The LOT20 Directive to ensure the efficiency of electric heaters has been in force since January 2018.

The headline rule is – the installation of heaters without controls is not permitted. This has been remedied by new installations being fulfilled using integrated control heaters available from many manufacturers.

This is acceptable for domestic situations where an easy to use, 24 hour/7 day programmer satisfies the occupants need to adjust the comfort of their environment, easily.

In more demanding situations, such as student accommodation, these domestic heaters are, at face value, a cost-effective solution. However, when their features are compared with a control unit specifically designed for these environments, the savings made on hardware and installation are soon eroded by higher energy costs.

But why would the energy costs be higher?

Although the majority of integrated control heaters are designed to avoid children being able to tamper with the controls, in university dwellings, students will take 5 minutes to Google the control, establishing that pressing two buttons simultaneously, or holding a button down for 3 seconds, immediately gives them access to control temperature, which can then be set and left at maximum, permanently. Within a few more minutes a social media post relays this ‘heating hack’ to all fellow occupants and suddenly the meter starts whirring like a Waltzer at the fun-fair.

A control unit such as the Prefect Ecostat2 has been designed specifically for student accommodation and its features and benefits far exceed those of its domestic rivals.

Ecostat2 is a fully lockable unit, where the temperature ranges are set within pre-agreed parameters. Students can hit Boost to warm up, but after a set period the unit enters Setback mode. The PIR senses occupancy, so, if a room is empty, the unit resets avoiding unnecessary energy use, and if a room is unoccupied for longer periods, Ecostat2 will enter Frost-mode using only minimal heat. Boost, Setback and Frost is known as the three-stage student program.

Although fitted with 7-day programming, many accommodation managers prefer the tried and tested Ecostat2 three-stage student program to maximise energy savings.

The drive to manage costs in student accommodation is admirable but, saving on the hardware and installation by fitting inferior technology could leave energy managers scratching their heads and wondering why their costs have, in fact, risen!