank.

We are find­ing that year-round healthy, warm homes can be de­signed with such sys­tems, which are less costly to in­stall than tra­di­tional heat­ing sys­tems and are ex­tremely ef­fi­cient to run. Added ben­e­fits in­clude their cool­ing ef­fect dur­ing hot sum­mers and en­sur­ing that healthy, warm air is al­ways main­tained through­out the home.

I hope that the up­com­ing changes to the SEAI’s “dwelling en­ergy as­sess­ment pro­ce­dure” soft­ware for as­sess­ing en­ergy rat­ings (BERs) recog­nises the ben­e­fit of these sys­tems that don’t re­quire large out­side en­ergy in­puts, as al­ready recog­nised in much colder coun­tries; and, cou­pled with so­lar pan­els, they are a great way to reach nZEB stan­dard.

I hope this helps you in re­search­ing a de­ci­sion to­wards your zero-car­bon fu­ture. Fer­gus Mer­ri­man is a mem­ber of the So­ci­ety of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors Ire­land.

QWe went sale agreed on a prop­erty in Dublin. The build­ing sur­veyor re­port high­lighted is­sues with electrics and rec­om­mended the house be rewired. We re­duced our of­fer on the house and this was not ac­cepted by the agent/ven­dor. The agent im­me­di­ately put the house back on the mar­ket with­out even at­tempt­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with us. We feel that we have no op­tion but to look for other houses but pre­fer the one we went sale agreed on. How best can we ap­proach to open some di­a­logue with the agent and ven­dor as we feel that there is still room for ne­go­ti­a­tion?

AThe sell­ing agent, who is act­ing for the ven­dor, has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to the ven­dor to achieve the best sale agree­ment pos­si­ble. When a pur­chaser’s sur­veyor finds that a prop­erty re­quires rewiring, then a copy of the rel­e­vant part of this sur­vey could be shown to the agent to­gether with a quote from a suit­ably qual­i­fied elec­tri­cian for ver­i­fi­ca­tion on cost.

Then the agent can go back to the ven­dor and can of­ten me­di­ate be­tween ven­dor and pur­chaser to come to some agree­ment such as split­ting the cost of works re­quired.

How­ever, it can also be the case that the agent, who gen­er­ally knows more about the ven­dor’s sit­u­a­tion, may have been in­structed by the ven­dor at the out­set or at the sale agreed stage what the min­i­mum ac­cept­able price is likely to be, re­gard­less of the re­sult of a sub­se­quent sur­vey.

In such cases, if the agent, af­ter re­vert­ing back to their client with the sur­vey re-

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or to Prop­erty Clinic, The Ir­ish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. This col­umn is a read­ers’ ser­vice. The con­tent of the Prop­erty Clinic is pro­vided for gen­eral in­for­ma­tion only. It is not in­tended as ad­vice on which read­ers should rely. Pro­fes­sional or spe­cial­ist ad­vice should be ob­tained be­fore per­sons take or re­frain from any ac­tion on the ba­sis of the con­tent. The Ir­ish Times and its con­trib­u­tors will not be li­able for any loss or dam­age aris­ing from re­liance on any con­tent. sults, is still in­structed not to rene­go­ti­ate, then it is out of the re­mit of the agent and the agent has no au­thor­ity to rene­go­ti­ate the price. If in­structed by the ven­dor, the prop­erty will be placed back on the mar­ket.

I know of a sim­i­lar case re­cently where a price was agreed and at the out­set the sell- ing agent ad­vised the pur­chaser, at the re­quest of the ven­dor, that there would be no rene­go­ti­a­tion what­so­ever on the price re­gard­less of any sur­vey re­sults. The pur­chasers came back to the agent af­ter their sur­vey, in­sist­ing that the ven­dor carry out wood­worm treat­ment.

The cost in­volved was by no means sub­stan­tial but the ven­dor ad­hered to the orig­i­nal agree­ment and viewed the pur­chaser’s re­quest as “chang­ing the goal­posts” from the agree­ment.

The ven­dor then in­structed the agent to re­mar­ket the prop­erty im­me­di­ately where­upon they resold the prop­erty to an­other pur­chaser for the same price. Had the orig­i­nal pur­chasers ad­hered to the orig­i­nal point of sale agree­ment of “no rene­go­ti­a­tion” as stressed to them upon agree­ing of the sale, then they would have been suc­cess­ful in their bid to buy the house.

Typ­i­cally, in many cases where a sur­vey points out some is­sue/is­sues to be ad­dressed, the agent can act as a me­di­a­tor be­tween ven­dor and pur­chaser as out­lined but ul­ti­mately in the ven­dor’s in­ter­est. The agent must al­ways act on the ven­dor’s in­struc­tions pro­vided these in­struc­tions are rea­son­able. Roger Berke­ley is a char­tered res­i­den­tial sur­veyor and mem­ber of the So­ci­ety of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors Ire­land.

A heat re­cov­ery sys­tem can help re­duce your car­bon foot­print.

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