Why Electric Heating is a Viable Alternative to Heat Pumps
Government plans to ban gas boilers means that builders, property owners and landlords are under increasing pressure to upgrade existing gas central heating systems to more environmentally friendly systems, using sustainable energy. Under the government’s current plans, the first phase of the gas boiler ban will apply to all newly built homes; from 2025, new homes will not be able to connect to a gas network, instead, they will have to install low carbon heating measures. The second phase is a ban on gas boilers being sold after 2035.
Heat pumps have been championed by the Government as the answer to this expensive problem, with grants available for the installation of heat pumps. While Government-backed grants are available for heat pump installation, many properties will need to be properly insulated to reap the benefits of heat pumps. At a typical cost of c. £1,000 to fully insulate a home, and 4.4 million social houses in the UK, this poses an enormous financial headache for the social housing sector. So, what are the alternatives to heat pumps? Is there a quicker, more cost-efficient way to replace outmoded gas boilers in social housing?
Why do we need a gas boiler ban?
Put simply, gas and oil boilers are being phased out because they are bad for the environment. Burning either gas or oil releases amongst other pollutants, carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, and releasing it into the atmosphere drives climate change.
A report from the National Housing Federation stated that England’s homes produce more carbon emissions every year than is produced by all the country’s cars. The research calculates for the first time that England’s 25 million homes – which produce 58.5 million tonnes of CO2 every year – are emitting the equivalent of the average annual use of 28 million cars. There are 27 million cars in use in England, emitting 56 million tonnes of CO2 annually.
This means the average family or household in England is currently producing more CO2 every year just by living in their home than they are by driving.
Slashing these greenhouse gas emissions, and any remaining emissions offset, would dramatically slow the impact of climate change, but according to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), only 3.6% of homes in the UK use low carbon heating systems.
What are the gas boiler alternatives?
As the government ramps up its net-zero plans for 2050, and the 2025 ban looms closer, you might have noticed there has been a lot of talk about heat pumps – the Government’s seemingly preferred low-carbon heating system to replace natural gas boilers.
But little is being said about electric heating as another low-carbon option. The preference for heat pumps appears to be driven by the way heat pumps operate, utilising external sources of energy such as the heat energy from the air, or the earth to reduce the electrical energy needed. Revolutionary new technology, produced by Enviroheat, means that the same effect – same heat with less electricity – can now be achieved by Enviroheat’s electric heating systems, making electric heating a viable environmentally friendly alternative to heat pumps.
Enviroheat’s HET technology utilises the same low-temperature heating principles as heat pumps with maximum surface temperatures of 55 degrees from the heaters allowing us to use less electrical energy than traditional electric heaters and electric boilers. The uplift in AD L triggering SAP 10.2, now recognises that electric heating is less carbon-intensive than Gas due to the incredible efforts of the national grid to decarbonise. Now installing electric heating will not harm SAP ratings.
Comparing heat pumps and electric boilers
Energy Saving Trust estimates that the typical cost of installing a domestic air source heat pump is £7,000 – £13,000. Ground source pumps are more expensive, typically £10,000 – £18,000.
Heat pumps are ideally paired with well-insulated, airtight homes, meaning many households and landlords will also have to factor in the cost of properly insulating their homes. To insulate a loft in a three-bedroom semi-detached home can cost around £300 to £350. To add cavity wall insulation, the same home could expect to pay between £450 and £500. External insulation and render can cost between £8,500 to £15,000 for a three-bedroom semi, and for internal insulation and plaster, a home can typically pay between £5,000 and £7,000. Assuming a typical cost of c.£1,000 to insulate a home, with 4.4million social houses in the UK, this could create a huge cost for the social housing sector.
By comparison, Of course, all this retrofitting eats into budgets, which is where electric heating systems come into their own. With less in the budget, heat pumps can become an unaffordable luxury, adding £7,000 – £18,000 onto an already sizeable insulation bill. Whereas, Enviroheat can typically install an electric heating system, including fitting, dynamic hot water cylinder, electric radiators, and control system, for c.£5,500 including fitting. More than this, electric heating systems can be installed to work efficiently without the need for additional insulation works, further cutting the upfront capital expenditure.
Heat pump systems require outdoor space for the heat pump, so are not suitable for homes without the additional outdoor space to spare, these can be terraced houses, apartments and mid- high rise blocks. Heat Pumps can also be noisy, so finding a convenient place to situate the pump that will minimise noise pollution can be tricky, especially in smaller properties.
Enviroheat systems don’t have large central unit feeding radiators running pipework throughout the property, saving space and eliminating leak possibilities/burst pipes. Electric heaters are also quiet, or even noiseless so can be installed anywhere in the home without causing noise disruption.
Typically, it would take 3 – 5 days to plumb in a domestic air-source heat pump in each property. Plus, an additional 1-3 days for an electrician to complete the wiring and set the system to work. The system then needs to be commissioned, so the total install time is approximately two weeks, during which there will be a period of downtime for hot water. At two weeks per home, it would take most social housing providers years to replace old gas central heating systems with domestic heat pumps.
Ground source heat pumps take even longer to plan and install. For retrofit projects, groundworks and plant installation can run concurrently, but for new-builds, the groundworks would generally need to start 6 to 9 months before plant room installation.
Electric heating systems are much quicker to install. Enviroheat heating and hot water systems can be installed in a family-sized property in a day, with minimal disruption to the availability of hot water and heating.
|Suitable for all properties
||Up to 7 days
|| 1 day
||£7,000 – £13,000
Conclusions – heat pumps vs. electric boilers
Heat pumps are expensive to install and maintain, electric heating is not. Given the high initial costs and the limited heating output of a heat pump, electric heating can prove to be cheaper and to a certain extent more efficient for householders. As a long-term solution, electric heating systems are cheaper and easier to install than heat pumps and can also be less expensive to maintain.
Heat pumps utilise pipework running throughout the home, and are located outside, leading to energy loss and leak potential through indoor and outdoor pipework. Electrical heating is contained completely inside the home, with no pipework losses/leak potential. Electric hot water cylinders only feed the hot water outlets minimising pipework runs.
While electric heating systems may have higher energy costs for some householders, dependent upon the cost of electricity at any given time, Enviroheat has addressed this issue with the development of revolutionary HET technology, which helps save energy and reduce fuel bills for residents. Tests show Enviroheat’s solutions to be more efficient than traditional heating systems and can reduce your heating CO2 emissions, on average, by 50.24%, according to an independent test report produced by the University of Salford.
Both heat pumps and Enviroheat’s electric heating systems employ lower temperature heating, which works better with the fabric first agenda, no longer overheating rooms and maintaining warm, comfortable homes.
However, heat pumps are less efficient when radiators are controlled zonally by smart thermostats and trv’s. Turning heat pump demand off and on frequently causes the compressor to short cycle and therefore uses more energy, lowering the COP factor and increasing bills.
Enviroheat systems are more efficient when zonally controlling Because each room has its own climate, and energy isn’t being wasted in unoccupied rooms, as it is when heat pumps are used.
When a heat pump fails, the whole property fails. With an Enviroheat system, each room is heated by a single unit, so any failure affects only one room, providing a level of protection for householders that heat pumps simply can’t match.
Enviroheat’s revolutionary electric heating systems have been specifically designed to fit the fabric first agenda, by reducing the amount of energy required to heat each property, providing a complete solution for environmentally friendly and affordable heating for social housing.
Enviroheat’s heating system is the only viable direct electric system to be powered directly by domestic solar power due to the low energy consumption, and the hot water system can also utilise renewable power, ensuring the property gets the most out of the free energy as possible.
For more information on affordable, environmentally-friendly electric heating technology, contact:
+44(0)161 439 8265
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