What are the best heating options for homes without gas?
Around 15% of homes within the UK are not actually connected to the gas network. Of course, a gas boiler and gas-powered central heating system is by far the most common and traditional but there are alternatives!
LPG (liquid petroleum gas) and oil burners
Unlike natural gas, LPG is not fed directly into the boiler instead it is stored in a tank and passed through a boiler or generator to provide heat around a property. As with an LPG boiler, oil is stored in a tank and passed through. They both have different advantages and disadvantages:
You have the freedom to choose who the oil is supplied by and some flexibility therefore over the price you pay however, with that being said the cost of all oil is rising in the UK.
They can be used for an oven or hob as well as the boiler however, they do take up quite a lot of space in the property due to storage.
If you are concerned about climate change and your carbon footprint, neither an LPG or oil burner will be a good choice due to the fossil fuel burning and the impact it has on the atmosphere. Accompanied by the estimate supplies of oils and gases are to be depleted within the next 30-40 years, these are very much a short term choice.
An electrical boiler is an extremely efficient choice as they do not waste any of the electricity they utilise. Electrical boilers work much like a kettle, they store hot water either in a cylinder or in an external tank. One of the big downsides of electrical boilers is their cost. They can end up costing three or four times as more dependent on the electrical supplier. One way to combat this is with the use of solar panels, whilst the initial outlay will be high, this can equal big returns in the long run! As well as, of course, electricity being a renewable energy source.
Biomass boilers work by generating heat from biomass – using wood, pellets or logs. They are very similar to conventional gas boilers and they are carbon neutral. Often these can be run for almost no cost.
Air source heat pumps
Air source heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air outside. They are rather ingenious and even work down to some of the minus temperatures of winter, although obviously they work better in Summer! Air from outside passes over an exchanger coil which has a refrigerant fluid, that fluid boils and evaporates and is then generated into vapour, compressed into heat. Air source heat pumps are highly efficient and of course, renewable, generating less co2 than most other alternatives, conventional heating systems. The heat produced, however, will not be as hot or as powerful as that by a boiler and a recommended use for air source heat pumps is mostly underfloor heating due to the lower temperatures required. Air source heat pumps require very little maintenance, simply an annual service to ensure all is running as effectively and efficiently as it should be and can last up to 25 years and are available in the air to air and air to water types.
If you have a hot water cylinder, the use of solar thermal will save you so much money! Like solar panels power the electricity in a property, solar thermal panels heat the hot water in a hot water cylinder. A solar thermal panel has tubes with fluid within, the suns heat this fluid and it then circulates down to the hot water cylinder where it is transferred to a heat exchanger to heat the water in the cylinder. Again, solar thermal panels are highly efficient and of course, renewable and can work out very cost-effective.
Ground source heat pumps
Ground source heat pumps effectively work the same way as solar thermal – but they take heat from the ground. A ground loop is buried deep below ground circulating a water and antifreeze mixture which is then naturally heated by the ground, it then travels to an exchanger for heat increase before being circulated around the home. They are hugely cost-effective but can require a big initial expense and obviously, your land or garden must have enough area for the installation. As with air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps will not get as hot and won’t be as powerful as other sources hence, ground source heat pumps are not particularly recommended for powering radiators rather, underfloor heating. Ground source heat pumps are very quiet and require almost no maintenance and typically have a very long life span.
Hybrid heating systems
Most of the above can be paired together, to create a hybrid heating system. Adapting your heating to your needs and budget. For many of these options, money back via the RHI – Renewable heat incentive is also possible. Not only saving you money but also making it!