Diversifying heating solutions for an eco-conscious market

For decades, and still to this day, traditionally fuelled appliances have been the staple for both domestic and commercial applications. While there will always be a market for boilers, cookers and open fireplaces, the high environmental impact of these appliances has come under scrutiny in recent years as the market has gradually evolved to have an environmentally conscious mindset.

Diversifying heating solutions for an eco-conscious market

With this evolution heightening demand for renewable tech, Sean Keleher, Technical Director for Navien UK, explores how the boiler and heating appliances manufacturer is investing in reducing the impact of traditionally fuelled appliances and discusses how it is diversifying its product offering.

Blue flame technology

Rather than yellow flame, Navien only uses blue flame technology to produce a cleaner and more efficient burn of fuel that delivers superior efficiency and ultra-low NOx emissions. The LCB700 Blue Flame range of oil boilers are the first in the UK market to offer an A+ energy rating and produce low levels of CO and NOx.

A blue flame is produced by an oil boiler where the combustion gases within the blue flame burner recirculate. This recirculation process burns off high concentrations of NOx emissions, giving low NOx, better fuel consumption and a soot-free blue flame.

A yellow flame, on the other hand, is cooler and produces more soot and carbon monoxide. Navien only sells blue flame oil boilers in the UK market, providing consumers with an existing, superior technology without the premium price tag. An industry leader – especially in rural applications and properties off the main gas grid – the LCB700 Blue Flame range is available as either a regular, system or combi boiler in both internal and external models, is designed with stainless steel heat exchangers for optimum durability and efficiency and is Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) compatible.

HVO – ‘The green liquid fuel’

Many people are still reliant on oil-fired boilers –especially those in rural areas– but it is vital for manufacturers and industry groups to join and embrace HVO as a more environmentally friendly fuel. HVO is a fossil-free fuel, a sustainably produced, renewable paraffin that comes from used cooking oil and vegetable oil processing waste. Converting properties from the use of heating oil to HVO is a simple process and much cheaper than the cost of installing a brand-new, low-carbon heating system.

A recent amendment to the Energy Bill, suggests that the Government has listened to concerns around the proposed 2026 oil boiler ban as the amendment allows for the introduction of a Renewable Liquid Heating Fuel Obligation, setting annual obligations on fuel suppliers to ensure the supply of recognised low-carbon renewable liquid fuels for domestic and commercial heating. This scheme would mirror the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations Order (2007) and would offer off-gas-grid properties the option to switch to renewable liquid fuels. 

Committed to the UK’s Net Zero targets, reducing carbon emissions, and lowering NOx levels, Navien’s LCB700 Blue Flame range is fully HVO compatible, and the manufacturer is also planning to develop an HVO model that reduces carbon emissions in 2024. As well as diversifying its product range, Navien is also working with the Oil Fired Technical Association (OFTEC) to encourage the Government to lower the tax implication for HVO to help contribute to a cleaner environment.

Prepared for a Hydrogen future

Earlier this year, the Government announced the inception of the UK’s Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, to drive the growth of low-carbon hydrogen gas. The £240 million investment is intended to pave the way for new green hydrogen production projects and the first hydrogen homes and villages are currently being trialled to establish the simplicity of charging existing boilers and appliances to hydrogen ready alternatives – a project Navien is heavily involved in.

Hydrogen boilers are ready for the 20% blend and Navien is currently working on trials for 100% hydrogen gas-powered boiler which will start in 2024 and run into 2025. Launching next year, Navien has developed its H2 100% hydrogen boiler which is designed to burn exclusively hydrogen gas once the necessary infrastructure is in place across the country.

Ensuring that homeowners in need of a new boiler can make the switch when hydrogen gas is available nationwide, the H2 100% Hydrogen boiler is a leading example of the future of heating and hot water applications. Hydrogen-powered appliances such as this, have a crucial part to play in what will be a revolutionary and more efficient new power source.

Heat pumps and hybrid systems

Air source heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular and are one of the most eco-conscious solutions on the market, helping to reduce carbon emissions and energy bills in properties across the UK. They also play a vital role in helping to provide alternative energy sources capable of keeping homes warm throughout winter and hot water supplies consistent throughout the year.

In early 2024, alongside the H2 100% Hydrogen boiler, Navien will also launch its first monobloc air source heat pump. Navien’s heat pump uses an eco-friendly, hydrocarbon propane refrigerant with a low Global Warming Potential (GWP) of three, to offer a future-proofed system capable of delivering hot water comfort and higher flow temperatures of 75°C. The heat pump also has two outputs in the range 8kW or 14kW and boasts an A+++ ErP rating, making it one of the most energy-efficient products to join the market.

The heat pump can also be used alongside Navien’s leading range of boilers, such as the NCB700 ON and NCB500 ON Combi Crossover boilers to create a hybrid system. This hybrid solution will provide consistent hot water to meet the demands of the property, especially during the colder months when the heat pump cannot do this alone.  

Navien’s products are designed to work together seamlessly. Its NCB ON Combi Crossover range of boilers featuring its ON technology to cleverly maximise the recirculation of domestic hot water (DHW) to reduce delays in hot water delivery while significantly reducing water wastage.

The heat pump and hybrid system can also work with assistive technologies such as Navien’s Smart Plus and Smart Plus ON AI controllers, which features its all-new ON AI technology to create a network of integrated heating controls throughout the home. These smart devices give homeowners access to their heating and hot water system at their fingertips, while providing installers real-time diagnostics of the heating system.

Upskilling and futureproofing

With a rapidly growing eco-conscious market, it is crucial for manufacturers to start diversifying their product offerings to keep up with changing demands, and changes to the industry, as the Government strives for Net Zero.

While we recognise and fulfil our responsibility as a boiler and heating appliances manufacturer to ensure that our solutions have the lowest emissions and highest efficiencies, Navien also strives to design future-proof technology that can make the lives of our customers easier and more comfortable.

We are developing a revolutionary new technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help homeowners use their heating system more efficiently and to also help installers with diagnostics and preventative maintenance.

Launching early next year, ON AI will incorporate seamlessly with our Smart Plus and Smart Plus ON AI controls to help make home heating simpler. With Smart Diagnostics, boiler faults are flagged in the app and an engineer is notified immediately to identify the problem with all of the necessary parts required, meaning higher first-time fix rates, fewer call outs and less downtime for customers.

As the middle point between manufacturers and homeowners, installers also have a responsibility to make the changes happening in our industry seamless for all – and most importantly for themselves. In an already competitive market, it is important for installers to take the opportunity to upskill and understand renewable technologies in order to future-proof their business. Navien provides E-training and face-to-face sessions across the UK. The free course is designed to enable engineers to keep their skillsets up to date and remain informed of any recent technological and product developments.

Furthermore, if installers want to meet the eligibility requirements of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and secure the £5,000 Government grant for their customers to purchase an air source heat pump or biomass boiler, it is important that they become MSC certified.