18 March 2019

Five uncomfortable truths about PIV heaters

By Paul Harrington

18 March 2019

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Condensation season has long been the bugbear of landlords across the nation as it can cause long-lasting and costly damage to properties.

One solution is Positive Input Ventilation (PIV), known to supply fresh filtered air into homes to tackle and prevent mould growth and condensation dampness as well as improving indoor air quality. Only in relatively recent years have they been offered with electric heaters to address complaints about colder air entering the home during the winter months.

Since then, PIV units with heaters have become an established requirement for many social housing providers. Yet with both energy prices and the use of smart meters on the rise, an innovation that was originally intended to increase tenant acceptability could now be responsible for hindering it.

So, not all PIV units are the same. Here are five truths to help distinguish the efficient from the inefficient:

  1. PIV units are renowned for their low upfront cost and minimal energy usage. But coupling them with built-in heaters undermines the low energy credentials, with some tenants reporting a hike in their energy bills after installation.
  2. These systems typically consume 500 watts of power (or 100 times that of a non-heated version) and running costs can be as much as £1 a day when the heater is enabled. It’s therefore easy to see why this sudden increase in energy usage and cost would be a problem for anyone with a low income.
  3. It is important to provide a ventilation system that meets the whole dwelling ventilation requirements of Approved Document F with as much intelligence and adjustment as possible. This will avoid under-ventilation and poor performance, as well as over-ventilation, which can lead to increased energy costs.
  4. By removing the heater and choosing a more adjustable and intelligent PIV system to better suit the property and its occupants, the central heating system (which will often use gas) can be relied upon to top-up the temperature to the required comfort levels much more cost effectively.
  5. As it stands, many specifications still require PIV units with built-in heaters and, while at Elta Fans we have done everything we can to reduce the impact of this for tenants and landlords, the industry needs to move away from an over-reliance on heaters, and towards more measured and targeted ventilation.

A more efficient solution?

To reduce energy usage even further, Elta Fans’ SANO Intelligent PIV with Eco-LoFlo technology measures the temperature and moisture content of the air being delivered into the home. It is capable of automatically adjusting air flow in colder months when the air is a lot dryer. As such, smaller quantities can be used to achieve the high levels of ventilation effectiveness that are needed to tackle condensation dampness and mould growth. This ensures optimum airflow and provides the most efficient ventilation rates for the conditions, reducing running costs and improving comfort levels.

The sooner honest conversations are had with social housing providers and landlords about running costs, false economies and fuel poverty, the better.

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