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How low carbon heating can shrink your footprint

Posted on 11/11/2020

As it becomes more important for every one of us to reduce our carbon footprint, finding new and more substantial ways to increase our home's efficiency is a significant step towards a greener future – and switching to low carbon heating like heat pumps and solar thermal panels is a great first step.

Until March 2021, the Government’s Green Homes Grant can help you pay for it. Let’s take a look.

What is low carbon heating?

Traditional heating systems rely on carbon-rich fossil fuels like oil or gas which pump more CO2 into the atmosphere.

Low carbon heating is more energy efficient, offering just as much warmth as oil or gas-based heating systems, while emitting significantly less CO2.

What is the Green Homes Grant?

As part of the Paris Climate Agreement, nearly every country around the world has committed to driving down carbon emissions. One of the ways the UK hopes to do this is to incentivise people to heat their homes more efficiently. So in September 2020, they launched the Green Homes Grant.

It gives homeowners in England money towards the cost of improving energy efficiency in their homes.

The grants on offer are significant. People can apply for up to two thirds of the cost of labour and materials, with a maximum of £5,000. If you are on certain benefits you can apply for 100% of those costs up to a maximum of £10,000.

Five ways to reduce your carbon footprint

  1. Make long-term savings with a heat pump

    Air source heat pumps take air from outside and use it to warm your home. The most common kind are air-to-water heat pumps. These take heat from the air outside then transfer it to water. The heat is then distributed around your home via your wet central heating system. They can be used for hot water as well as heating.

    Compared to standard boilers, they’re more efficient, produce fewer carbon emissions and can last a lot longer.

    A heat pump will cost between £9,000 and £11,000 which while significantly more than a new boiler, could save hundreds of pounds per year on running costs.

    With the Green Homes Grant you could have up to £5,000 of those upfront costs covered. If you are on benefits, the grant could cover the whole amount.

  2. Heat your home with solar thermal panels

    When people talk about solar power, they’re generally referring to solar PV panels that generate electricity. But did you know that solar thermal panels use the sun to generate heat? They’re super efficient, work in cold climates and can even store energy.

    They are mounted on your roof, use sunlight to heat water in a cylinder and there are two types:

    Flat-rate collectors look like normal solar PV panels for electricity. They’re composed of a dark absorbing surface, a transparent cover, a heat insulating backing and a fluid that transports heat from the absorber to a water tank.

    Evacuated tube collectors are made up of glass tubes which fluid flows through. They are much better for colder climates but can sometimes overheat when it’s very warm.

    On average, solar thermal panels will supply 60% of your hot water needs and vary in price between £3,000 and £6,000. Again, a Green Homes Grant can go a long way to reducing those costs. And remember, it covers labour as well as material.

  3. Go greener with an eco boiler

    Biomass boilers run on wood pellets and what carbon dioxide they emit is balanced by the carbon in the wood vs carbon in oil or gas that has been dug up from far beneath the ground. This means biomass boilers are essentially carbon neutral.

    Replacing a gas burning heating system with a wood burning one is likely to increase fuel costs. However, if you replace solid fuel or electric heating with the cheapest biomass fuel you could save between £170 and £390 per year.

    Prices for biomass boilers start at around £4,300.

  4. Pay for energy when it’s cheaper with a storage heater

    Storage heaters aren’t covered by the Green Homes Grant, but if you’re on a multi-rate energy tariff they’re well worth thinking about.

    Storage heaters work through the night while energy’s cheaper, and store heat in a bank of ceramic bricks. Then they release that heat over the course of the following day.

    While storage heaters still rely on traditional sources of electricity, the fact they get to work at night means they cost less and take pressure off the energy grid.

  5. Get a Green Homes Grant for wall cavity insulation

    The Green Homes Grant isn’t just available for low carbon heating. You can also apply if you want to install cavity wall insulation.

    First popular in the 1920s as they were cheap and very effective at blocking out rain, a cavity wall is essentially two walls with a gap - or cavity - between them.

    Despite their benefits for blocking rain, cavity walls are not particularly efficient at storing heat – but that can be solved by pumping a special insulation material into the cavity.

    Cavity wall insulation requires professional expertise and costs between £300 and £725 depending on the size of your home. The average house loses up to a third of its heat through the walls, cavity wall insulation improves the efficiency of the home's heating system and can significantly reduce heating bills.

We’re ready when you need us

The Green Homes Grant will work for different people in different ways, depending on the type of homes they have. And if you decide to go ahead and make some improvements, we’re on hand to help with installation.

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