As the months begin to get colder, the conversation about emissions and how energy is consumed begins to ramp up again. The urgency of transitioning to efficient and clean solutions for heating is key to these conversations.
Gas boilers are still heating 85% of the UK’s homes, and the news of new oil and gas licences being awarded and net zero policies being altered further signified that renewable adoption needs to increase.
88% of the public supports renewable energy, and in the past 12 months, 47% of Britons have purchased low-carbon technology. Using the autumn months to transition in preparation for the winter ones can avoid instances of being caught short by unexpected gas boiler services or leaky radiators.
Alternative methods of heating, such as electric, have emerged as serious contenders to push ahead in the transition away from fossil fuels. Electric heating provides 100% efficiency and emits zero emissions when used with renewable energy.
Keith Bastian, CEO of Fischer Future Heat, which specialises in electrical methods of heating, has one goal:
“Our target is just to ensure that every home has a form of heating that has the ability to help us reach net zero.”
Moving away from fossil fuels is just one of the many key benefits of switching to electricity.
Power to solar
Despite the myths, solar panels work year-round. Their output spikes heavily during the summer because of the long daylight hours and increased sunlight.
Output from solar energy increases by 50% compared to the winter months. Combining solar panels with a battery will then allow you to store this energy to use in the evenings and when the sun isn’t shining.
During June 2023, solar power was generating around 27% of the UK’s power needs each lunchtime over the course of the weeks. According to EcoExperts, a typical three-bedroom house with solar panels could save up to 62% on their electricity bills.
If you live in London, you could potentially save around £505 a year, as well as 750kg of carbon dioxide emissions.
Incorporating a solar system with electric heating or air-source heat pumps can further decrease carbon emissions from the home and promote energy efficiency.
Switching to electric puts the user firmly in control of their heat consumption. During the summer months, there is no reason to heat an entire house, but occasionally the room you are in could require a top-up of heat.
Individual room thermostats allow the user to tailor specific rooms to desired levels of comfort. Keith Bastian believes that:
“Possessing greater control doesn’t just mean additional convenience. It also means a reduction in carbon emissions and the potential to reduce energy use.”
With electric heating, short bursts of active energy consumption are all that’s required to maintain comfortable temperatures even when the radiator is not drawing energy.
Hybrid heat pumps
Heat pumps are one of the “key technologies” for decarbonisation efforts, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.
Taking heat from the air and elevating it to a higher temperature using a compressor, it then transfers the heat to the heating system in your home. The government has provided grants via the “boiler upgrade scheme” which provides customers with £7,500 off the price of installation to aid in the switch.
Air-source heat pumps are compatible with solar energy sources and with existing gas boilers.
The technology is ever-evolving, and adaptation for widespread use is already taking place, ranging from increased sizing to some models allowing autonomy between the hot water side of the system and the heating side, making it possible to switch off the external heat pump unit in the summer, reducing noise pollution.
The government has set a target to be net zero by 2050. By law, this means greenhouse gas emissions need to be rapidly reduced.
40% of UK emissions come from domestic households. By switching a home’s energy source to electric, zero emissions are being released into the atmosphere, and the collective carbon footprint is reduced. Fischer offers a free heating survey so the correct form of electric heating can be installed in the household. Mr Bastian says:
“What we should do is actually go and advise customers on a daily basis of what we think is the right solution for their home that is net zero and that will have no emissions from their home.”
Conduct a test and make the switch
This autumn makes for a good opportunity to test any existing older appliances and explore the possibilities for upgrades to cleaner energy. Waiting until the winter months to service a boiler, which could require replacing, could potentially leave periods with no heating at all.
Electric methods of heating, such as electric boilers, don’t require any annual services, unlike their gas counterparts. With the UK’s Official Climate Advisors having recommended that all gas boilers should be banned by 2033, switching to electric is a good head start.