One of the questions that plumbers are increasingly being asked is about ways to make heating systems function on renewable energy. We all know that gas and coal are finite resources and that alternative ways to heat our homes will be required at some point. So many people are looking to make a switch when they upgrade their heating systems. But what are the current options available?
Biomass boilers are a fancy term for a very old-fashioned idea that has been given a makeover for modern time – the wood burning stove. These new boilers are based on the same idea as the traditional types of stove but often use wood pellets rather than logs to create energy. They are popular due to the lower cost of wood versus gas or oil and because wood is a renewable energy source.
There have been some concerns about this type of renewable energy because it does require land to create the wood to then fuel the boilers. There are also some concerns about carbon neutrality, although the burning of wood is easier to absorb through natural processes than that created by gas or electricity.
Air source heat pumps
Air source heat pumps are often paired with other types of systems to offer heat to the home – one example is pairing with underfloor heating. They supply less hot air than gas or oil boilers and there can be some extra costs to replace the existing radiators with ones that work with the system. They work by absorbing warmth from the air outside and turning it into a fluid which then moves through a compressor to increase temperature and heat the water.
They are not entirely renewable because they need electricity to function at this time. But there are other ways to power them and are particularly an effective option in the summer when the air is naturally warmer.
Solar energy heating
Solar energy panels have become a common sight on homes and businesses around the country in recent years and still offer a popular way to start with renewable energy. They are most effective in the warmer months and sometimes need a backup style of boiler for colder months when they don’t create as much power. This makes them less effective in areas of the country that see generally lower temperatures and less sunshine.
Thermal stores collect and manage renewable energy to allow you to use it when needed. It works with many existing heating systems and is a good bridge from ordinary to renewable heat sources. They can be used with systems such as solar power or biomass boilers, storing the energy until it is required. The idea is that you can store during the day and use during the night in some
The growth of renewables is something that we all realise is important but technology can sometimes let down our desire to do things differently. These are a few examples of the ways that renewables are beginning to be used in homes around the country and show some of the ways forward.
Declan Small is the Marketing Manager for Plumbmaster, plumber’s merchants with branches throughout the UK.