As gas prices continue to surge across the UK and the rest of Europe, heating our homes with traditional central heating, like boiler radiators, has become very expensive. On top of this, by 2025 the UK government plans to prohibit the installation of gas and oil boilers in all new homes. Alternatively, new homes will be required to use low-carbon, renewable heating systems. This is due to the UK government’s aim to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In this blog, I will be discussing with you some of the benefits and drawbacks of different low-carbon heating systems.
1. Ground Source Heat Pumps
This heating system works by collecting natural heat from the earth and transferring it into buildings to offer low-carbon, energy-efficient heating, and hot water.
- Cheaper to run than direct electric heating systems and boiler radiators.
- Heat pumps require less work than biomass boilers as they can be fully automated.
- Produces no carbon emissions on site.
- Can provide cooling during summer months.
- Can be up to 400% efficient in terms of electricity usage.
- You can get £6,000 from the UK government as part of the ‘Boiler Upgrade Scheme’ to install GSHP.
- Are designed to last over 100 years.
- Requires a lot of garden space so pipes from the GSHP can be buried.
- High installations cost up to £20,000+ depending on the type of system. On average for a 3 bedroom house, the installation cost would be between £16,000 - £20,000.
- Costs may be incurred after initial installation. Your home must be properly insulated to feel the full benefits of a heat pump. Your home must have roof insulation, cavity wall insulation, and double glazing.
- Installing a GSHP is a pain, and it will involve having your garden dug up. You may require underfloor heating and new radiators, this will add to the inconvenience.
2. Biomass Boilers
These boilers work by burning organic matter and transferring the heat to heating systems. Wood pellets, logs, chips, and other biological materials are fed into a combustion chamber and ignited.
- Renewable source of energy.
- Cheap to run compared to other fuels e.g. electricity and oil. Biomass fuel is substantially less expensive per kW and is also somewhat cheaper than gas.
- Biomass Boilers can reach efficiency rates of around 90%.
- Carbon neutral system, as growing plants re-absorb the same quantity of carbon dioxide that is emitted during the burning process.
- Eligible for up to £5,000 off the cost and installation from UK government scheme ‘Boiler Upgrade Scheme’.
- Some boilers obtain self-cleaning systems that remove ash from combustion chambers and heat exchanger tubes.
- Requires more space compared to gas or oil boilers, and storage place for the fuel.
- You’ll need an appropriate flue as your burning wood, this may be a properly lined old chimney or a new insulated stainless steel pipe.
- The efficiency rate is determined by the moisture content of the fuel.
- Need to clean approximately once a week.
- Cost from £6,000 to £12,000+ depending on the type of fuel you decide to use.
3. Air source heat pump
This works by absorbing heat from the outside air and converting it to a low-temperature liquid refrigerant. The pump compresses the liquid using electricity to increase its temperature. It then condenses back into a liquid, releasing the heat it has accumulated. Heat is received by radiators or underfloor heating.
- Least intrusive and most inexpensive heat pump to install.
- Can be used for both heating and cooling.
- Can be Eligible for up to £5,000 off the cost and installation from the UK government scheme ‘Boiler Upgrade Scheme’.
- Lifespan of up to 20 years.
- No fuel storage is required.
- Needs to have servicing and maintenance once a year by a technician.
- Home needs to be already well-insulated to gain the full benefits of an air source pump. If heat can readily escape from your home through windows, doors, or walls, you’ll end up using more energy to keep your home warm.
- Starts to lose its efficiency below 0oC, as they depend on outside air, so when the temperature decreases so do their general heat output.
- Can be noisy.
4. Infrared Heaters
Infrared radiant heat is a consistent heat that warms objects instead of the surrounding air to help create a healthy environment. The infrared rays flow through the air and heat individuals or objects that come into touch with it, providing an even, radiant warmth (similar to the sun), but at a lower air temperature, which is perfect for focused heating. Radiant heat reaches temperatures rapidly, reducing warm-up periods and conserving energy.
- Can be utilized as a focused heating solution for certain areas, or as a whole-house heating system.
- Gives instant heat.
- Save up to 60% on heating bills by switching to infrared heating full-time. This is due to IR heaters having low energy usage and directly heating you, rather than the air, so no energy will be wasted nor will the heaters be used for long periods.
- Dust allergy-friendly, as the heaters do not collect any dust.
- Does not create any noise.
- Minimal maintenance, installation and servicing costs.
- Prevents damp and mould as the heat produced by the heaters penetrates through walls which warms the walls up and absorbs the heat, preventing moisture from settling in.
- Objects must not block heaters
- Heaters can reach surface temperatures above 100oC – need to keep kids out the way.
- When you turn it off, the heat goes away instantly.