BMS and Heating Controls – What are they and why do we have them?

By May 1, 2020July 13th, 2020Insights

If you have a building of almost any size (including your home) you will have some form of heating and hot water control. That may be as simple as you turning on an immersion heater or changing the temperature on a thermostat.

A BMS/BeMS (Building Management System/Building energy Management System) is a set of controls that automate the switching of plant equipment (boilers, pumps, AHUs, Chillers, Hot Water Generators etc.) against a set of parameters that can be changed by the user (ie time settings and setpoints).

Historically they were thought of as something to save time and labour, to save people having to switch things on and off manually. As they progressed and became more intelligent, the systems have become more centralised and can be controlled through PCs, or even apps. This has also developed in the domestic market over the last few years with the development of “Hive” for example.

People have become more expectant of better control in their heating and hot water services over the years as technology has developed. This has lead to people expecting their personal work areas within buildings to be more comfortable. This has meant BMS have become more sophisticated.

As time has progressed, building (and home) owners have been driven to reduce their energy usage, climate change and cost being key reasons as to why they want this to happen. So the BMS has become a tool for not just comfort control but also as a valuable asset to be able to help manage and maintain the energy usage within the building.

So some questions you might want to ask yourself as a building and/or home owner is how can I get the best out of the system I have?

  • Do we have any controls or are we doing everything manually?
    • If you have no controls, perhaps looking at something as simple as a time clock could produce savings.
  • If we have controls, do we check the settings?
    • Check the settings to ensure that the timings and setpoints are correct for the current building usage.
    • Do we maintain our system?
    • If the controls aren’t working correctly, plant could be running for longer periods of time than are necessary leading to additional energy usage and shorter life span of plant equipment.
  • Do we need to upgrade our system?
    • Do you? Maybe, but in some cases the system maybe functioning as it was originally setup, however there may be software changes that can be made to make the system more efficient without the large cost of replacing the whole system.
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