Radiator valves: A simple trick to achieve CO2 targets in the building sector

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Simple thermostatic radiator valves in every room can help us cut bills and reduce energy imports and CO2 emissions. [Krzysztof Lis/Flickr]

Energy savings can be very low cost and easy. You can cut bills, energy imports and CO2 emissions through individual room temperature control, for example through thermostatic radiator valves. Sarah Brückner explains.

Sarah Brückner is the director of EUnited Valves (European Valve Manufacturer Association).

It is a low-cost, fast-payback, no-regret optimisation measure for heating and cooling systems in buildings. But they are absent in a substantial part of the EU’s building stock due to market failures such as split incentives.

It is a simple truth that you sometimes don’t realise what you have. Being able to set the temperature for the heating system in each individual room is one of these things.

You just set your radiator valve to 2 in the bedrooms, 3 in the living room and 4 in the bathroom. This thermostatic radiator valve – which works without any additional energy – is a device so simple that we easily take it for granted.

However, four out of 10 radiators in Europe are not equipped with such a thermostatic valve, but with a simple valve, not counting those without any valve at all. In that case, your only chance to regulate the room temperature is to be in the room and either open and close a window or the valve until you have the desired temperature.

To have thermostatic radiator valves installed and thus individual room temperature control, costs on average 40€ per valve. The kind of money you save in only two years with the energy saving. After that, you just save the extra money.

In the current revision process of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in the European Parliament, EPP member Dr Peter Liese submitted an amendment suggesting to require this basic comfort and energy saving feature for every European citizen: individual room temperature control.

On 11 October 11, 2017, the committee of Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) accepted this proposed amendment to the report.

If thermostatic radiator valves were to be installed in all 28 EU states, it would bring about a 7% reduction of the heating energy consumption in the residential sector (167 TWh/a) and save €12-13 billion per year.

The associated CO2 reduction of ~31t CO2 would fulfil 15% of the 2030 CO2 target for the EU building sector. That equals the CO2 emissions of over 15 million cars.

The trilogue negotiations for the EPBD are currently taking place. Council and Commission representatives should support the Parliament’s amendment and seize the opportunity to increase comfort and savings for each European citizen while supporting the climate saving goals.

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