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Eco-Friendly Central Heating – What Are the Options?

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Nearly a third of UK greenhouse gases come from our homes of which 19% of the emissions are from the central heating systems. While the government is implementing steps to achieve the target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, it is still important that we also do our part in protecting the environment by upholding Eco-Friendly Central Heating. There are many options available that can make your house greener, saving you money in the process.

Eco-Friendly Central Heating

Having an Eco-friendly central heating system means your house and water are heated in a way that does not impact the environment, mainly through emissions. Boilers are perhaps the main source of domestic Greenhouse gas emissions such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Nitrogen Oxide gases (NO and NO2). As such, the majority of the efforts towards central heating are directed towards boilers. While upgrading to an A-rated Boiler or an Eco-friendly boiler seems to be the most viable option, it comes at an additional cost but there are more options that help you achieve Eco-friendly central heating while making better use of your current boiler.

Eco-friendly Central Heating Options

Insulation

We have talked in the past about how good insulation is important for the environment. It is an important component of an eco-friendly heating system.

The purpose of insulation is to trap heat produced from your central heating system to prevent heat loss through the cold walls in your house. Insulation can be done during the construction of a new house, through cavity insulation or double glazing. For most homeowners, however, their houses are already built thus insulation options might involve sealing doors and having windows that close properly. Draught proofing your doors using rubber seals and door brushes also prevents cold air from rushing in resulting in heat loss. 

Thermal Paper Insulation

For the walls, internal wall insulation can prevent heat from escaping but if you are limited on space, this might not be the most ideal option. Thermal wallpaper is your next best bet and certainly makes a difference in retaining heat in your home. Thermal paper has actually been reported to increase the warm up time of your home by 65%.

Spray Foam Insulation

 Another option is spray foam which is sprayed onto the walls to add an extra layer of insulation. The only disadvantage to these interior insulation options is the mess and disruption that takes place during the application process. We, therefore, recommend spraying or applying during the initial construction of your home or going room by room to ease the cleaning process. 

There are new insulation innovations emerging such as high-tech plaster or insulating paints.

 External Insulation

External Insulation is another viable option you can use to insulate your home especially if your walls are solid with no cavities. External insulation also has an added advantage over internal insulation as it retains indoor space which is a concern for most homeowners with limited space. It also minimizes cold bridging which happens when cold air seeps through the stone walls into your property.

BOILERS

A Rated Boilers

A-Rated boilers are regarded as the most efficient boilers in the market based on how much fuel is converted into usable energy to heat up your water and radiators. A-Rated boilers have been approved by the Energy Saving Trust and have an efficiency of 90% or higher. The framework for the ratings used to be the Seasonal Efficiency of Domestic Boilers in the UK (SEDBUK). Boilers were rated on a scale of A to G and those with the highest efficiency were considered A-Rated. The ERP system, however, provides clear cut guidelines as it uses percentages to help the buyer make an informed decision. An A-Rated boiler with an efficiency of 90% means that 90% of the fuel is utilized by the boiler with only 10% going to waste, although this might not be considered as an eco-friendly boiler to all, it is the best option for the large majority of homeowners to go for.

How A-Rated Boilers contribute to Eco-friendly Central Heating Systems

These boilers are preferred by many homeowners for their long-term cost-saving benefit in energy bills since they do not waste energy. Another advantage of A-Rated boilers is their massive contribution towards Eco-friendly central heating. Inefficient boilers tend to waste gas or oil which in turn, results in a boiler running longer and emitting more greenhouse gases. Homeowners looking to install a new boiler are therefore encouraged to consider A-Rated boilers not only for the efficiency but their eco-friendliness. Even though these boilers can be more costly, you can rest assured that you will get your money back through the reduced energy bills over time. 

MAKING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOILER

Solar Panels

Sometimes you might not want to upgrade your boiler or you would like to make your current boiler more eco-friendly.

Installing a solar panel to work alongside your boiler will not only improve efficiency but also increases the eco-friendliness of your boiler. 

The panels are fitted to your roof and absorb energy from sunlight. This energy is in turn used to heat the water going into the hot water cylinder of your home. On their own, solar panels might not provide sufficient hot water for your needs but they can be used to reduce the strain on your boiler, especially if your boiler is inefficient. As a result, the carbon footprint of your home decreases and in the process you save more. 

Smart Devices

Advanced boilers nowadays come with modern technology integrated within them such as smart thermostats, meters and radiator valves. These devices ensure that your boiler is in use only when needed and they minimize on wastage. 

Legally, a thermostat should come with your boiler and it allows you to increase or decrease the temperature of your central heating as necessary. Smart thermostats have greatly advanced and you can control your central heating via an app through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Smart thermostats can even be operated remotely which means you can adjust them from your phone while in another room or even outside your property. Most heating engineers will be able to install these, so we suggest enquiring with your local heating engineer about getting one installed if you haven’t done so already. 

If your boiler does not have a thermostat, you should consider getting one as it aids in your efforts towards eco-friendly central heating. By using a thermostat app, you could program your central heating system to heat your home during specific periods. If you are on your way home for example, you could turn up the heat and arrive to a warm house. Other than an eco-friendly system, you get the added benefit of convenience.

BOILER FUEL TYPES

Changing the fuel type your boiler operates on is perhaps the most effective way to make your central heating eco-friendly. Majority of boilers in the UK operate on non-renewable fossil fuels such as oil and gas. The greenhouse emissions from these fuels are harmful to the environment such that the government plans to phase them out by 2023. These are some of the eco-friendly boilers that serve as a replacement for gas and oil boilers.

Biomass Boilers

These boilers are fueled by wood pellets or wood chips which are renewable energy sources. The carbon absorbed by the wood during formation is the same that is emitted when combusted hence the reason these boilers are referred to as ‘carbon neutral’.

Electric Boilers 

These boilers are fueled by electricity and they are ‘greener’ compared to oil or gas boilers especially if the electricity is generated from a clean source like solar or wind. Electric boilers have the highest efficiency rankings with negligible carbon or nitrogen emissions.

Hydrogen Boilers

Worcester Borsch recently developed hydrogen boilers which run solely on hydrogen gas. The boilers run on a carbon free fuel source and the only by-product is water. Even though these boilers are in their trial phases, they would be a game-changer in making central heating systems more ecofriendly.

HEAT PUMPS

Heat Pumps work by extracting heat from the environment and redirecting it to your home. The interesting thing about heat pumps is they capture heat even during the winter months making them one of the most efficient and eco-friendly central heating systems.

There are different types of heat pumps such as: 

Air Source Heat Pumps

These heat pumps capture heat from the air which is then used to heat up your water radiators. The water from Air source heat pumps might not be as hot as that from a boiler therefore they need to run for a while. 

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pumps work similarly to Air source heat pumps but they capture heat from the ground instead. The pumps are also installed in a trench dug in the ground, unlike air source pumps which are out in the open. Ground source heat pumps tend to be more expensive compared to air-source pumps but they are more efficient.

As we mentioned earlier, there are several options available for homeowners who would like to have eco-friendly central heating systems. Hopefully, this article will assist you in making an informed decision when you wish to install a central heating system. 

If you already have a heating system, you can bolster efficiency by adding some features such as thermostats to increase eco -friendliness while saving a lot of money on energy bills.

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