Low Carbon Heating Systems

An Introduction to Sustainable Heating Systems
As climate change continues to pose a growing threat to our planet, it has become increasingly important to reduce carbon emissions across all sectors, particularly the heating industry.

Globally, heating contributes 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Low carbon heating systems are an effective way to reduce carbon emissions in homes and commercial buildings while also offering a range of benefits, such as energy savings, improved air quality, and increased property value. In this article, we will explore the different types of low carbon heating systems available, the benefits of using them, and the challenges and solutions associated with their implementation. 

Key Takeaways

 

  • Low carbon heating systems are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional heating systems that rely on fossil fuels.
  • Heat pumps, electric boilers, biomass boilers, micro-CHP systems, solar water heating, and hybrid heating systems are all examples of low carbon heating systems that can help to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions.
  • Each low carbon heating system has its own set of pros and cons, and the best option for a particular property will depend on a range of factors including the size of the property, the climate, and the availability of fuel sources.
  • Regardless of what low carbon energy heating system is used, the efficiency of the system can always be improved by optimizing the performance of the wet heating system. EndoTherm is a cost-effective solution for improving the efficiency of wet heating systems, reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
  • It’s important to work with a qualified heating engineer or installer to ensure that a low carbon heating system is designed, installed, and maintained to a high standard.

Benefits of Low Carbon Heating

There are several benefits to using low carbon heating systems:

  • Reduced carbon emissions: Low carbon heating systems emit fewer carbon emissions than traditional heating systems, helping to reduce the impact of climate change.
  • Energy savings: Low carbon heating systems are often more efficient than traditional heating systems, leading to energy savings and lower energy bills.
  • Improved indoor air quality: Low carbon heating systems do not produce harmful pollutants, leading to better indoor air quality and improved health.
  • Increased property value: Low carbon heating systems can increase the value of a property, making it more attractive to buyers.

 

Low Carbon Heating Systems - CO2

 

Choosing a Low Carbon Heating System

Choosing the right low carbon heating system will depend on a range of factors, including the size of the building, the climate in the area, and the budget available. Consider the following before choosing a system:

  • Building size: The size of the building will determine the size of the heating system needed.
  • Climate: The climate in the area will determine which type of system will work best.
  • Budget: Low carbon heating systems can be more expensive than traditional heating systems, so it is important to consider the budget available.

Steps to choosing a system:

  1. Research different types of low carbon heating systems.
  2. Consider the factors listed above.
  3. Seek advice from a professional heating engineer.
  4. Compare the costs and benefits of different systems.

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Low Carbon Heating Systems

There are several types of low carbon heating systems available on the market today, including heat pumps, low-carbon boilers, solar water heating, and hybrid heating systems. Let’s take a closer look at each of these systems:

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are an efficient and low carbon way to heat buildings. They work by extracting heat from the air, ground, or water outside the building and using it to heat the inside. There are three types of heat pumps: Air Source Heat Pumps, Ground Source Heat Pumps, and Water Source Heat Pumps.

  • Air Source Heat Pumps extract heat from the air outside the building and use it to heat the inside. They work best in mild climates and are less efficient in very cold temperatures.
  • Ground Source Heat Pumps extract heat from the ground and use it to heat the inside. They are more efficient than air source heat pumps and can work in colder temperatures.
  • Water Source Heat Pumps extract heat from water sources, such as lakes or rivers, and use it to heat the inside. They are more efficient than air source heat pumps and can work in colder temperatures.

 

Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps

 

Pros

  • Energy efficiency: Heat pumps are significantly more energy efficient than traditional heating systems, such as gas boilers or electric resistance heaters. They can provide up to 4 units of heat for every unit of electricity used to power them, which can result in lower energy bills.
  • Low carbon emissions: Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from one place to another, rather than burning fossil fuels to generate heat. This means that they produce much lower carbon emissions than traditional heating systems, which can help to reduce the carbon footprint of a property.
  • Versatility: Heat pumps can be used for both heating and cooling, making them a versatile option for properties that require both. They can also be used to heat water for domestic use, which can further improve their energy efficiency.
  • Long lifespan: Heat pumps typically last longer than traditional heating systems, with a lifespan of around 15-25 years. This can make them a good long-term investment for homeowners.

Cons

  • Higher upfront cost: Heat pumps can be more expensive to install than traditional heating systems, which can be a barrier to adoption for some homeowners. However, the long-term energy savings can often offset this higher initial cost.
  • Dependent on electricity: Heat pumps require electricity to operate, which means that they may not be suitable for properties that experience frequent power outages or have limited access to electricity. However, battery backup systems can help to mitigate this issue.
  • Requires careful sizing and installation: Heat pumps need to be carefully sized and installed to ensure that they operate efficiently and effectively. Poor installation can result in decreased performance and higher energy bills.
  • May not be suitable for very cold climates: Heat pumps are most efficient in moderate climates, and may struggle to provide sufficient heat in very cold temperatures. However, advances in technology are making heat pumps increasingly suitable for colder climates.
Low Carbon Heating Systems - Heat Pump

Low-Carbon Boilers

Low-carbon boilers are another type of low carbon heating system. They use renewable energy sources, such as electricity or biomass, to heat water, which is then used to heat the building. There are three types of low-carbon boilers: Electric Combi Boilers, Biomass Boilers, and Micro-CHP Systems.

 

  • Electric Combi Boilers use electricity to heat water and are a good option for buildings that cannot use gas. They are also very efficient and produce no carbon emissions.
  • Biomass Boilers use wood pellets or chips to heat water, which is then used to heat the building. They are a good option for rural areas where wood is readily available.
  • Micro-CHP Systems generate electricity and heat simultaneously, making them a very efficient option. They use natural gas or LPG and are best suited for larger buildings.

Electric Combi Boilers

 

Pros

  • Low carbon emissions: Electric boilers produce no carbon emissions on site, making them an environmentally friendly option.
  • Energy efficient: Electric boilers are highly energy efficient, especially when paired with renewable sources of electricity such as solar panels.
  • Compact design: Electric boilers are often smaller and more compact than traditional boilers, making them a good option for properties with limited space.

Cons

  • Limited capacity: Electric boilers may struggle to provide sufficient heat for larger properties, or in areas with very cold temperatures.
  • Dependent on electricity: As with heat pumps, electric boilers require a reliable source of electricity to operate.
  • May not be suitable for off-grid properties: Properties that are off-grid may struggle to supply enough electricity to power an electric boiler, especially during periods of high demand.

 

Low Carbon Heating Systems - Electric Combi Boiler

Biomass Boilers

 

Pros

  • Renewable energy source: Biomass fuel is a renewable energy source, making biomass boilers a low-carbon alternative to traditional oil or gas boilers.
  • Cost effective: Biomass fuel can be cheaper than traditional fossil fuels, making biomass boilers a cost-effective option for some properties.
  • Versatile fuel options: Biomass boilers can be fueled with a range of materials, including wood chips, pellets, and logs.

Cons

  • Requires space for fuel storage: Biomass boilers require space for storing the fuel, which can be a challenge for smaller properties.
  • Higher upfront cost: Biomass boilers can be more expensive to install than traditional boilers, although this cost can often be offset by lower fuel costs over time.
  • Maintenance requirements: Biomass boilers require regular maintenance to ensure they operate efficiently and effectively.
Low Carbon Heating Systems - Boimass Boiler

Micro-CHP Systems

 

Pros

  • Energy efficient: Micro-CHP systems generate both heat and electricity, making them highly energy efficient.
  • Low carbon emissions: Micro-CHP systems produce lower carbon emissions than traditional heating systems, as they generate electricity on site.
  • Cost effective: Micro-CHP systems can help to reduce energy bills, as they generate electricity on site and can earn money through government incentives such as the Feed-in Tariff.

Cons

  • Limited availability: Micro-CHP systems are not yet widely available in the UK, and may be more difficult to source and install than traditional boilers.
  • May require additional installation and retrofitting: Micro-CHP systems may require additional installation and retrofitting, such as upgrading the property’s electrical system, which can add to the overall cost.
  • Maintenance requirements: Micro-CHP systems require regular maintenance to ensure they operate efficiently and effectively, which can add to the overall cost of ownership.

Overall, each low-carbon boiler option has its own set of pros and cons, and the best option for a particular property will depend on a range of factors including the size of the property, the climate, and the availability of fuel sources.


Solar Water Heating

Solar water heating uses energy from the sun to heat water, which is then used to heat the building. This is a very low carbon option and can be used in conjunction with other heating systems, such as boilers or heat pumps.

 

Pros and Cons of Solar Water Heating

 

Pros

  • Renewable energy source: Solar water heating systems use energy from the sun to heat water, which is a renewable and sustainable energy source.
  • Low carbon emissions: Solar water heating systems produce very low carbon emissions, making them an environmentally friendly heating option.
  • Cost effective: Once installed, solar water heating systems can significantly reduce energy bills, as they use free energy from the sun to heat water.
  • Long lifespan: Solar water heating systems are durable and typically have a lifespan of around 20-30 years, making them a good long-term investment for homeowners.

Cons

  • Dependent on sunlight: Solar water heating systems require sunlight to function, which means they may not be suitable for all climates or areas with limited sunlight.
  • Higher upfront cost: The initial cost of installing a solar water heating system can be higher than other heating options, although this cost can often be offset by long-term energy savings.
  • Requires space for installation: Solar water heating systems require space for installation, including roof space for the solar panels and a separate tank for storing the heated water.
  • Maintenance requirements: Solar water heating systems require regular maintenance to ensure they operate efficiently and effectively, which can add to the overall cost of ownership.
Low Carbon Heating Systems - Solar Water Heater

Hybrid Heating Systems

Hybrid heating systems combine two or more heating systems to provide efficient and low carbon heating. For example, a system may combine a heat pump with a boiler or a heat pump with solar water heating.

 

Pros and Cons of Hybrid Heating Systems

 

Pros

  • Energy efficient: Hybrid heating systems combine multiple heating technologies to provide a more energy-efficient solution than a single system alone. For example, combining a heat pump with a boiler or solar water heating can help to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions.
  • Versatile: Hybrid heating systems can be tailored to meet the specific heating needs of a property, with different heating technologies used in different ways depending on the climate and energy demands.
  • Reliable: Hybrid heating systems can provide a more reliable source of heat than a single system alone, as they can switch between different heating technologies depending on the demands of the property.
  • Can help to future-proof a property: Hybrid heating systems can be designed to incorporate emerging technologies, such as battery storage or smart controls, which can help to future-proof a property against changes in energy regulations and technology.

Cons

  • Higher upfront cost: Hybrid heating systems can be more expensive to install than a single heating system, as they require multiple technologies and components.
  • Complex installation: Hybrid heating systems require careful design and installation to ensure that they operate effectively and efficiently, which can add to the overall cost.
  • Maintenance requirements: Hybrid heating systems require regular maintenance to ensure that all components are working effectively and efficiently, which can add to the overall cost of ownership.
  • May require specialist expertise: Hybrid heating systems may require specialist expertise to design, install, and maintain, which can limit the availability of qualified engineers and increase the cost of servicing and repairs.

Improving Efficiency with EndoTherm

Regardless of what low carbon energy heating system is used, the efficiency of the system can always be improved by optimising the performance of the wet heating system. This is where EndoTherm comes in.

EndoTherm is an additive that can be added to any wet heating system that changes the properties of the system fluid to perform better.

Independent tests have shown that EndoTherm can save up to 15% on heating energy consumption.

By improving the performance of the wet heating system, EndoTherm can help low carbon energy heating systems to operate even more efficiently, further reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

EndoTherm is a cost-effective and easy-to-install solution for improving the efficiency of wet heating systems. It can be added to any wet heating system, including those that use heat pumps, biomass boilers, or solar water heating.

By optimizing the performance of the wet heating system, EndoTherm can help to maximize the energy savings and carbon reductions of low carbon energy heating systems.

Low Carbon Heating Systems can further improve efficiency with EndoTherm

Funding and Grants for Low Carbon Heating Systems

Depending on your location there may be funding and grant options available for those considering low carbon heating systems. In the UK the Domestic and Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentice (RHI) are both closed to new applicants, only applications following a change of ownership can be made now that the scheme has closed. This leaves the following sources of funding still available at time of publishing:

 

  • The Boiler Upgrade Schemehttps://www.gov.uk/apply-boiler-upgrade-scheme
    Formerley known as the Clean Heat Grant, the boiler upgrade scheme runs from 2022 to 2025. Low carbon heating systems commissioned (installed and checked by approved installers) on or after 1 April 2022 will be available for funding.
  • Low Carbon Workspaceshttps://www.lowcarbonworkspaces.co.uk/
    A grant scheme offering funding to eligble Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) towards low carbon projects that will be based at a commercial premises located within one of the eligible areas (Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire).
  • SME Energy Efficiency Scheme (SMEES)https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support/sme-energy-efficiency-scheme-smees
    Fully funded energy efficiency audits, expert advice and capital grants as contribution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy consumption for SMEs located in Tees Valley
  • Low Carbon Innovation Fund – East of Englandhttps://lcif.vc/
    Investment into early and late stage ventures by eligible SMEs that make measurable reductions to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Climate Action Fund – Energy and Climatehttps://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/climate-action-fund-energy
    Aiming to support communities across the UK to address the energy and climate crisis. Eligible projects can apply currenly but the fund is closing to new applications on 30 June 2023.
  • Camden Climate Fundhttps://www.camden.gov.uk/camden-climate-fund
    The Camden Climate Fund can provide up to 50% of costs to reduce the carbon used in our homes, business and community spaces. The fund also offers grants to small groups of residents and community groups to kickstart climate action and help deliver local carbon-saving projects.
  • The Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF)https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/green-heat-network-fund-ghnf
    The GHNF is open to organisations in the public or private sectors in England and aims to develop and grow the heat network market and to address some of the challenges of decarbonising the UK’s heat sector.
  • Warmer Homes Scotlandhttps://www.homeenergyscotland.org/warmer-home/
    Warmer Homes Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government, offers low carbon, energy-efficient home improvements like central heating and insulation to eligible households, reducing the cost of energy bills and making homes more comfortable to heat. Referrals are currently paused by will be re-starting in October 2023.
  • Business Energy Scotland – SME Loan Schemehttps://businessenergyscotland.org/smeloan/
    Loans up to £100K are available to help to pay for energy and carbon-saving upgrades to businesses. The loan is available to Scottish SMEs, not-for-profit organisations and charities.

Future of Low Carbon Heating

As technology continues to advance, the future of low carbon heating looks promising. Some potential developments include:

  • Off-grid heating systems: Advances in technology could lead to the development of off-grid heating systems that are powered by renewable energy sources.
  • Technological advancements: Advances in technology could lead to the development of more efficient and effective low carbon heating systems.
  • Environmental impact: The widespread adoption of low carbon heating systems could have a significant impact on the environment, helping to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

Challenges and Solutions

While low carbon heating systems offer many benefits, there are also challenges associated with their implementation. The following solutions can help address these challenges:

 

  • The hydrogen network: The development of a hydrogen network could provide a low carbon alternative to natural gas, which is currently used to power many heating systems.
  • Sustainable supply: Ensuring a sustainable supply of renewable energy sources is crucial for the continued growth of low carbon heating systems.
  • Storage solutions: Developing effective storage solutions for renewable energy sources will help ensure consistent and reliable heating.
Overall, low carbon heating systems offer a sustainable and cost-effective way to provide heat and hot water to a property while reducing carbon emissions. With the right system and support, homeowners, businesses, and organizations can make a positive impact on the environment while enjoying the benefits of low carbon heating.
 

How it Works

EndoTherm is independently proven to save up to 15% on heating bills.