As safe as houses

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A Which? report published last month (15th February 2018) has highlighted the safety risk that faulty domestic household appliances can pose to residents. The investigation reveals that appliances such as fridges, freezers and ovens are responsible for over 60 per cent of household fires, with washing machines and dryers highlighted as the biggest culprits, causing over a third.

The number of household fires has stayed at a similar level for five years, causing close to 16,000 life threatening blazes since 2012 and demonstrating that little improvement is being made year-on-year to this worrying statistic. As a result, Which? is calling for government action via the new Office for Product Safety and Standards, which launched last month, to ensure unsafe goods are kept out of homes.

Ensuring tenants’ safety in their own homes is always a number one priority for landlords and choosing the right appliances and white goods is a critical consideration given the latest findings.  Without updated guidance from the government this can be a difficult responsibility and JLA believes that suppliers need to support housing organisations in finding alternative solutions when domestic options are currently failing them.

When it comes to communal laundries and kitchens or even within the home itself, JLA stresses that it’s important for landlords to remember that domestic equipment isn’t the only option available. Commercial appliances that have been designed specifically for social housing can significantly reduce the safety risk, providing all the robustness and longevity of an industrial machine, while still retaining the key benefits of a domestic appliance including the size and ease-of-use which is so important in promoting independence amongst residents.

From compact washers and tumble dryers to under-counter dishwashers and fridges, there is a range of commercial products to suit all social housing needs. In addition, JLA has been at the forefront of developing unique innovations in the fight against appliance fires such as its Sensor-Activated Fire Extinguishing (S.A.F.E) technology which automatically dispenses water vapour into the dryer drum if higher than normal temperatures are detected, preventing a fire starting.

As the market-leader for commercial laundry and catering equipment, JLA is committed to supporting social housing landlords meet and exceed standards for their tenants and prompted by the latest Which? report,  JLA is offering free consultations to all social housing organisations to ensure the equipment they are providing is fit for purpose and provide guidance and advice on improvements or upgrades.

The full Which? report can be viewed here:

Housing Division at JLA

Established over 40 years ago, JLA is the market-leader in the supply and maintenance of commercial laundry, catering and heating equipment and works closely with Housing partners to provide all-inclusive solutions that meet every need.                     @jla_Ltd

Tel: 0800 591 903

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The Rise of Centralised Heating Schemes

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Social housing landlords face constant government pressure to meet and improve on sustainability targets. The added strain of rising energy prices has seen centralised boilers and district heating schemes become increasingly popular in multi-dwelling residences. A highly efficient, centralised heat source helps buildings meet sustainability initiatives, such as the GLA’s ‘Be Lean, Be Clean, Be Green’, and other building regulations. The integration of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant within the system further improves the building’s energy efficiency.


Heat Interface Units (HIUs), located within apartments, are integral to the centralised boiler approach. They connect the space heating and domestic hot-water systems to the central boiler network and provide control functions, control devices and measure heat consumption.


Sales of HIUs have grown 85% between 2012 and 2017, from under 25,000 units in 2012 to nearly 45,000 in 2017.  This is still only a small proportion of the 1.6 million domestic boilers sold annually in the UK. With the Zero Carbon Policy coming into force in 2020, district heating and HIUs could be seen in up to 20% of all new build residences in the UK, with forecasts for 100% in multi-dwelling high rise buildings.




There are several benefits to landlords and property managers.

  1. Centralised systems do not require gas distribution to each flat. This means easier maintenance, less safety checks and lower fire risk.
  2. One boiler is contained in a single plantroom not in each dwelling. Engineers and facilities management can carry out maintenance and gas safety checks more easily.
  3. The heat distribution system is more efficient compared to individual boilers in each apartment.
  4. Energy efficient CHP units can be easily integrated.




Complex Billing

The landlord, rather than the utility company, bills the tenant. Third party operators offer landlords a site-wide billing solution. Billing systems must be identified by the design team and included early, as changing the billing provider may require infrastructure changes. The HIU and internal controls chosen will need to interface correctly with the billing system.


Uncontrolled Heat Dissipation

Pipework distributed through communal areas can overheat. Pipework distribution and corridor ventilation require careful planning during the design to limit overheating in common areas.


Product Quality

Not all HIUs are made equal. Some are less intelligent and harder to control, which can affect performance. Simple models are easier to maintain and most of the internal consumables are readily available to a good plumber. More sophisticated units give the user greater control and can be remotely operated and faults diagnosed via a data link. However, these units require a manufacturer’s approved engineer to maintain them, and use more specialist consumables.


Customer Experience

Depending on the controls of the unit the time taken to deliver hot water to the tap from the HIU may differ significantly between units. The delay may not meet the customers’ expectations for instant hot water.


In conclusion, HIUs and centralised boiler systems provide energy efficiency to multi-dwelling buildings. However, models, manufacturers, third-party billing options and pipework distribution must all be determined as part of the new building’s design. The sooner the kit has been identified and integrated into the design, the greater the benefits to the landlord, building manager and residents.


Steven Norwood is Associate Director at Crofton. He leads a team of building services engineers from our London Bridge office.


Crofton offers electrical, mechanical, structural and civil engineering design consultancy. Our multi-disciplinary teams have experience across sectors. Our offices in London, Kent and Sussex serve clients across the South-East.

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