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Heating your home with renewable energy

We talked a little bit about opting for a renewable energy source to heat your home in our Saving energy, saving pennies article, but what exactly are the options? This page sets out to explain the different types of renewable energy sources you can choose from.

What are the main renewable energy heat products?

There are three main heat products to choose from if you are considering using renewable energy to heat your home:

  • Ground source heat pump
  • Air source heat pump
  • Biomass boilers

How do I know which one to choose?

Heat pumps rely on the efficiency of the heat emitters as they need to work on lower flow temperatures. Under floor heating (UFH) is by far the best option as a partner for your heat pump. However, radiators can also be used – and will just need to be sized correctly in order to deliver the right amount of heat to the rooms (or rooms) at a lower temperature.

We covered the main details of how Ground source heat pumps and Air source heat pumps work in the Products & Services section of our website, and we’d suggest if you are interested in learning more you visit those pages.

If you are interested in learning more about Under floor heating – visit our (UFH) page for more information.

Biomass boilers work on a higher flow temperature than Ground or Air source heat pumps, therefore many radiator layouts and sizes will be adequate without the need to change them.

With this information in mind which you choose may be dependent on whether you are looking at options for an existing property or new build (including a large extension). The other factor you may need to take into consideration is your budget, as the upfront costs of installing a heat pump or biomass boiler are likely to be higher than for a traditional heating system using gas, oil or LPG. 

Can I consider heating my home with renewable energy if I am on a tight budget?

Residents living in the UK currently have the option to consider any of these products and save money on the installations, because they are available through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme – the scheme is a government funded programme which subsidises the cost to install through regular payments over 7 years.

This is a great way to assist in paying towards your renewables installation but a lot of companies will sell the financial savings of your product based on the RHI subsidy and offset that total against the true running cost of your system. We believe this distorts the actual running costs to the client.

It’s our opinion that the RHI tariff is not therefore a permanent solution, but more of an opportunity to kick start the industry and lower the cost of the products as time moves on. So we’d recommend you look carefully at the savings figures and understand what they really mean, in terms of true savings, before committing to an installation paid for on the RHI scheme.

Although this scheme is incredibly helpful to those on a budget, the key to choosing the right product is not what the Government will pay you but more importantly what better suits your property both in product and design.

The design of your system is key

An area often overlooked when planning a heating system run by a renewable heat source is the flow rates. Depending on the size of the building (your home), and whether using under floor heating (UFH) or radiators, flow rates are key to the system running efficiently and effectively. The failure to understand the importance of flow rates has played a major part in the bad publicity of renewable energy in the home, with a number of poor installations and unhappy customers being highlighted.

air-source-diagram

ground-source-diagram

bio-mass-diagram

We are heating specialists who understand and design heating systems run by renewable energy, to make sure the end results are right for you and your family. If you’d like to chat further you can contact us on 01353 862315 or email us.