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What Is The Greenest Way Of Heating Your Home?

Written by Duncan under General, Heaters | No Comments ""

There is a considerable rise in awareness of the urgent need to conserve energy, particularly as we are still mostly dependent on fossil fuels (be it oil, coal or gas) for most of our needs. Many maintain that the energy revolution should begin at home and while individuals are never going to change the future of the Earth through personal initiatives, most revolutions start with a small step in the right direction.   So, in an ideal world what would be the most fuel and resource efficient way of heating your home?

Wet radiant systems use hot water under the floors to heat your home using solar radiation.  Great if you have access to enough guaranteed sunshine or you can heat the water using an equally renewable resource.

Geothermal heat pumps run off the virtually inexhaustible heat that drives the Earths continent’s apart and huge district-level schemes already exist in Iceland.  Installation costs were high, but low operating costs soon amortise that investment.   You don’t need to have geysers erupting in your back garden for this to work.   Ground source or geothermal heat pumps are already quite widely used in the UK, mostly in commercial new build projects where a percentage of all the energy has to come from a renewable resource by law.  However, they are also available for domestic applications.  They work just like a refrigerator, but in reverse.  A single deep borehole in the garden or a looped array of pipes buried about 1.2 metres below the surface extracts heat stored in the Earth. In summer, the cycle is reversed, cooling the room to a comfortable temperature. If you’re thinking of having a ground source heat pump installed you may be eligible for a grant through the Low Carbon Buildings Programme.

Solar panels have been used  successfully in many homes to either heat water directly or use photovoltaic cells to generate electricity that can later be stored in batteries. The solar panels are normally installed on the roof and even in the UK, while they could probably not entirely replace an existing system, they could augment it enough to justify the cost of installation.  There’s a government scheme in place (Feed In Tariff Scheme) which obliges electricity companies to pay you for the power you produce at home when you install solar panels.  They are the subject of some controversy however as the cost will be recovered in the form of higher bills on those who don’t (or can’t)  have these panels installed.

Biofuel is the preferred choice of some to replace oil-fired installation and while they may seem to be attractive alternatives for replacing fossil-based fuels, the true environmental cost of these lies in the fact that acres of otherwise productive farmland or virgin forest have to be cleared for their growth.  Storage and transportation costs will often also outweigh any carbon offset advantages.

Electric heaters provide an immediate and highly controllable method of heating areas around the home.   The main objections to these from a green perspective are efficiency and how the electricity to operate them has been generated.  With convector heaters the air flow is driven by natural convection – hot air rising – and there are no moving parts (unless you get models with turbo fans), so these units are very cost effective to run.  Used in conjunction with a solar photovoltaic system, an electric heating system of any kind would be really green.


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