How plastic can future-proof plumbing

How plastic can future-proof plumbing

Richard Bateman, Product Marketing Manager at RWC, explores the role of plastic in driving performance and future-proofing modern homes.

In the UK housing sector, there are two significant challenges facing the industry: demand and sustainability. These factors are transforming the industry landscape, requiring improvements in the speed and quality of installations, while driving forward efficiency. With plumbing and heating typically being a leading factor in sustainability, contributing to 17% of a typical home’s emissions, innovation in this area can underpin improvements.

To keep up with the growing demand for housing, more than 130,000 new homes were built in 2023. Insights from the Home Builders Federation also suggest that these properties are making significant strides towards sustainability targets, with 85% of new builds achieving A or B EPC ratings, emitting 61% less carbon per year and making energy bills up to 55% cheaper than the average older home. 

These figures are hugely encouraging, demonstrating the tangible impact of more energy-efficient new build homes. For plumbing and heating specifiers and contractors, understanding the solutions that can contribute to these figures is key to being able to consistently achieve improvements – particularly as the Future Homes Standard comes into force in 2025. 

Unlocking potential with plastic 

Creating new homes presents an opportunity to build efficiency, quality and reliability into every aspect. A major shift in how modern homes are heated – away from traditional radiator systems and towards underfloor heating (UFH) – is just one example of this. The recent changes to Part L Building Regulations mean that the flow temperature of heating systems should not exceed 55°C, making a significant impact on sustainability and even extending the longevity of systems as they can work within optimum conditions. UFH is ideal here, operating effectively within these lower temperatures and facilitating sustainable operation. Here, and elsewhere in the system, plastic pipes and fittings are playing a vital role. 

Material choice is critical at the point of specification, and plastic is a potential front-runner for several reasons. As well as supporting the efficient performance of plumbing and heating systems, plastic components can deliver reliability over the long termwith guarantees of up to 50 years from RWC’s JG Speedfit brand. This long lifespan contributes to even greater sustainability credentials, while maintaining consistent levels of performance over the same period. 

Unlike traditional materials, plastic pipes and fittings streamline the installation process. Innovations like plastic push-fit technology remove the complexity from installation, leading to faster and easier installations that boast consistent levels of quality, reliability and performance. By specifying plastic plumbing and heating solutions for new build homes, it is possible to create future-proof systems that prioritise efficiency and unlock a host of benefits for users. 

Advancing performance and efficiency 

We know plastic is perfectly suited to hot and cold plumbing and heating systems and can be used on the vast majority of applications, but how exactly can it support sustainability? 

Primarily, plastic pipes and fittings underpin efficient system performance. Leaks, for example, present a common problem in plumbing systems, but can be minimised through the use of plastic solutions. Connections are the main cause of leaks and, by strengthening individual connections and their overall volume within a system, the potential for leaks can be decreased. Plastic makes this possible, both with push-fit technology delivering consistently strong connections, and through the use of polybutylene pipe – such as JG LayFlat – to create long pipe runs and minimising the number of connections required. 

Away from leaks, solutions including plastic manifolds – such as JG Speedfit’s Plastic Plumbing Manifold – make it possible to easily centralise and distribute water feeds to maximise efficiency. By establishing a centralised pipework junction, systems can optimise consumption and further minimise the potential for leaks. 

Elsewhere within an effective plumbing and heating system, water control valves are essential, both to everyday operational efficiency, safety and to support future maintenance. With Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) installed to bath outlets being essential in new build properties to blend hot and cold water and ensure safety at the point of use, compact and easy-to-install options can bring added value in new build homes. As well as making it simple to install in tight spaces, the Easifit TMV2/3 TMV from Reliance Valves is available with JG Speedfit push-fit connections to aid easy installation. Where maintenance is concerned, the specification of service valves can also facilitate the swift isolation of water to appliances and fixtures, optimising efficiency and making future maintenance works more straightforward. 

Contributing to the sustainability agenda 

Specifying plastic solutions for new build homes can unlock the potential to create future-proof plumbing and heating systems. 

Whether it’s fittings, valves, manifolds or pipes, plastic push-fit technology strengthens every connection and makes the installation of plumbing and heating systems quick and easy. JG Speedfit’s push-fit components allow connections to be made with a simple push, while in-built multi-seal technology secures the connection and minimises the potential for leaks and failures. With polybutylene plastic also being non-toxic and resistant to corrosion, it’s the perfect choice for creating long-lasting and watertight systems in modern homes. 

With more than 70 years of experience in the sector, RWC and its family of brands – including JG Speedfit, JG Underfloor and Reliance Valves is supporting specifiers and installers to drive sustainability and meet the demands of modern housebuilding. 

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