Wiring Accessories Meet Social Housing Needs
Altogether the Government has allocated £11.5bn to housing, this includes £550m brought forward from 2010/11 and is mainly determined by the ‘Decent Homes Standard’…
The Government is continuing to invest major sums to drive work as housing associations strive to meet the new 2010/2011 deadline of The Decent Homes Standard. Here Kevin Norman, category manager at Newey & Eyre explains how contractors and specifiers can capitalise on the opportunities this piece of legislation presents by being aware of the most effective wiring accessory products available.
Altogether the Government has allocated £11.5bn to housing, this includes £550m brought forward from 2010/11 and is mainly determined by the ‘Decent Homes Standard’ which was announced in 2002 with a target to ‘ensure that all social housing meets set standards of decency’. The standard covers all aspects of the home and as an inherently innovative industry, the electrical market has responded with an array of products to help specifiers and installers working in the affordable housing sector. From wiring accessories and lighting through to cable management, leading manufacturers have developed solutions to meet the key public sector aims of energy saving, electrical safety, security and meeting legislation.
Social Housing Wants Quality & Durable Wiring Accessories
Looking specifically at the wiring accessory market, there has been a definitive shift towards products that offer greater quality and safety than ever before. And the lifecycle of equipment is also now a major consideration as products that can stand the test of time will contribute to lower maintenance costs. In the current economic climate, some organisations may be looking for the lowest prices but local authorities recognise this is a false economy as items will undoubtedly need replacing more often due to faults or breakages. Within social housing the focus remains on quality, durable solutions.
…the Government requires that from 2010 new homes meet the minimum standards for Level Four of the Code, which effectively means a 44% reduction in the Dwelling Emission Rate.
2008 saw the introduction of the 17th Edition of the Wiring Regulations, which called for the increased use of 30mA RCDs and effectively means every socket outlet in the home, needs to be covered. In response manufacturers have launched ranges of new consumer units that enable individual RCBO overcurrent protection and residual current protection of each circuit, thereby providing added protection and safety. This means that should an RCBO trip, all other circuits will be unaffected, resulting in not only improved tenant safety but also reducing the number call–outs.
Durable Products Save Labour Costs
In addition to this, some units also come pre–wired and pre–tested, which can significantly reduce labour costs, and many feature lockable covers to safeguard from damage and ensure durability, a key requirement in a sector when tenants can change on a frequent basis. Whether it’s accidental damage, vandalism or abuse, a damaged wiring accessory can become a safety hazard, as well as requiring a planned or emergency call out. Polycarbonate accessories are virtually unbreakable and can reduce the risk of damage and the need to be replaced. Using reliable, proven solutions will reduce lifetime costs, as will making sure they are sourced from reputable manufacturers to ensure there are no on–site or longer term failure risks.
Helping Special Needs & The Environment
The Disability Discrimination Act and Part M of the Building Regulations, has also inspired further changes, ensuring that devices such as wiring accessories meet diverse tenants’ needs. Many ranges have been specifically designed to support this legislation, such as sockets and switches that visually contrast with their background for easy detection, as well as wide rocker switches to aid those with limited dexterity. To help the visually impaired, some wiring accessories incorporate red flashes in the switch rocker to clearly indicate whether they are ‘on’ or ‘off’. Sockets and switches are also available with neon indicators making them particularly useful at night or in low–light conditions.
In addition, wiring accessories that improve energy efficiency can also contribute to achieving standards set by the Code for Sustainable Homes, which is striving to ensure all new homes will be zero carbon by 2016. To achieve this target, the Government requires that from 2010 new homes meet the minimum standards for Level Four of the Code, which effectively means a 44% reduction in the Dwelling Emission Rate.
Lighting Controls Save Energy
To maximise efficiency, wiring accessories that control lighting offer a simple way to make significant energy savings and are ideal for social housing. New remote occupancy sensors, for example, which are available in ceiling and corner mounted and long range models, can offer energy savings of up to 90% and also support compliance to Part L of the Building Regulations. Solutions such as dimmer switches, which offer the tenant with precise control over the level of light provided and are available as either touch or rotary options, are another popular choice. A dimmed lamp not only consumes less power but using the soft–on dimmer function also extends its lifetime, while offering a stylish alternative to the traditional light switch.
Today’s local authorities and housing associations are under increasing pressure to deliver quality public housing solutions that meet the ‘Decent Homes Standard’ and other stringent Government regulations, and all while remaining affordable. Then there are the additional elements of sustainability, safety, security, longevity and efficiency to consider — all within a tight framework of deadlines. As a result, it is vital that specifiers and contractors keep on top of new products in order to stay ahead of the competition and capitalise on every opportunity.