Climate change is causing increasingly longer spells of cold weather and more intense winters than we are used to. You also want to have a home that is cool enough in the summer months without breaking the bank with each change of season, not to mention doing your part by reducing your carbon footprint.
Gas v Electric Heating
Keeping our homes warm and toasty is necessary in the UK; with traditional heaters falling out of fashion and the cost of HVAC systems increasing each year, finding alternative heating options is vital. Gas and electric heating systems are the most popular and readily available options for homeowners looking to keep things comfy. Here’s a breakdown of these two main heating options for UK homes:
The first thing to consider when opting for gas is whether or not you can link your home up to the gas network. As common as gas has become, not all UK homes have direct access to the network, meaning this option may be off the table for you for now. Let’s look at some pros and cons of gas heating:
Gas Heating Pros
Efficiency: Newer gas heating systems boast boilers with high heat retention and impressive returns on every unit of energy.
Easy Maintenance: Gas heating systems are affordable and simple to maintain. Replacing a boiler is effortless. Once the initial infrastructure is in place, keeping your gas system in tip-top shape is straightforward.
Gas Heating Cons
Annual Boiler CheckUp: Boilers in gas systems should be checked at least once a year to ensure they are safe and operating optimally, which can be a hassle for some.
Initial Expenses: Installing a gas system can come with a pretty intimidating price tag. The process can be time-consuming, especially if you are not connected to the gas network.
Electric heating has moved to the forefront of the industry, and many homeowners view it as the future while considering gas and oil heating a thing of the past. Electric heating is prevalent but can be costly; let's take a look at the pros and cons of electric heating for your home:
Electric Heating Pros
Initial Expenses: Installing an electric heating system is far simpler and cheaper than a gas system; this affordability makes electric heating an enticing option for new homes.
Easy Installation: Electric systems require far less elbow grease to have installed; this makes it an excellent option for those who do not have access to the gas network or need heating fast.
Electric Heating Cons
Less Affordable Long-Term: Operating costs of an electric system are considerably higher than that of gas systems, especially for those living in the UK, where heating is needed more often than not.
Slower Heating: Unlike gas systems that fire at 100% from when it is turned on, electric heating uses a gradual increase in power to provide the initial heat. This means you might want to leave your coat on for a good few minutes after returning home from work and firing up your electric heating.
The Future of Heating
While Gas and Electric options are readily available, one thing to remember is how the future of heating is being driven by the need to reduce carbon emissions. In 2019 the Committee on Climate Change recommended that all homes built after 2025 be fitted with low-carbon heating systems.
This change is seeing a rapid increase in climate-conscious homeowners getting ahead of the ball and installing new heating systems like heat pumps, direct electric heating systems and hydrogen-powered heating. These newer systems are slightly more expensive, mainly due to their relative infancy, but experts expect a rapid decrease in costs as the industry becomes more competitive. Let’s take a look at some of these low-carbon heating systems:
Heat Pumps: Heat pump systems are predominantly either air-to-air or air-to-water heating systems that are installed outdoors. They operate by using the air outside and converting it to heat, either air or water being distributed through your home. They are effective in even the coldest weather.
Direct Electric Heating: The most expensive of the new alternatives, direct electric heating is considered the least favourite option due to concerns of it creating power shortages despite there being zero emissions at the point of use.
Heat Networks: An option being eyed for cities due to its centralized nature, a single heat network or district will provide multiple homes with heat and reduce the overall heating systems required in a single area.
Energy Efficiency Tips
Know Where You Are At
Complete an audit on your home, look for any gaps letting cool air in, check your heating equipment, and whether or not you have the appropriate insulation in your home. You can even consider calling in a professional to conduct a full energy audit and provide solutions to increase efficiency.
Consider Your Options
It would be best if you considered all the options available to you. You may not have the budget to renovate or have an architecture plan drawing for your new home to be optimally energy-efficient. There may be simpler solutions. For instance, changing your energy supplier can easily reduce costs while looking for better ways to conserve energy.
Fill the Gaps
Whether it is your floorboards, around doors, or your windows, checking these areas for leaks and ensuring you address them is crucial to reducing energy consumption. Even the slightest draft can drastically reduce your home's temperature and mean running your heating system at a higher setting or more extended period; either way, you're spending more.
Check your heating system and its components. As reluctant as you may be to fork out for a new system, this could save you a ton in the long run. More updated systems are also a lot more efficient and can provide better results with lower consumption.
Adding smart control systems to your lighting and heating means effortlessly ensuring you only use what is needed. The initial cost of these systems can be intimidating, but they generally pay for themselves with the savings you see from using them.
With heating being the largest energy consumer in the United Kingdom, we must learn the best ways to achieve the desired results without breaking the bank or the environment. While the list above is not comprehensive, it does cover the most critical aspects for any UK homeowner to consider.