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Eco-Friendly Heating Options: Replacing Gas Boilers
Posted by: viva training on: 14 February 2023
Are you thinking of replacing your gas boiler with a more eco-friendly alternative? While there’s no law, the UK plans to phase out gas boilers by 2035. We take a look at eco-friendly, renewable heating options for your home.
Climate change is a serious issue that we must manage sooner rather than later. The gas boilers many people use in their homes are one major cause. Burning fuel releases harmful air emissions and results in wastewater and solid waste.
Eco-friendly heating options provide clean energy that is better for the environment. These options often save you money on your energy bill and may earn you government incentives (more on that below).
Before buying a more eco-friendly heating option, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind. First, you want to look at the environmental impact. Some solutions claim to be “eco-friendly” but may cause almost as many problems as a gas boiler.
You want an option that is energy efficient. First, consider what type of impact it has on the environment. Make sure it will offer a significant improvement over your current gas boiler.
Please take a look at the initial cost of the alternative and compare it with your energy savings. Purchasing and installing a new energy system can often be expensive, but your energy savings will offset the cost.
Finally, please ensure that your chosen alternative is a good fit for your home. Not all homes are set up to handle all heating options.
Many eco-friendly heating options are on the market, but not all are created equal. If you choose the wrong alternative, you won’t be helping yourself or the environment.
Below are some of the best options, advantages, and factors.
An Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) pulls heat from the outside air. The pump removes heat from the outside air and condenses it into a liquid. It releases heat as it condenses. This heat is used to warm the home. Many of these pumps also function to cool the house.
Air source heat pumps are great for energy efficiency. They’re better for the environment, and your energy bills will be cheaper. You’ll usually qualify for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
ASHPs are easy to install and don’t require a lot of maintenance. They have a long lifespan and often feature heating and cooling in one system.
ASHPs work best in well-insulated homes. ASHPs can’t match the heat supply of a conventional gas boiler and aren’t as efficient when temperatures dip below freezing. The initial cost is expensive.
Ground Source Heat Pumps are also referred to as GSHPs or geothermal heat pumps. They work similarly to an ASHP; only they pull heat from the ground instead of the air.
During winter, below-ground temperatures are higher than outdoor temperatures. During summer, the below-ground temperatures are cooler. GSHPs use this difference to heat or cool homes.
GSHPs circulate water through a pipe buried underground. The line transfers heat to the system, which then warms your home.
GSHPs are better for the environment than gas boilers. Unlike ASHPs, GSHPs work well in almost all climates and are much quieter. They may also qualify for government incentives. You’ll also pay significantly less for your energy bills.
The initial cost of a GSHP and installation is more expensive than that of a gas boiler, but the price is negated over time with lower energy bills. It can be challenging in retrofit situations.
Because the pipe has to be several feet underground, it requires significant groundwork, which can alter your landscaping for a time. If you choose an open-loop system, there’s a slight chance it could contaminate groundwater.
Biomass boilers use biological matter, like logs, wood pellets, etc., as fuel. They work best in larger homes, typically with three bedrooms. The boiler burns the biomass and transfers the heat to a central heating system, which heats the house.
Biomass boilers are carbon neutral and use renewable energy. They’re highly efficient, and you’ll save on your energy bill. Biomass boilers may be eligible for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
Biomass boilers have a higher upfront cost for the system and installation and take up a lot of space. You’ll also need storage for your wood or other fuel. Biomass boilers have to be cleaned around once a week.
Energy-storage systems collect heat when the conditions are right and store it until you need to use it in your home. A heat battery is one type of storage system. It uses heat or electric energy to trigger a phase change in a phase change material (PCM). As the phase change occurs, it gives off heat and the battery stores it.
Heat batteries have a smaller carbon footprint than gas boilers and are much more efficient. They’re more affordable than heat pumps and are easy to install.
Heat batteries usually work with the radiator and pipes already in your home. You don’t need extra outdoor space.
Heat batteries are heavy – 100 kg or more and need a sturdy space for installation. They’re less widely available than some of the other eco-friendly options.
Heat batteries save money during off-peak times but can be expensive when charged during peak hours.
Solar thermal panels generate heat, not electricity. The panels absorb light from the sun and convert it into heat. The panels are black and are designed to catch up to 93% of the sunlight hitting them. The system uses heat to warm air that circulates through the house.
Solar energy is a good option because it’s much better for the environment and uses a renewable energy source. They’re also easy to maintain and may be eligible for the ECO4 scheme.
Solar panels are more expensive to purchase and install, but energy savings may eventually offset the price. Because solar panels can’t absorb light on cloudy days or at night, they’re less reliable than other heating options. It’s also a challenge to store large amounts of solar energy for use in the future.
A hybrid system helps you decrease your carbon footprint while providing reliable heating for your home. It’s made up of a heat pump and a gas boiler. The hybrid system will use the most energy-efficient method, relying on the heat pump as often as possible.
Hybrid systems are reliable, and many may be able to heat and cool your home. They’re more energy efficient and last longer than a gas boiler.
Hybrid systems are as eco-friendly as some of the other options, as it still relies on a gas boiler part of the time. Hybrid systems have a high up-front and installation cost, but you can offset the cost with lower energy bills. These systems also require a sizable area of your yard.
The government offers specific incentives for upgrading your gas boiler. These can often offset the cost of your new system.
The boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) is an incentive for homeowners and business owners to encourage the elimination of gas boilers. You can get £5000 toward an ASHP or biomass boiler and £6000 toward a GSHP.
The UK government Eco scheme is designed to help people in low-income housing switch to green heating options. For qualifying residents, it can help with upgrades like new insulation and replacing boilers with more energy-efficient alternatives.
What is a heat pump, and how does it work?
A heat pump is a device that uses electricity to extract heat from the air (air source heat pump) or ground (ground source heat pump) outside, and transfer it into your home. They work like a refrigerator, but in reverse – they absorb heat from a cold source and release it into a warmer space.
What is biomass heating, and what are the benefits?
Biomass heating systems burn organic matter, such as wood pellets or chips, to produce heat. This can be a renewable and carbon-neutral heat source as long as the biomass is sustainably sourced. The benefits of biomass heating include reduced carbon emissions, lower energy costs, and potentially higher energy security.
How do solar thermal panels work, and what are they used for?
Solar thermal panels use energy from the sun to heat water, which can be used for space heating and hot water. They consist of tubes or pipes filled with a heat transfer fluid, which absorbs sunlight and transfers the heat to a water tank. Solar thermal panels are most effective in sunny locations and during the summer months.
What is district heating, and how does it work?
District heating is a system that provides heating and hot water to multiple buildings from a central source. The primary source can be powered by various fuels, including renewable energy sources like biomass, geothermal, or waste heat from industry or power generation. District heating can be more efficient and cost-effective than individual heating systems in some cases.
What is passive solar design, and how can it be used to heat a home?
Passive solar design is an approach to building design that maximises the use of natural sunlight and heat to reduce the need for artificial heating and lighting. This can involve orienting a building to face south to maximise daylight, using materials with high thermal mass to store heat, and using shading devices to control solar gain. Passive solar design can be a cost-effective and sustainable way to heat a home, particularly in sunny locations.
What are the benefits of using low-carbon gas boilers?
Low-carbon gas boilers use a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas to reduce carbon emissions. Hydrogen can be produced from renewable sources like wind and solar power, making it a potentially sustainable fuel forcannot future. This can be a cost-effective and practical way to reduce emissions from home heating, particularly for households that are not able to switch to renewable heating options.
What are some factors to consider when choosing an eco-friendly heating option for a home?
When choosing an eco-friendly heating option, some factors to consider include the size and layout of the home, the climate and local weather conditions, the availability of different heating options and fuel sources in the area, the cost and efficiency of other options, and any relevant regulations or incentives.
How do the costs of eco-friendly heating options compare to traditional heating systems?
Eco-friendly heating options can often have higher upfront costs than traditional heating systems. Still, they can provide significant long-term savings on energy bills and reduce the environmental impact of home heating. It’s essential to compare the costs and benefits of different options to find the most cost-effective and sustainable choice for your home.
Are any tax credits or incentives available for installing eco-friendly heating options?
Several tax credits and incentives are available for installing eco-friendly heating options, including the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and Green Homes Grant. These programmes can provide financial support to homeowners who install eligible renewable heating systems, such as heat pumps, biomass boilers, and solar thermal systems.
Can eco-friendly heating options be used in all homes?
Eco-friendly heating options can be used in most types of homes, but the type of heating system that is most suitable will depend on the size and layout of the house, as well as local conditions and regulations. It’s essential to consult with a qualified heating engineer or installer to determine the most appropriate and efficient heating option for your home.
These eco-friendly heating options allow you to do your part to help the environment while also saving you money on your energy bill. Be sure to carefully consider your home, budget and heating needs to help you decide which eco-friendly systems can help you.