Are there really any viable environmentally friendly alternatives to heating your home? Gas and coal were historically responsible for over 70% of the UK’s electricity production. However, in recent years, renewable energy sources have provided more electricity to UK homes. Utilising renewable energy can massively reduce our environmental impact and help to save money on household bills.
Many countries across the world are now setting net-zero carbon emissions targets. The list of carbon-emitting processes and activities is extensive, but certain societal demands are more damning than others. The energy, transportation and agricultural industries are among the highest contributors to carbon-emissions across the globe.
One element of the energy industry that has been unsustainable for decades now is home heating. Gas boilers and unsustainable central heating do not fit into the new eco-conscious world. Not only does burning gas produce carbon dioxide (and monoxide sometimes), which the world is trying to avoid, the UK has to import gas from around the world making it subject to global trade, sky-rocketing prices and further fossil fuel-based transportation.
So, the bottom line is that gas central heating is not a long-term solution. Here are some viable alternatives that may become more prevalent in the UK in years to come.
The best alternative heating solution, with the lowest initial investment cost, is electric heating. Modern electric wall heaters are more energy efficient than central heating and gas boiler systems because energy is not wasted in the form of heat loss through pipe networks. If renewable energy is used to power electric heaters, they essentially produce no carbon emissions.
Furthermore, they are fully controllable with smart technology, so energy wastage can be kept to a minimum. Long gone are the days of unattractive electric radiators, now electric heating units are elegantly designed and can add to the aesthetic of your home, rather than detract from it.
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Air or ground source heat pumps cost considerably more than electric heating units. However, they are a sustainable option that can lower your energy bills and reduce carbon emissions.
Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the air outside. They can even absorb heat from temperatures as low as -15 degrees. For those with larger garden spaces, a ground source heat pump may be a better option. Despite a high initial cost, ground pumps can save you lots of money in the long term.
Biomass heating emits fewer carbon emissions compared to burning fossil fuels. Biomass heating relies on burning wood, plants and organic matter. Although burning these materials produces carbon dioxide, it is considerably less than fossil fuels. To offset the matter being burnt, you will need to plant more trees to restore the environmental balance.
You can also heat water with biomass heating. Fit a back boiler to burn logs, chips and other matter connected to the hot water system. A wood-fuelled boiler could save you a whopping £700 a year, but the technology still needs to be refined.
6% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by air con, heating and refrigerators.– @wireduk
A district heat network supplies heat from one location to many homes. For example, there may be a network of underground pipes that carry hot water to various buildings. Networks can be extended because new heat demands and sources can be added over time.
Heat networks are a brilliant option for those in dense city areas – who may not have the ground space for a heat pump or biomass heating. Heat networks are far more efficient than localised boilers, and they use low carbon heat sources.
So, there are certainly viable alternatives to gas central heating, but investment and incentives from governments and local councils will be needed to boost the uptake of these more environmentally friendly heating solutions.