Most of us now take having a warm home for granted. Since the late 1960s most houses have been built with a central heating system. Usually this involves a gas boiler and radiators. But that isn’t the only way of doing it. If you want something greener, or you live off the gas grid, there are some alternatives.
1 Ground-source heat pumps
These take heat from the ground via a series of buried coils – so you’ll need a garden – http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/renewable-energy/heat/ground-source-heat-pumps and you can heat radiators or underfloor systems. They take a small amount of electricity to run, but you’ll usually get back more in heat energy. You may still need a supplementary heat source in very cold conditions.
2 Air-source heat pumps
These work in a similar way to the above but extracting heat from the air. These can be air to air – which have the advantage they can act as a cooler in summer – or air to water which produces water to heat radiators, etc. Again, you may need supplementary heat in cold conditions.
3 Underfloor heating
With a heat pump system the water doesn’t get as hot as with a boiler. Radiators may therefore not be the optimum choice. Underfloor heating works at a lower temperature and is, therefore, more suited to this type of system. It can be supplemented by a Bristol boiler installation and a company like http://www.hprservicesltd.com should be able to advise you on the feasibility.
For areas that don’t have a mains gas supply, biomass boilers are a popular choice. They burn wood chippings or pellets and can be fed automatically so there’s minimal effort other than loading the fuel hopper and cleaning out ash occasionally. They can be used for space heating and hot water in the same way as a gas or oil boiler. Biomass boilers are expensive but are likely to save on fuel costs compared to electricity.
Solar panels are usually associated with generating your own electricity. However, they can be used to heat water too. You will need to have a boiler and storage cylinder that are compatible with a solar system. Depending on your hot water use savings are not likely to be great. It is possible to get dual-purpose solar panels that provide both electricity and hot water.