12 Dec 2007
The Renewable Energy Centre.co.uk recommends Ground Source Heating & Solar Water Heating
With climate change in the news nearly every day, more and more home owners are looking to renewable sources of energy to heat their homes. Typically in the past consumers have avoided renewable technologies because of the cost but today energy saving solutions are much cheaper and many have subsidies and grants to encourage people to invest. Two such renewable technologies are solar heating and ground source heating.
Solar heating is probably one of the most widely known renewable technologies and has been available in the UK for some time. It is one of the easiest solutions to install and serves to reduce the carbon output of a home and the cost of heating bills. Solar panels are fitted to your roof; these can either be flat plate systems or tube systems which collect heat from the sun’s radiation. The heat which is generated is transferred to the hot water cylinder and heats the water in the tank. On average a solar system can provide up to 40% to 60% of all hot water demands in the home.
There are homes which can not use solar water heating due to their position, only homes facing south/southwest and south/south east should install a system. Most existing boiler systems can be integrated with solar heating and there is now a large UK network of installers. Solar water heating can produce hot water up to around 60°C but this is dependant on the system installed and the amount of sunlight captured on a daily basis. The existing boiler produces any additional heat which may be required. In terms of energy use a solar water heating system can reduce carbon emissions by around half a tonne per year and will pay for itself within seven to fifteen years. The technology is relatively easy to install and should only take on or two days to complete. Pricing does vary but there are government grants available; a typical system can cost between £3,000 and £5000.
Ground Source Heating is a more expensive but produces a more consistent supply of heat to a household. Below the surface of the ground an ambient temperature of around 10-15 degrees exists; by harnessing this heat a whole building can be warmed without the need for any additional heating systems. A ground source heating system can save £400-£800 and between 2-4 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. Although the system does use electricity to drive the pump and compressor the use of one unit of electricity produces three to four times the amount of heat, which makes it a very efficient way of heating a building. In order to make the system entirely green electricity for the pump and compressor can be obtained from a green supplier or from the use of photovoltaic solar panels which produce electricity.
The one main requirement for this system is an outdoor space available to accommodate the ground loop. This is either a vertical, horizontal or spiral pipe which buried in the ground and filled with a mixture of water and antifreeze. As the water is pumped around the loop it absorbs the heat from the ground and is then fed through the heat pump into the heat distribution system in the home. The ideal distribution system is underfloor heating as it runs at a constant lower temperature but it can also be used in radiator systems or for hot water supplies. A typical system costs £7,000 to £12,000 and there are currently grants available of up to £2,500. The level of payback depends on the fuel which the ground source heating is replacing; electricity, coal or oil will provide a better payback than gas.
In terms of carbon emissions both of these systems will help homeowners to fight climate change. As more and more people adopt renewable energy measures in and around the home the more cost effective the systems will become. The government is keen to support and promote renewable technologies to both the consumer and the house building industry in order to help reach the carbon emissions targets by 2016.
Renewable energy is a sustainable way to heat and power homes across the UK and although the installation costs may currently exceed those of traditional heating systems, the on going benefits and costs savings are truly impressive. More information and a directory of UK suppliers for solar heating and ground source heating can be found at www.therenewableenergycentre.co.uk.
Notes for Editors:
The Renewable Energy Centre is committed to informing all online users about energy saving and renewable energy in order to:
- increase public awareness through accurate and informative resources
- create business opportunities throughout the UK through its’ local and national directories.
For more information contact:
Angela Gallacher (Head of Press and Marketing)
Telephone: +44 (0)1926 865 835
Address: 1 Alpha House, Farmer Ward Road, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2ED