Sustainable Heating: Renewable Heat Energy Systems for Your Home, by Lisa Camfield
Heating systems have changed drastically over time, from traditional wood or coal fireplaces, to gas heaters, and full central heating systems complete with boilers and radiators. There are many different ways to heat your home, but most have always needed to use some type of fossil fuel to power it. Now there has been a shift from using energy like electricity and gas to power heating systems that use renewable energy.
These systems are often more expensive to install than older heating technology, but the savings that can be made once they are up and running can be substantial. With energy prices rising, and governments offering subsidies to people that decide to have a renewable heat energy systems installed in their home, it is well worth considering changing the way you heat home. Here is a run-down of the best heating systems that use renewable energy.
Solar Hot Water Systems
One great way to make savings on your energy bills is to install a solar hot water system. A large solar panel, around the size of skylight window, is positioned on your roof in a place where it will collect the most solar energy. This heats water which is sent to a hot water cylinder in your home, and if need be will receive a short boost in heating by your traditional boiler so it reached the desired temperature.
This is by far one of the cheapest ways to equip your home with a renewable heat system, and is also relatively simple to install. Expect to pay in the region of $7500 (£4650) for a full installation of the technology, make a saving of roughly $100 (£60) a month on your energy bills compared to just using a typical gas boiler, and reduce your carbon footprint. There are a number of different solar hot water systems on the market, but two of the best are produced by Filsol and Solartwin.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
One of the most environmentally friendly ways to heat your home is by installing a ground source heat pump. These tap into the abundant energy source which is the heat trapped underground. A large coiled pipe filled with fluid is buried deep under the earth in your garden. The fluid is heated up naturally by the surrounding earth, and the heat is transferred to a heat exchanger. The exchanger then has the energy to make hot water for washing, cleaning, and heating your home.
Ground source heat pumps can make an amazing contribution to your hot water and heating needs, on average providing up to 80 percent of your household’s normal consumption. Possibly the most comprehensive solution to your home heating, the only real downside to ground source heat pumps are their price. The price varies with the size of the heat pump, but you are looking at anywhere from $14,500 (£9,000) to $27,500 (£17,000) for a full installation.
The equipment is big, so you will need to arrange a pallet delivery to get it to your home. Also, this type of heating solution is only suitable for homes with a garden big enough too, and the process of digging up the garden can be quite disruptive and time-consuming. If you think a ground source heat pump is an option that might work for you, a couple of good companies to look at are Kensa and Master Them.
If reducing your carbon emissions is top of your priorities when deciding what type of renewable heat system to install, then a biomass boiler is the one to choose. You could reduce your annual emissions by up to one tonne compared with a condensing gas boiler. These boilers are the size of a large refrigerator and run on some type of wood, whether its sawdust, wood chips, or logs. The idea is that as long as you use a sustainable source of wood, which means replacement trees are planted in place of the ones cut down for use a fuel, the whole process is sustainable.
There are some concerns that over time sustainable sources of wood will become harder to find, so it is up to the user to source their fuel ethically. The main drawback to a biomass boiler is that it might actually end up costing you a bit more to heat your home using one compared to a gas boiler. This one is a great choice if you live near a forest and have access to your own source of wood. Expect to pay around $17,500 (£11,000) for one of these, and some of the best models can be bought from Froling or Eco Angus.
New Technologies Approaching
As the drive towards reducing our carbon footprint gathers pace, more and more companies are innovating in the area of renewable heating systems, so it is likely that new technologies will become available in the near future. You can also expect the price of the current technology to drop over time, so if the price puts you off at the moment, hold on a couple of years until the price of these systems plummets.