Finding a smarter way to heat your home
If you’re thinking about installing a new heating system in your home, or even a system to generate your own heat, the best place to start is by making sure that your home is properly insulated, so that the heat system you choose can be at it’s most efficient.
Before we share our suggestions for new systems to consider, ask yourself the following to find the right heating for your home:
- Does your roof face the right way to consider solar panels and solar thermal?
- Does your home have space inside and outside for heating panels, pumps or wood-fuelled systems?
- Do you have a stream or river running past to generate hydroelectricity?
- What’s the average wind speed in your garden for wind turbines?
- Do you want to generate heat, electricity or both? What’s more cost-effective long-term?
A load of hot air
One way of generating heat for your home is to install air source heat pumps. This technology absorbs heat from the outside air, which can be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating or warm air convectors and hot water. It can even get heat from air in temperatures as low as -15°C.
Heat pumps are well suited to providing heat at lower temperatures over longer periods of time, so are a good option for those looking for a steady, consistent temperature. Costing between £6,000 - £10,000 to install, air pump running costs will vary depending on the size of your home. But there are savings to be made compared to electric heating and maintenance is minimal on this ‘fit and forget’ technology.
In much the same way that air source heat pumps work, ground source pipes extract heat from the ground to warm your home. By circulating a mix of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipe underground, heat is absorbed into the fluid and passed through a heat exchanger into a pump to feed your home.
The size of the ground loop will depend on the size of your house you want to heat, so there is a big consideration when it comes to the amount of ground you have to bury it in.
A typical ground source heating system can cost from £9,000 - £17,000. And while this initial expense is large, the upside is a significant reduction in the fuel bill and carbon emissions for heating your home and hot water, and you could even qualify for a subsidy through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.
Warmth of the sun
Another option is to use the free heat from the sun to warm your hot water. Systems work all year round, although they will likely have to be supplemented in the winter months with a boiler or immersion heater to help you heat the water to the desired temperature.
The initial installation of solar panels and a hot water cylinder will cost you somewhere around £5,000. And because sunlight is free your ongoing costs will be next to nothing.
Become a firestarter
Wood-fuelled heating (or biomass systems) burn wood pellets, chips or logs to provide warmth in a single room, or to power central heating and hot water boilers. Prices to install a wood-fuelled stove and boiler can vary – anywhere from £2,000 for just a stove, to £13,000 for an automatically-fed pellet boiler, flue and fuel store.
However, a wood-fuelled boiler can save you nearly £600 a year compared to electric heating.
It is also worth considering the cost of fuel and where you can store it. For example, the most economical way to use wood pellets is to buy several tonnes at a time, which can keep costs down to about £200 per tonne. Logs can be cheaper, depending on the suppliers in your area or whether you can store a year’s worth of unseasoned logs for a year before burning.
If the latest gadgets and smart tech is your thing, then exploring options such as the Nest or Honeywell thermostats can also save you money and make heating your home more efficient. By learning your heating (and cooling) routines, these thermostats can lower your bills by up to 20%. Some can be remote controlled with your smartphone, making it easy to control the temperature and select energy efficient modes when you’re away from home. Something as simple as turning down the temperature by one degree can cut energy use by 5%.
However you choose to heat your home, considering some of the latest technologies and systems on the market could keep your house cosy and give you savings that leave you all warm and fuzzy inside.