Amidst a global incentive to reduce carbon emissions and rocketing fuel and energy bills, it’s hard to understate the importance of energy efficiency for UK homeowners. With the average cost of heating and electricity bills projected to exceed £3000 this winter, it’s never been more crucial for property owners to find energy-efficient ways to power and heat their homes. If you want to do your bit for the environment and reduce your household utility outgoings, consider making use of these cost-effective alternatives to gas, electric and combi boiler central heating systems (if you don’t have the budget for a boiler change, ensure that your current unit is serviced and checked for safety and energy efficiency):
Air source heat pumps – Combined with proper home insulation, using an air source heat pump to heat your home is a failsafe way of reducing emissions and energy expenditure. Air source heat pumps work by collecting outside air which is then compressed, heated up and transferred to your home’s heating system. Air-to-water heat pumps repeat the same process, but the heat is transferred to your ‘wet’ central heating system.
Ground source heat pumps – Whereas air source heat pumps convert fresh air into energy, ground source heat pumps rely on naturally occurring underground heat. Ground source heat pumps consist of a loop (a subterranean pipe network) and a heat pump installed above ground. Natural heat is absorbed by a liquid mixture in the loop, compressed in a heat exchanger and then converted into central heating.
Biomass boilers and stoves – To avoid significant increases in your gas and electricity bills, consider making the switch to a biomass boiler or stove. These are powered by burning organic matter such as pellets, wood chips or logs and are considerably cheaper to run than some other domestic heating systems. It’s worth noting that, while biomass is certainly a cost-effective form of renewable energy, the environmental effects of biomass boilers and stoves have been debated due to the carbon emissions resulting from the cultivation and combustion of wood and other fuel.
Solar thermal systems – Solar thermal domestic hot water systems are probably the most cost-effective renewable heating choice. These rely on solar energy (absorbed in roof collectors) to heat water, which is then collected in a hot water cylinder. Solar thermal heating can be reliably used all year round to reduce your home’s carbon emissions and lower energy bills.
Micro combined heat and power – Micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP) is a relatively new low-carbon technology which generates heat and electricity simultaneously, at an average ratio of 6:1. Although usually powered by mains gas and liquified-petroleum gas (as well as bio-liquids like biodiesel), micro-CHP systems are significantly more energy-efficient than running separate electricity and fossil fuel heating systems.