Whether you’re in the process of planning how to heat a new extension, or just looking for ways to reduce your existing home heating bills, you may be wondering what the alternatives are to basic gas and electric heating. With very few ways to reduce home heating costs when using conventional heating sources, moving your system to an alternative setup can be the best way to significantly reduce your expenditure on heating. We have compiled a list of some of the options – each have their own benefits, some may be better than others depending on your circumstances. It’s worth also noting that not only can these alternative sources potentially save you money, all but oil fired central heating can be considered as using renewable energy sources and therefore also reducing the cost on the environment.
If your home is not on mains gas, your only option may be to use oil to fire your boiler. As this is a fossil fuel, it isn’t exactly earth-friendly and the costs can be high compared to gas, however you may be able to find bio-oils which will reduce the carbon footprint.
You get two types of these heating options: ground source and air source. They both work in a similar way by taking the heat produced in the air or in the ground and concentrating it before pumping it into your home. These systems tend to work best in underfloor heating systems as they will maintain a low overall temperature. You will need electricity for the unit to run – but this is minimal compared to the amount of heat they produce.
These are essentially similar to a wood burner, but they run on wood pellets and can even burn your household waste. However they require quite a bit of space and will be connected to your boiler. The best options have automatic pellet feeders, otherwise you will need to keep a close eye on it to ensure they are not running low on fuel. Some councils are now encouraging businesses to use these to provide their own heating sources and to reduce their waste.
For heating your hot water you can use solar thermal systems which basically run your water across tubes on your roof, heating the water with sunlight as it goes. This reduces the amount of electricity or gas used to heat the water for use. For home heating, photovoltaic cells (more commonly known as Solar PV or just simply ‘solar panels’) can produce electricity which you can use for underfloor heating or electric radiators.
Fires and stoves
Aesthetically a wood-burner is an attractive option for your home and will effectively heat the room it is in. The best ones may even produce enough heat to warm other rooms. However you are burning wood which produces carbon – although it has been argued that wood is a renewable fuel and that the planting of new trees is far outstripping the ones burned so the result is carbon neutral. Your wood burner can also be attached to a back boiler to heat your radiators, as a more effective way to heat the rest of your house.