When it comes to choosing how to heat your home, there are several things to bear in mind, not least the environmental impact of the system you install. Low carbon heating systems are the future, and they offer numerous benefits, from lowering your carbon footprint to saving you money on your utilities every month. Whether you’re considering an air source heat pump, ground source heat pump, solar water heating or a biomass boiler, these are some of the factors to think about before making your decision.
Whichever low carbon eco-friendly heating system you choose, your budget will play a role since you will need to make an initial financial investment before you start reaping the rewards.
An estimated cost for an air source heat pump installation can be between £15,000 and £25,000 depending on where they’re being installed and which unit you choose. Ground source heat pumps are more expensive to install as they’re more labour-intensive than air source alternatives due to the required trenching and pipe laying. These systems also require larger and more expensive units, but are ultimately more efficient to run.
If you are looking for a renewable heating system on a much smaller scale you may want to investigate solar thermal. Solar thermal systems must not be confused with solar PV systems. Solar PV systems use solar panels to generate electricity for use in your home. This energy can then be used to power your home appliances and may also be used to run immersion heaters for hot water or electric heaters. Solar thermal systems only heat hot water.
Both air source and ground source heat pumps use electricity, and although your solid fuel, LPG and mains gas costs will be reduced or eliminated altogether, your electricity usage will rise. It’s important for you to understand all of the costs before making a decision.
How much space you have available
Space is a big consideration when it comes to choosing a renewable heating system as certain options take up more room than others. Ground source heat pumps require quite a bit of space as a ground collector will need to be installed in order to collect heat from the ground. This is a long length of pipework buried over a metre underground, and typically you’ll need twice the area of the property to lay an appropriately sized ground collector for your heat pump. The heat pump unit will also require a plant room of around 5 square meters.
An air source heat pump collects heat from the air and attaches to an outside wall of your property. It looks much like a standard air conditioning unit and takes up far less space and are therefore much better suited to smaller properties or flats as a result.
A biomass boiler also requires more space. These tend to be larger than an equivalent gas or oil-fired boiler, so you may need as much as seven cubic metres of storage for the fuel for an average sized property.
If you’re interested in a solar thermal system to heat hot water you need a suitable location for your panels, ideally a south-facing roof. You will also need internal space for your water tank.
If you have a suitable location for solar thermal, you may want to investigate solar PV. Generating your own electricity to run your low carbon heating system may help the cost savings add up!
Is it compatible with your existing home set-up?
Your current heating system and the top of property you own will influence what you’re able to install and the savings that you can expect to see on your energy bills. Your existing plumbing, with regards to radiators and associated pipework may not be able to operate with a heat pump running at a lower temperature to your current boiler.
However, if your property is modern, well insulated with underfloor heating a heat pump will work well and depending on your budget and the amount of land you have air source or ground source could be an option.
If you are currently on mains gas you are unlikely to see any significant cost savings in your energy bills unless you are also looking to install solar PV to produce low cost energy to run your home. However, if your home is not connected to mains gas then a renewable heating system could make a big difference to your fuel bills.
Of course, switching to a renewable, low or no carbon heating system – whichever one you choose – has the added advantage or reducing emissions and lowering your carbon footprint which could be the overall aim for your project.
Service and Maintenance
Like any heating and cooling system, regular servicing is recommended and many systems require an annual service to keep them within their warranties. A yearly service also ensures that your heat pump keeps running as efficiently as possible and any issues are identified before they become a problem.
Heat pumps are more cost-effective to maintain than traditional heating systems as they have fewer moving parts and long guarantees. At Geo Green Power, we recommend an annual service for air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps, helping to keep your system running effectively for 20 – 30 years.
Need advice? Get in touch
Choosing the right eco-friendly heating system can take a bit of research but getting it right can save on your utility bills and make your home greener. The team at Geo Green Power have extensive experience in all types of renewable energy systems, so we’re in a great position to help you make the right choice for your property and lifestyle. Contact us for further information or advice on the different options available.